Being charged with reckless driving in Virginia can seriously interfere with your life. In addition to the penalties associated with a conviction, you could be forced to pay court fees and spend large amounts of time fighting charges that may be overcharged and based only the perceptions of a law enforcement officer, even if you believe in your innocence. If found guilty, you could face penalties ranging from fines and driving restrictions to jail time. Depending on the sentence handed down to you by a judge, this could mean the termination of your employment and difficulty finding stable employment again in the future.
Frequently Asked Questions
Don't let one bad judgment call, or worse, something you're innocent of in the first place, negatively impact your life. With the help of an experienced Virginia reckless driving lawyer, you can fight these charges and defend your innocence. A qualified Virginia reckless driving defense attorney will examine both your case and prior reckless driving cases in order to build the strongest possible defense, giving you the best chance of receiving a favorable outcome in court.
What is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Reckless driving, generally, in Virginia is defined by state code § 46.2-852. According to this statute, it is illegal to drive a vehicle on a roadway in a way that is deemed reckless, in a manner that endangers "life, limb or property," or at a speed that is similarly deemed reckless. Typically, if it is a matter of speed, the charge will be that of Reckless Driving by Speed in violation of §46.2-862. This means a speed of approximately 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, or over 80 miles per hour regardless of the posted limit.
State code § 46.2-864 also prohibits reckless driving in areas other than roadways and highways, such as:
- A driveway or parking lot of a business, governmental property, recreational facility, school or church
- The premises of an industrial establishment designed to offer parking space to employees, patrons and customers
- A highway that is currently under construction, even if it is currently closed off to the public
Fines For Reckless Driving In Virginia
State code § 46.2-868 defines the penalties for reckless driving. According to this code, any individual found guilty of reckless driving will receive a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction on their criminal record. This is the same classification given to those found guilty of a DWI or DUI in Virginia. The penalties associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor reckless driving charge include a maximum of $2,500 in fines and up to 1 year in jail. It's also possible to having your driving privileges suspended for a period of up to 6 months, in addition to 6 demerit points on your driver's license.
An experienced Virginia reckless driving lawyer will look at the details of your case to create a strong defense. Some of the points your Virginia reckless driving defense attorney may assert in court to defend your innocence include:
- Did the law enforcement officer appropriately follow police procedural standards and rules before arresting and/or ticketing you? Was his radar or speed detection equipment properly calibrated?
- Did other witnesses observe your alleged reckless driving offense? What evidence do they have? Are they credible?
- What points will be asserted by the prosecutor, and how can they be refuted based on the facts of your case?
- Was the speedometer in your vehicle properly calibrated? Were your forced to drive recklessly due to an emergency? Did your reckless driving charge involve an emergency vehicle that was improperly marked or not displaying emergency lights?
- Do you have a clean driving history aside from this alleged offense?
Felony Reckless Driving Defense in Virginia
According to state code § 46.2-868, if you're found guilty and one of the following two statements are true, you could be convicted of a Class 6 felony as opposed to a Class 1 misdemeanor:
- You were driving without a driver's license because it was suspended or revoked for a previous offense
- Your reckless driving directly resulted in the death of another individual
Felony charges are obviously more serious than misdemeanor charges, which is why it's so crucial to hire the assistance of a Virginia reckless driving lawyer with a strong track record of success. The penalties associated with a Class 6 felony reckless driving conviction include a prison sentence ranging from 1 to 20 years, as well as 1 to 3 years of driving suspensions, fines, probation and more.
Other Causes for Reckless Driving Charges in Virginia
Aside from speeding 20 mph over the legal limit, you could be charged with reckless driving in Virginia for one of the following:
- Passing a school bus that is stopped to pick up or drop off children (code ß 46.2-859)
- Passing an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance (code ß 46.2-829)
- Racing with another vehicle (code ß 46.2-865)
- Driving with faulty brakes (code ß 46.2-853)
- Driving an overloaded vehicle that interferes with visibility and/or driving control (state code ß 46.2-855)
An experienced Virginia reckless driving attorney will be familiar with all of these circumstances and more, and capable of creating a defense custom-tailored to each.