Reckless Driving Charge: What it is and What to Do About It
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Speeding has caused almost one-third of motor vehicle fatalities in the last 2 decades. This driving behavior is reckless driving in some states. The penalties for this conduct vary from state to state.
The state of Virginia has some of the most strict reckless driving laws. If you drive 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, an officer may charge you with reckless driving in Virginia.
If you are here, you might’ve been surprised with a reckless driving charge in Virginia. Not sure if you can fight the charge? We’ll discuss the basics you must know about your charges and your options.
What Is Reckless Driving?
In Virginia, reckless driving isn’t defined only as driving with disregard to safety. Under Virginia law, this driving behavior refers to driving a vehicle recklessly or in a dangerous manner, or at a speed that endangers a property, limb or person.
Reckless driving behavior could include texting and using electronic devices while driving. Virginia law considers speeding reckless driving if you are driving 20 miles or more over the mandatory limit. Also, driving at more than 80 miles per hour regardless of the speed limit may be charged as reckless driving Virginia.
Other behavior considered reckless driving in this state is racing, failing to provide a proper signal, passing two vehicles abreast, among other behavior.
What Is the Process for a Reckless Driving Charge?
Under Virginia law, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. This charge doesn’t allow you to pay the fine and get along with your life. In contrast with other states, this offense requires a court appearance.
The officer will write the date for the trial or first appearance on your summons. Most of the time, the date is set within one month of the date of the offense.
If you’re an out-of-state driver, the court may allow an attorney to appear on your behalf without your appearance. If the charge is so serious, however, that the prosecutor or judge is not waiving jail time, then you will have to appear even if you hire an attorney.
What Is the Penalty for Reckless Driving In the State of Virginia?
If found guilty of reckless driving, the judge in fashioning a penalty for reckless driving will take into account your driving behavior, prior driving record, your attitude with the officer, whether you did community service and/or completed a driver’s improvement class, or in speed cases whether you have a helpful speedometer calibration which shows you thought you were driving slower than your actual speed. The reckless driving fine in Virginia can be up to 2500 dollars.
Another punishment for reckless driving is a 6 DMV point deduction if you have a Virginia license. Out of state drivers are typically assessed points by their state’s licensing agency as if they committed the offense in their home state. The judge also may impose jail time up to 1 year for this offense.
Also, the court could suspend your driver’s license or your privilege to drive in Virginia ,if you are an out of state driver, for up to 6 months. An attorney can provide insight into possible punishments based on their experience.
Should You Hire an Attorney for Your Reckless Driving Penalty?
Yes, you should consider hiring an attorney for your reckless driving charge. It’s recommended to at least consult a lawyer before your hearing.
An attorney may help lower your punishment if convicted of reckless driving or help get the charge reduced or dismissed. Remember that the state of Virginia treats these charges as a Class 1 misdemeanor. You are exposing yourself to fines, license suspension and possible jail time.
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Areas of Practice
Felonies and Misdemeanors
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