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how long does reckless driving stay on your record

Virginia drivers, ease off the gas. Cops never shy away from giving speeding tickets. Each year, they dole them to 41 million drivers for a total of $6 billion in traffic fines.

That said, there’s a big difference between going ten over the speed limit and reckless driving. Reckless driving not only endangers the lives of others, but it also comes with steep penalties. That offense can remain on your record for a long time in the state of Virginia.

How long does reckless driving stay on your record? Read on for more information. We’ll also discuss whether you should hire a traffic attorney in Fairfax, VA to help with your case.

What Is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving is a catchall term for driving that is, well, reckless. Any behavior that is careless, indifferent, or flippant about the property and safety of fellow drivers. Reckless drivers endanger the lives of others even if no crash, injury, or death occurs as a result.

Here are a few examples of things people do while driving that could be considered reckless:

  • Texting
  • Applying makeup or eating
  • Racing with other vehicles
  • Joy riding
  • Passing around stopped school busses
  • Cutting fast in and out of lanes
  • Speeding in Virginia well above the limit

The most common form of reckless driving in Virginia is going more than 20 mph above the speed limit. If you were going faster than 85 mph on a Virginia highway, for example, cops could slap you with a reckless driving charge. This would appear as a class 1 misdemeanor offense.

Careless Driving vs. Reckless Driving

Careless driving is the “little sister” of reckless driving. In the eyes of the law, this is a less severe traffic offense.

Careless driving includes things like running red lights or passing vehicles on a blind curve. These are risky, dangerous decisions, make no mistake, but they’re not what typically falls under “reckless” driving. Naturally, the consequences of careless driving are much less severe.

Whatever the case, reckless driving is not a small, forgettable gaffe. This is one of those offenses that your Virginia traffic attorney would warn you about. Should you make this blunder, how long will the consequences last?

How Long Does Reckless Driving Stay on Your Driving Record?

As with most things, it’s complicated. Your consequences will depend on the policeman and what your traffic defense lawyer can plead for in court.

The cop that issues the ticket might feel generous and give you a warning. In other situations, they could go all the way with a class 1 misdemeanor. It’s entirely up to the interpretation of the law enforcement official presiding over your particular situation.

Assuming you get a class 1 misdemeanor for reckless driving, this is an 11-year offense. Note, this must be a conviction, one you agree to. You would need to agree to pay for your reckless driving ticket no-contest, effectively pleading guilty.

Suppose you get a ticket for reckless driving in 2023. It would not disappear from your Virginia driving  record until 2034. A lot can happen in 11 years!

Needless to say, Virginia does not mess around with reckless driving offenses. In fact, reckless driving falls in line with other six-point infractions that likewise sit on your record for 11 years. Things like driving with a suspended license, or drunk hit-and-runs.

Is Reckless Driving a Felony?

A felony is any conviction greater than a misdemeanor. These are often the most severe of all offenses. Crimes like murder, sexual assault, and so on.

By default, reckless driving is rarely, if ever, a felony. It’s almost always a misdemeanor, given most instances of reckless driving are far less severe than typical felony crimes.

However, reckless driving can become a felony in a really, really bad situation. Think of a driver whose actions set off multiple, serious accidents in the process of a high-speed joyride.

What Do You Do About a Reckless Driving Conviction?

Suppose you did one of the things above that classifies reckless driving. If you get away with only a speeding ticket, consider yourself lucky. Drive safer next time.

If a policeman issues you a reckless driving ticket, it may seem like the end of the world. Fortunately, there are still options for you to avail of.

Don’t Plead Guilty

Thankfully, we live in a country where the judicial branch cannot assume guilt without a fair trial. Just because an officer claims that you were driving recklessly doesn’t mean the gavel has cracked. There is still a chance for you to plead not guilty before a judge.

Many people make the mistake of attending their court date and giving in. They believe they deserve the consequences, or assume the officer was righteous in their conviction. Take it from a Virginia criminal defense attorney, there’s a lot you can still do, even this late in the game.

So, do not admit guilt at any point. Do not say anything to the officer during a traffic stop, nor to the judge during your court appearance.

Hire a Traffic Ticket Defense Attorney

You’d be surprised how much affordable traffic lawyers in Virginia can do even with a clear, obvious conviction. Ideally, they can stamp it out and send you home from your trial with nothing on your record. If not, they can still reduce your sentence by a lot or plead for a better bargain.

Sometimes, the judge will disagree with the ticket-issuing police officer’s determination and throw out the case. They may find that evidence is scarce, or witnesses few. Or, they may downgrade you to careless driving, speeding, or some other, lesser moving violation.

You probably won’t get these preferable results without the help of a lawyer or attorney. These are experts in law and jurisprudence. So, hire a traffic defense attorney today.

Get Legal Help for Your Moving Violation

How long does reckless driving stay on your record? Pleading guilty to a class 1 misdemeanor, you can expect a reckless driving charge to remain there for 11 years. Hiring a Virginia traffic attorney could well lead to a more favorable result.

Looking for a traffic ticket defense attorney you can trust in Fairfax or any other county in Northern Virginia? Look no further than Nicewicz Attorney at Law. Tell us about your reckless driving charges and we’ll be glad to offer our services.

Areas of Practice

  • Criminal Law
  • Traffic Violations
  • Reckless Driving
  • Felonies and Misdemeanors

Bar Admissions

  • Virginia, 1985
  • District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, 1985
  • U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, 1987
  • U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1985
  • U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
  • U.S. Court of Federal Claims


  • University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia
    • J.D. - 1985
  • Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
    • B.A. magna cum laude - 1982
    • Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
    • Major: Economics & Philosophy
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