Your Legal Rights When Charged With Reckless Driving In Virginia
It is important to know your legal rights when charged with reckless driving in Virginia. You can legally defend yourself and challenge the charges against you. Pleading guilty and paying a fine can have serious consequences and penalties to your driving record and criminal record. Consider reaching out to an experienced criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101 to learn more about your legal rights and ensure they remain protected.
Reckless Driving in Virginia
Virginia Code 46.2-862 defines reckless driving as any driving 20 miles per hour or more above the maximum posted speed limit, or in excess of 85 miles per hour no matter the applicable speed limit.
Most reckless driving tickets are based on your speed but an officer can simply cite you for “reckless driving” if they think that you were driving in a way that endangers your life or the lives of others or property.
Reckless Driving Penalties
A reckless driving charge in Virginia is considered a class 1 misdemeanor. This can include up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500 as well as a suspension of your license for up to six months. The severity of your reckless driving charge can increase the penalty. Situations where you are charged with multiple types of reckless driving beyond speeding such as failing
to give the proper signal, driving with an obstructed view, or passing a school bus can result in a more severe sentence.
If your reckless driving charge is because of racing, you can face a license suspension of up to 2 years and a permanent seizure of your car. Most reckless driving is prosecuted as a misdemeanor but if a death occurs because of the racing you will be charged with a Class 6 felony. This results in a prison sentence of up to 20 years and a suspension of your license up to three years.
If you are charged with reckless driving while on a revoked or suspended driver’s license it is also considered a Class 6 felony the penalty for which includes fines and up to 20 years in prison.
The consequences of a reckless driving charge can impact several areas of a person’s life. Reckless driving convictions can also impact things like immigration status for aliens. It can impact professional licenses for drivers in many fields. It can also impact the cost of your insurance.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) classifies reckless driving as either a felony or misdemeanor based on your conviction. Potential penalties for a conviction of reckless driving in Virginia include 6 DMV points on your record and a suspension of your license for up to six months.
The DMV keeps the conviction on your record for years. A misdemeanor charge of speeding 20 miles an hour or more above the posted speed limit will result in demerits points assigned to your record and it will remain on your record for 5 years.
All other reckless driving charges, most of which are considered a felony, will remain on your record for 11 years. This includes:
reckless driving on a parking lot
reckless driving with an obstructed view
reckless driving with improper control or faulty brakes
failing to give a proper signal
driving too fast for the road conditions
driving two vehicles abreast
passing two vehicles abreast
passing on the crest for a hill
passing a school bus
overtaking an emergency vehicle or passing an emergency vehicle
passing at a railroad crossing
speeding in excess of 85 miles an hour
Legal Rights When Charged with Reckless Driving
If a police officer gives you a ticket for reckless driving, you are not required to show up to court and plead guilty to the charges. Consider speaking with a criminal defense attorney at the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall before you make the decision to show up in court. Reckless driving charges differ from regular traffic citations significantly. With regular traffic citations, the police officer will hand you the ticket and ask you to sign it. When you sign the ticket you plead guilty to the accusations and agree to pay the fine through the mail or go to court on the assigned date and pay the fine.
When you sign a reckless driving citation you are not pleading guilty but rather promising to appear in court. The ticket serves as a summons.
Reckless driving charges may not end with a fine. If you go to court and simply plead guilty it can result in a misdemeanor charge and jail time. If you do walk away with nothing but a fine, the misdemeanor charge will remain on your criminal record for years and have potential impacts on your driving record, your insurance rates, and limit potential career opportunities.
With a proper legal defense, you could have your reckless driving charges reduced.
For example: If a police officer issued a reckless driving citation for driving with an obstructed view, failing to give a proper signal, and driving too fast on the road conditions, a proper legal defense could try and dismiss two of those three charges.
With a proper legal defense, you could have your reckless driving charges dismissed outright.
For example: If a police officer issued a reckless driving citation for passing a school bus or passing an emergency vehicle, a proper legal defense could use things like car cameras or security cameras at the intersections in question to show that this did not happen and have the charges dismissed.
Other potential legal defenses could dismiss the charges if you were told by the officer that the ticket was just for speeding.
Contact an Attorney Regarding Your Legal Rights with Reckless Driving
Penalties for a reckless driving conviction can include a jail sentence, hefty fines, and a suspension of your license, in addition to administrative penalties from the DMV. Reckless driving in Virginia charges can be fought. If you want to know more about your legal rights when charged with reckless driving, consider visiting with an experienced criminal defense attorney. When you reach out to the Law Office of Faraji A. Rosenthall at 703-934-0101, we can provide a consultation to review your case and prepare you for court.