S & R Law Firm
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, reckless driving is considered a serious charge. Although reckless driving charges can stem from a multitude of traffic offenses, broadly speaking reckless driving is defined as driving a vehicle in a manner or at a speed that endangers the lives or property of others. (See 46.2-862.) Being charged with reckless driving can be a scary and stressful experience, and consulting with a Virginia reckless driving attorney can help you better understand your rights and whether you need a lawyer. The experienced team at S&R Law Firm represents individuals charged with reckless driving in Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Fauquier County, and Arlington County. Don’t hesitate to contact us for a free, personalized consultation. One of our criminal defense attorneys would be happy to discuss your case with you in person or over the phone.Reckless Driving by Speed
One of the most common reasons our clients are charged with reckless driving is speed, and the vast majority of reckless driving tickets in Virginia are speed-related. According to Virginia Code 46.2-862, traveling at speeds above 80 MPH or exceeding the speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more constitutes reckless driving.
Because the speed limit on many of our Virginia state highways is 70 MPH, it is not uncommon for drivers to be charged with reckless driving for traveling at just 11 miles over the speed limit. While that may sound like a low number, because reckless driving in Virginia is taken so seriously, even traveling 11 miles over the speed limit can result in thousands of dollars in fines, license suspension, and other penalties. If you find yourself in this position, S&R Law Firm’s team of reckless driving lawyers in Virginia would be happy to consult with you about whether you have a case and the potential outcomes you may expect.General Reckless Driving Charges
One big misconception drivers have about reckless driving is that they will only be charged with this offense if they are driving at high speeds. While it’s true that speeding is among the most common offenses that lead to a Virginia reckless driving fine, under Virginia law reckless driving is not necessarily always linked to speed.
Virginia Code 46.2-852 states: “Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on a highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.”
As you can likely imagine, under this code a reckless driving charge could result from a wide range of scenarios, some of which, such as your brakes suddenly going out, could be beyond your control. However, it is important to note that even if you do not injure someone or their property as a result of your driving, if a police officer determines that your manner of driving has the potential to injure a person or their property, you could still be charged. If you are, it is worth contacting an attorney specializing in reckless driving in Virginia, as a good attorney can often improve the outcome for your case.Other Specific Reckless Driving Offenses
While speeding is the most likely way to get a reckless driving ticket in Virginia, there are several other traffic offenses that can lead to the charge. For example, under Virginia Code 46.2-853, if you fail to maintain proper control of your vehicle or drive with faulty brakes, you can be charged with reckless driving. Likewise, any of the following traffic offenses can result in a reckless driving charge:
- Passing When View Is Obstructed (See 46.2-854)
- Car Overloaded (See 46.2-855)
- Two Vehicles Driving in One Lane (See 46.2-856)
- Passing a Stopped School Bus (See 46.2-859)
- Failing to Give Proper Signals (See 46.2-860)
- Driving Too Fast for Traffic Conditions (See 46.2-861)
- Racing (See 46.2-865)
- Not Yielding to Stationary Emergency Vehicles (See 46.2-921)
Many of our clients initially contact us to ask: What happens if you get a reckless driving ticket in Virginia? Often, they think the ramifications will not be serious. However, under Virginia Code 46.2-862, reckless driving is considered a class 1 misdemeanor—a serious criminal offense that can carry severe penalties. The punishment for reckless driving in Virginia may include:
- A maximum of 1 year in jail or up to a $2500 fine
- Six DMV points against your Virginia license
- A maximum 6-month license suspension
- A criminal misdemeanor conviction on your record for 11 years
In addition to these penalties and the serious impact they can have on your day-to-day life, people convicted under Virginia reckless driving law often experience extremely high insurance premiums that can make affording insurance difficult. If you are charged with reckless driving, however, working with a qualified lawyer you trust can significantly improve the outcome of your case.What to Do If You are Charged with Reckless Driving
When it comes to how to beat a reckless driving ticket in Virginia, it is typically in your best interest to work with a nearby reckless driving attorney serving Virginia. This will ensure that your lawyer is well-versed in state laws and has a positive relationship with local judges. Depending on the circumstances surrounding your case, a good lawyer can argue to have your case dismissed or your charges, fines, or punishment reduced.
In many cases, mitigating factors exist that can positively impact your defense. If you have a strong driving record, were speeding due to an emergency, or if your speedometer was improperly calibrated, a lawyer can leverage this evidence to support your case. Depending on the circumstances, an attorney may be able to recommend attending driving school as an alternative to being penalized under harsh Virginia reckless driving laws.
In other cases, under Virginia Code 46.2-869, a judge may choose to reduce your reckless driving charge to a charge of improper driving, which carries fewer points against your license and a reduced fine. Whether these scenarios are relevant to your case or not, working with a proven reckless driving lawyer is the best way to get the most positive outcome possible for your case.
At S&R Law Firm, our experienced team is here to help you through this difficult and overwhelming experience. Contact us for a free in-person or phone consultation at 703.273.6431.