Reckless driving is a criminal offense in Virginia. If charged, you can expect to face fines, loss of driving privileges, and even jail time. So, what is the penalty for reckless driving in Virginia?
The penalties for the class 1 misdemeanor include a fine of up to $2,500, losing a driving permit for up to 6 months, as well as spending up to 12 months in jail. If your driver’s license is issued by a state other than Virginia, your loss of driving privileges will also be picked up by many other states.
Let’s take a closer look at reckless driving, the penalties for this offense in Virginia, and other consequences you may face if you commit this offense.
What is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Many people are not aware that reckless driving is a criminal offense in VA. If arrested, you will face a criminal charge instead of a simple traffic offense, as in other states. So, let’s define what the term reckless driving means in VA.
In Virginia, your charge will be reckless driving if you go over the speed limit by 20 mph or more. For example, if you drive 75 mph on a road with a speed limit of 55 mph, you can be charged with driving recklessly.
You can also face a reckless driving charge if caught driving over 85 mph. In this case, it doesn’t matter what the speed limit on a particular road is. No matter if the limit is 55 mph or 70 mph, as long as you are traveling over 85 mph anywhere in Virginia, you will face charges for reckless driving.
Additionally, driving in a way that endangers you, other people or someone’s property, regardless of speed, is considered reckless. Even if you are driving below the speed limit, you can be charged with this offense if you are putting you, other people or property at risk.
Some of the examples of this behavior include driving with faulty or improperly adjusted brakes, driving next to another vehicle on a one-lane road, racing with another vehicle, or illegally passing a vehicle when approaching a curve in the roadway, at a highway intersection, or a railroad crossing, to name a few.
Reckless Driving Vs. Speeding in Virginia
Reckless driving and speeding may seem similar, but there are significant differences between these two charges, and they carry very different consequences. Of course, as a Class 1 Misdemeanor, reckless driving is a more serious charge.
|Reckless Driving||Speeding Ticket|
|Class 1 Misdemeanor||Traffic Infraction|
|Fine – Maximum $2,500||Fine – Maximum $250|
|Jail Time – up to 12 months||Jail Time – None|
|6 points on license (max)||Up to 4 points on license|
|Will remain on your Criminal record permanently||Infraction will fall off your driving record after a few years|
|Must Appear in Court (or have a Lawyer appear for you)||Not Required to Appear in Court. Fine and plea may be mailed.|
Speeding is a traffic infraction, and it doesn’t carry any possible jail time. Also, under most circumstances, speeding carries a maximum fine of $250. On the other hand, reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor, and it carries a possible jail time of up to 12 months and up to $2,500 in fines.
If the reckless driving charge results in a conviction, it will stay on your record permanently, whereas a speeding ticket that results in a conviction goes away from your driving record after a few years.
Another difference is that reckless driving carries a maximum of 6 demerit points, whereas a speeding ticket carries as little as 3 demerit points. Finally, when facing a reckless driving charge, you are required to appear in court, whereas in the case of speeding, you are not required to appear and can simply prepay your ticket.
Potential Jail Time
You probably won’t have to spend time in jail if this is your first offense. On the other hand, if you’ve had repeat reckless driving convictions, a bad driving history, or you were driving at a speed of more than 100 mph, the likelihood of jail time increases significantly.
When reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor, you can face a jail sentence of up to 12 months, and when it is a class 6 felony, you can face a sentence of having to spend up to 5 years in jail.
If you are convicted of reckless driving, it doesn’t mean that you will surely face license suspension, but the faster your speed or more reckless your behavior the greater the chances of active jail.
A first-time reckless driving offense in Virginia may include a driver’s license suspension for a maximum of six months. Of course, traveling at speeds over 95-100 mph is more likely to result in a suspended license compared to driving at lower speeds.
In order to get your license back, it is necessary to comply with the conditions set by the judge, which may even include completing a driver improvement clinic. Also, you need to pay the DMV a reinstatement fee, as well as bring proof that you have car insurance.
Even if your license is suspended, the judge may but does not have to give you a restricted license for specific purposes, such as going to work, attending school, and going to the doctor.
In most cases, you will be required to pay fines for reckless driving. The actual fine you will receive can vary greatly. The exact amount depends on a variety of factors, including your driving record, speed, the local court policy, and more.
The maximum fine you may face for a class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia law is $2,500.
Fortunately, the maximum fine isn’t used very often. A judge determines the exact fine amount depending on the circumstances of your case and other factors. In most cases, drivers facing a reckless driving offense end up having to pay between $500 and $1,000.
Driving Record Points
Another potential penalty of reckless driving is receiving demerit points. In Virginia, the DMV can put up to 6 points on your driver’s license if you are convicted of this criminal offense.
Other Consequences of Reckless Driving
Besides the penalties mentioned above, there are other consequences you may be facing if you are convicted of reckless driving. One of the major concerns is insurance premiums. Although every insurance company has its own criteria for setting the rates, it is very likely that your insurance rates will probably go up if you have a record of reckless driving. Worst-case scenario, your insurance company could cancel your insurance policy.
If you apply for a security clearance, you will need to disclose your driving conviction, as it will come up in your background check anyway. Also, if you have to drive for a living, you may lose your job as a result of a conviction. Finally, depending on the circumstances of your charge, a conviction or a guilty plea will result in having a misdemeanor criminal record.
Contact an experienced traffic ticket attorney when facing the life altering consequences of reckless driving in Virginia. Keefer Law Firm has over 35 years’ experience dealing with Virginia courts and prosecutors. Attorney Bob Keefer knows the VA legal system. His knowledge could lead you to reduced charges, fines, and consequences. Call Bob today (540) 433-6906. Your future may depend on it!