Reckless driving is a serious charge in Virginia and is categorized as a class 1 misdemeanor. This means, reckless driving is in the same criminal class as a DUI, assault, marijuana possession, and petty larceny. Most reckless driving tickets in Virginia are issued on the basis of speed alone. If you exceed the speed limit by more than 20 miles per hour, or if you’re traveling in excess of 80 miles per hour, you can be charged with reckless driving by speed. Regardless of speed, a police officer can cite you for reckless driving if he feels that you are driving in a manner that endangers lives or property.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Virginia’s reckless driving laws are some of the toughest in the United States. Even first-time offenders are subject to the full scope of penalties, including fines, license suspension, and jail time. Your specific conviction for reckless driving will vary based on the details of your case, your driving record, and the judge hearing your case. Possible penalties include:
- License suspension for up to six months. Should you accrue another reckless driving conviction and six more demerit points, you may be required to complete a driving course. Six more demerit points within a year (for a total of 18) could lead to a suspension of driving privileges. Driving on a suspended license is a serious crime, carrying penalties of up to 12 months in jail, additional license suspension, and hefty fines.
- Six DMV points. When Virginia DMV is notified that you’ve received a moving violation conviction, they assess demerit points against you. Reckless driving carries the maximum number of demerit points for any offense in Virginia. These points will remain on your state DMV record for 11 years.
- A fine of up to $2,500. If you’re convicted of reckless driving, you might have to pay as much as $2,500 in fines, plus $62 in court fees, $225 in restricted license fees, and $175 in fees to have your license reinstated.
- Up to one year in jail. If you were driving in excess of 90 miles per hour, it’s likely that the Commonwealth’s Attorney will seek a jail sentence.
In addition to the legal penalties of a reckless driving conviction, there are other possible consequences to consider:
- Increased insurance premiums. A single reckless driving conviction can dramatically increase your insurance rates for three to five years. It’s difficult to predict exactly what will happen to your insurance premium without talking to your insurance provider. However, the lower the current premium and the better your driving record, the more damaging a reckless driving conviction may be.
- Job loss. If your job requires you to drive for a living, your employment could be in jeopardy. Some companies have rules requiring the termination of employees based on their driving records alone. Truck drivers, home nursing assistants, delivery workers, and construction laborers may have a particularly difficult time getting or keeping a job due to a reckless driving conviction.
- Permanent criminal record. In Virginia, criminal convictions are never erased or expunged from a person’s record. You’ll have a permanent criminal record appearing in background checks for employment, housing, financial loans, and education. If you’re convicted of reckless driving, you must answer “yes” when asked if you’ve ever been convicted of a misdemeanor on an employment application. A reckless driving conviction may prevent a law student from practicing law, disqualify someone for military service, jeopardize security clearance, and make finding a job more difficult.
You Need an Attorney
If you’re facing reckless driving charges, your first step should be to pursue representation by an attorney who understands how to successfully defend you. Contact the attorneys of Kearney, Freeman, Fogarty & Joshi, PLLC, by using the form on this page.