Far greater in severity than a normal traffic ticket, a charge of reckless driving in Virginia can seriously impact your life. Perhaps your charge was due to a momentary lapse in concentration. Perhaps you feel as though you were overcharged with what amounted to a routine traffic violation, or entirely innocent of any wrongdoing. Whatever the case may be, if you are found guilty of reckless driving in the Commonwealth, you face penalties ranging from fines and driving restrictions to possible jail time. And the consequences don't end with those handed down by a judge – a conviction will almost certainly mean a drastic increase in your car insurance premiums, plus a criminal record that could hamper your ability to find employment, education, or even housing in the future. Whatever your case may be, you should strongly consider contacting a Virginia Reckless Driving Attorney.
Virginia Reckless Driving – Frequently Asked Questions
Don't let one bad judgment call, or worse, something you're innocent of in the first place, have serious long-term consequences. With the help of an experienced Virginia reckless driving lawyer, you can fight your charge and strive for a satisfactory case resolution. Virginia traffic attorney Nicole Naum will examine both your case and prior reckless driving cases and build a strong defense goaled at helping you receive 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
What are the Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia?
State code § 46.2-868 defines the penalties for this criminal traffic offense. According to this code, any individual found guilty of reckless driving will receive a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction on his or her record. This is the same classification of conviction given to those found guilty of DUI, marijuana possession, and simple assault. The penalties associated with a Class 1 misdemeanor charge include a maximum of $2,500 in fines and up to one year in jail. It's also possible to having your driving privileges suspended for a period of up to six months, in addition to six 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 questions your attorney may raise 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 you forced to drive recklessly due to an emergency? Did your 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?
Can Virginia Reckless Driving Be a Felony Charge?
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 secure the services of a Virginia reckless driving lawyer with a strong track record of success. The penalties associated with a Class 6 felony conviction may include a prison sentence ranging from one to 20 years, as well as one to three 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 § 46.2-859)
- Passing an emergency vehicle such as an ambulance (code § 46.2-829)
- Racing with another vehicle (code § 46.2-865)
- Driving with faulty brakes (code § 46.2-853)
- Driving an overloaded vehicle that interferes with visibility and/or driving control (state code § 46.2-855)
Experienced Virginia defense attorney Nicole Naum is familiar with all of these circumstances and more, and is capable of creating a defense custom-tailored to each. If you have questions about how best to deal with your reckless driving citation, contact her office today.