If you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia, you may not realize the serious consequences of a conviction, or that you may have options to lessen them. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in Virginia with penalties that include possible jail time and hefty fines. In addition, a guilty plea or plea of no contest would result in a permanent criminal record. Here, we share your options if you receive a reckless driving ticket so that you can minimize the harsh consequences you face.
What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Reckless driving is treated seriously in Virginia, and you may be charged with this for more than just speeding. There are at least 15 separate reckless driving offenses, and they include the following:
- Driving over the speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more or in excess of 80 miles per hour under Virginia Code § 46.2-862
- Driving too fast for traffic or highways conditions under Virginia Code § 46.2-861
- Driving recklessly or in a manner to endanger the life, limb, or property of another person under Virginia Code § 46.2-852
- Failing to yield the right of way when entering a highway from a side street under Virginia Code § 46.2-863
- Driving recklessly in a parking lot under Virginia Code § 46.2-864
- Passing a stopped school bus under Virginia Code § 46.2-859
- Failing to give proper turn signals of the intent to turn, slow down, or stop under Virginia Code § 46.2-860
- Passing two vehicles that are abreast unless on a one-way street or a highway having separate roadways with three or more lanes of travel under Virginia Code § 46.2-856
- Passing at a railroad crossing under Virginia Code § 46.2-858
- Racing under Virginia Code § 46.2-865
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is a Class I misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. The court may also suspend your driver's license for up to six months. A conviction for reckless driving also results in a permanent criminal record and may hinder your ability to obtain certain employment or successfully undergo a thorough background check. In addition, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will impose six demerit points for a reckless driving conviction, why may in turn lead to higher insurance premiums.
Options for Handling Your Reckless Driving Ticket
You have a number of options for handling your reckless driving ticket, but not all are in your best interests. If your goal is to minimize the penalties, some of your choices will not lead to this result. However, it is still useful to know all your options before making the important decision of how to proceed in your case. These include the following:
- Ignore the ticket. It is never a good idea to ignore a reckless driving ticket. If you do nothing after being ticketed for reckless driving, you may be found guilty by the judge at your hearing in your absence. A warrant may also be issued for your arrest.
- Plead guilty or no contest. Another option would be to appear in court unrepresented and plead guilty or no contest. However, if you do this, you will be found guilty and end up with a permanent conviction. You will have a permanent criminal record that may affect your ability to obtain a job, a professional license, and more.
- Represent yourself. While you may be tempted to represent yourself at your court hearing, the stakes of a conviction are high enough that this option is almost certainly not in your best interests. You may not know the technical requirements for the police officer to prove the charge, and you may be unaware of certain defenses that may apply. Moreover, you may lose out on the opportunity to have an experienced attorney negotiate on your behalf with the prosecution in order to potentially obtain a more favorable outcome.
- Retain an attorney. Your best option is to retain an experienced traffic law attorney who has a record of success in handling reckless driving cases. The attorney can investigate the circumstances surrounding your ticket, raise any defenses you may have, and fight to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a lesser offense.
Pick the Right Option. Contact Our Office Today
Were you charged with reckless driving? Make the right choice and contact our experienced traffic law attorneys today to schedule your free, no-obligation consultation. We will explain your legal options and how we may be able to fight to get the ticket dismissed or reduced to a lesser traffic violation.