If the police pull you over and charge you with reckless driving in Midlothian, you may mistakenly believe that you have received a traffic ticket. It would be easy to be confused because the police officer does not put you in handcuffs or take you to the police station to be booked. Instead, you receive a summons that looks like a traffic ticket that requires you to appear in court.
You cannot afford to take being arrested for reckless driving lightly—even if this is the first time you have been charged with committing a crime. Reckless driving is a criminal offense in Virginia. If you are convicted, you face serious punishments and will have a permanent criminal record that can have far-reaching consequences on your life.
What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
While reckless driving often involves speeding, there are many other offenses that would be considered a traffic infraction in other states that constitute reckless driving in Virginia. There are approximately 16 offenses that fall under the crime of reckless driving. You could be charged with this offense for doing the following:
- Driving more than 20 miles per hour over the posted maximum speed limit
- Driving over 85 miles per hour no matter what the posted speed limit is
- Driving a motor vehicle recklessly or in a way or at a speed that endangers an individual or property
- Driving too fast for weather or road conditions
- Driving a vehicle which is not under control due to faulty brakes
- Passing an emergency vehicle that has its lights or siren on
- Passing a school bus that is transporting students or handicapped individuals that is stopped or is attempting to stop to pick up or let off passengers
- Passing two vehicles that are abreast unless the road has three or more lanes of traffic going in the same direction
- Driving two abreast in a single lane
- Passing on the crest of a grade or curve
- Passing at a railroad crossing
- Driving recklessly in a parking lot
- Failing to yield the right of way
- Failing to use proper turn signals
- Overloading the vehicle—including with passengers—in a way that obstructs the driver’s visibility and control of the vehicle
Reckless Driving Is Punished Harshly in Virginia
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense—the most serious type of misdemeanor in our state. If you are convicted, your sentence will depend on a number of factors such as your prior criminal and driving record, how fast you were driving, and whether you caused an accident. You could face these punishments:
- Jail sentence up to 12 months
- Fine up to $2,500
- Driver’s license suspension for up to six months
- Six demerit points on your driving record
Do You Go to Court If You’re Charged With Reckless Driving?
You cannot just mail the court a payment for a traffic fine if you were charged with reckless driving. Because it is a misdemeanor offense, you will need to attend a court hearing to enter a plea and to be sentenced if you are found guilty.
In addition, it is not in your best interests to just plead guilty and accept your punishment. You will be convicted of a misdemeanor crime and have a permanent criminal record. This can have long-term consequences on your ability to obtain a job, security clearance, housing, and much more.
How Long a Reckless Driving Conviction Stays on Your Driving Record
The six demerit points that will be placed on your driving record will remain there for 11 years. If you accumulate too many demerit points over a relatively short period of time, your driver’s license could be suspended. In addition, you could have to pay significantly higher auto insurance costs when you have demerit points on your record due to a reckless driving conviction.
How a Criminal Defense Attorney Can Help
One of your first steps after being charged with reckless driving should be to retain an experienced criminal defense lawyer in Midlothian. Even if you believe you are guilty, you may have strong defenses that can result in the charges against you being dismissed or reduced to a less serious traffic infraction. To learn about your possible defenses and how I will aggressively fight so you achieve the best possible outcome, call my office to schedule your free consultation today.