If you received a ticket for reckless driving, you should not treat it like a ticket for failing to yield, running a red light, or other similar traffic infractions. Many people mistakenly do just this, admit guilt, and accept the penalty. However, if you are convicted of this offense or plead guilty, you will have a conviction of a Class 1 misdemeanor on your criminal record. That’s right—you will have a criminal record. In addition, like other criminal convictions, a reckless driving conviction can affect your life long after you pay your fine and complete the other terms of your sentence. However, with the help of an experienced reckless driving lawyer, you can fight the ticket and possibly get the charges dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
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What Is Reckless Driving?
Reckless driving almost always involves speeding. You could be charged with reckless driving for dong any of the following on a roadway or highway:
- Driving over 20 miles per hour over the applicable maximum speed level
- Driving over 80 miles per hour no matter what the applicable maximum speed level is
- Driving a vehicle recklessly or in a manner or speed that endangers a person or property
- Driving too fast for weather or road conditions
- Driving a motor vehicle without adequately adjusted brakes
- Passing an emergency vehicle that has its lights or siren on
- Passing a properly outfitted school bus that is transporting students or handicapped adults and is stopped or attempting to stop to let passengers on or off the bus
- Passing two vehicles that are next to each other unless there are three or more lanes of traffic going in the same direction
- Passing a vehicle at the crest of a grade or on a curve unless it is a highway with at least two lanes
- Passing at a railroad crossing unless there are two more lanes of traffic in each direction
- Overloading a vehicle in a way that reduces visibility or control of the vehicle – including having too many passengers in the vehicle
- Failing to signal properly
- Failing to yield to vehicles that have the right of way
Virginia law also makes it illegal to engage in reckless driving in areas other than highways and roads. These include:
- Highways currently under construction
- Industrial establishments that have parking spaces for employees, patrons, and customers
- Driveway or parking lot of a government, business, recreational facility, school, or church
What Are the Penalties for a Reckless Driving Conviction?
The penalties you face if convicted of reckless driving will depend on a number of factors, including your prior offenses, your driving history, and the practices of the judge assigned to your case. You could face these possible sentences:
- Class 1 misdemeanor conviction
- Up to one year in jail, although jail time is not common unless excessive speeds, such as 95 or 100 miles per hour, are involved
- Driver’s license suspension for up to six months if you are a Virginia resident
- Loss of driving privileges in Virginia for up to six months
- Fines of up to $2,500
- Six points on your driver’s license
What Are Long-Term Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction?
There are a number of long-term consequences associated with a reckless driving conviction. These include the following:
- Insurance rates. Your insurance premium rates could increase significantly for years after your conviction.
- Security clearance. Depending on where you work, a misdemeanor conviction could affect your security clearance, especially if this is not your first offense.
- Job. If you must drive for your job or you are on your company insurance policy due to occasionally driving for your employer, your conviction could impact your ability to do your job or violate an employer policy that has termination as a consequence. In addition, it could hurt your ability to obtain a job if you have to disclose the conviction on a job application.
- A permanent criminal record. A misdemeanor conviction goes on your permanent record. This means that you could have to disclose and explain your reckless driving conviction on job applications, loan applications, and more.
- Demerit points. The six points assessed on your Virginia driver’s license may remain there for up to 11 years, depending on how many other points you accumulate.
Should I Get A Lawyer For a Reckless Driving Charge?
Only after a consultation where we can thoroughly discuss your particular case and the facts surrounding your charges can we properly answer this question. However, due to the serious nature of a Virginia Reckless Driving charge, it is important for you to at least reach out to an attorney and discuss the options available to you. If you decide not to challenge the charge in court, you will face the consequences, both criminally and socially, of having a misdemeanor conviction on your record. The circumstances of your case may make you eligible for certain punishment reductions or diversion programs. You can only find out by speaking to an experienced traffic attorney.