Anyone operating a motor vehicle is at risk of being charged with reckless driving if they fail to carefully observe the driving laws of the state. The penalty for reckless driving in Virginia can arise from a variety of behaviors and can lead to serious criminal consequences dramatically impacting a person’s record going forward.
If you have been charged with reckless driving and are wondering what penalties or consequences you may be facing, be sure to understand the charge and how penalties are determined.
What Is Reckless Driving In Virginia?
In Virginia, there are several different types of reckless driving. General reckless driving is considered to be any operation of a motor vehicle that endangers the life, limb or property of others. This can occur regardless of whether the driver was abiding by the speed limit; actions such as passing on the shoulder or passing in a no passing zone can constitute recklessness.
The speed limit also factors into a reckless driving charge. Anyone driving 20 or more miles per hour over the speed limit can be charged with reckless driving, as can someone who is speeding at 85 miles per hour or more regardless of how much above the speed limit they are driving.
Other behaviors may also qualify as reckless such as racing, driving with an overloaded vehicle, or passing a stopped school bus. However, because reckless driving is somewhat subjective in its definition of endangerment, an officer has the right to stop you if they believe that you are being reckless in any way.
How Reckless Driving Compares To Other Traffic Rules
Reckless driving is a criminal charge, therefore it carries more severe penalties than traffic infractions. Traffic infractions typically result in fines that can be paid in lieu of attending a court date, and the infractions may result in points on the individual’s driving record.
However, reckless driving requires a court date and hearing; if the charged party fails to appear, the officer will be able to testify to the judge and the trial will take place regardless. Failure to appear for a Class 1 Misdemeanor may also lead to other consequences; such as an arrest warrant being issued.
The Treatment Of A Case
Many courts treat reckless driving harshly and are difficult to persuade for a lighter sentence. Judges in Virginia typically view reckless driving as a choice that has no rationalization; there is normally no reason for a person to operate a motor vehicle in a manner that endangers others or their property.
Thus, working with an experienced attorney is the most effective means of reducing the penalties for reckless driving; a skilled legal professional has the best chance of presenting mitigating factors in cases of recklessness.
Maximum Penalties For Reckless Driving
If an individual is charged with reckless driving, they can expect multiple penalties. If no mitigating factors are present to reduce the consequences or have the charge dropped, the maximum penalty is a Class 1 Misdemeanor.
This charge carries a fine of $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail. Depending upon the details of the case, a convicted individual may not receive the full 12 month sentence.
In addition, a Class 1 Misdemeanor comes with further consequences. Court costs will likely be incurred during the process, and the DMV may assign demerit points to the driver’s record that could impact how they use a driver’s license and what opportunities are available to them going forward. Additionally, a misdemeanor will appear on their criminal record, and their car insurance may increase substantially as a result of the reckless driving charge. This will result in paying higher premiums in order to remain insured.
Reckless driving is a charge that has long-lasting effects on an individual even after the court date has concluded. While fines and jail time are the most predominant consequences, the changes to insurance and even employment opportunities as a result of a conviction on the criminal record can leave individuals battling with a reckless driving charge for years to come. Working with a skilled traffic attorney in Virginia may lead to the charges being dropped entirely if not reduced.
Work With A Professional Fairfax Traffic Defense Attorney
If you have been charged with reckless driving, reach out for legal assistance as soon as possible as the penalty for reckless driving in Virginia can vary. A skilled Fairfax traffic defense attorney has the experience and knowledge to provide evidence and arguments that may have your case dropped or your penalties significantly reduced.
The Law Offices of Kermit A. Monge would be happy to review your situation and offer guidance on what to do next. Reach out by calling 703.273.5500 or schedule a consultation online to meet with an experienced traffic defense attorney.