In Virginia, reckless driving is a crime rather than a minor traffic infraction. Depending on the specific facts of the case, it may be charged as a Class One misdemeanor or a felony. Class One misdemeanors come with a maximum fine of $2,500 and the possibility of up to twelve months in jail, and felony charges are punishable by over one year in prison, so it is most certainly not a charge to be taken lightly. Obviously, if you are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia, you face some dire consequences.
The Virginia courts take reckless driving much more seriously than you might think. In Virginia, it is not uncommon for jail time to be imposed solely for speeding.
Since reckless driving is a criminal offense, you need to know precisely what constitutes reckless driving in Virginia and that it’s considered more severe than just a traffic infraction.
Many times, traffic infractions can simply be paid ahead of time. You may or may not have to appear in court, you may only have to pay a fine, and the offense may have only minor impacts on your driving record, such as three, four, or six points on your license. However, in the case of reckless driving in Virginia, unlike a traffic infraction, you will get a court date and may receive a jail sentence.
The impact of the consequences of being found guilty continue well after your case ends in court. For instance, your insurance rates may go up and you may not be able to drive if your license is suspended. That is why it is vitally essential for you to seek help ahead of time and consult with an experienced Roanoke reckless driving lawyer to get the advice you need and have them defend you by your side in court.
When you appear for your trial, the officer testifies as to what occurred, you and other persons involved in the incident may testify, and then the judge decides whether you’re guilty based on this evidence and if so, imposes a sentence. The sentence may include severe fines or a prison sentence. Simply put, it can turn out to be a much harsher sentence than you had imagined!
What is the Maximum Penalty for a Reckless Driving Conviction In Virginia?
Usually, reckless driving is a Class One misdemeanor, punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine. Your Roanoke reckless driving lawyer, working with the specifics of your case, will thoroughly explain the statute, discuss any possible defenses, and advise you of the maximum sentences and what possible sentences you may argue for the judge to impose if you could be found guilty.
There are times when you believe you have a valid explanation for your actions, but in many cases, what you believe to be a rational reason for your actions is not a legal defense. You must be represented professionally, and your case presented in-depth by an experienced trial attorney. If your attorney is able to show the court a reasonable doubt exists as to your guilt, you will be found not guilty. It is vital to your freedom not to underestimate a Virginia reckless driving charge and fail to take it seriously.
Can I Face Even Harsher Penalties for a Virginia Reckless Driving Conviction?
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may be charged with felony reckless driving which carries harsher penalties than the misdemeanor charge.
The possible punishments for a misdemeanor or felony conviction are:
- Misdemeanor reckless driving – A Class 1 misdemeanor is punishable by up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, or any combination of the two.
- Felony reckless driving – A Class 6 felony is punishable by not less than one year nor more than five years in prison, or alternatively, the judge may choose confinement in jail for not more than 12 months and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.
- Jail or Prison Sentence – In serious cases, or if you have prior convictions, you are in danger of receiving the maximum punishment or fine.
- Other penalties for reckless driving – Your license may be suspended by the court, or you may be required to enroll in an alcohol safety program if the court believes alcohol was involved.
Additionally, your insurance will almost always be affected and will increase significantly in price, or you may not be able to be obtained at all.
As mentioned, this is a criminal conviction and results in you having a criminal record. It’s impossible to expunge convictions in Virginia. However, there is a different process in which you may petition 10 years after the conviction to have the record sealed rather than expunged. Unless you are able to have your record sealed, your criminal record could negatively affect any background checks, employment, housing, and more.
You must now see the serious nature of this charge and how it can affect your life. Make sure you are professionally represented in court, so this possibly simple mistake doesn’t follow you forever.
What Else Do I Need to Know About a Reckless Driving Charge In Virginia?
Laws change all the time, and Virginia has modified the reckless driving laws over the years.
Virginia law now defines reckless driving as driving recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person regardless of the speed limit. However, there is also a type of reckless driving just based on how fast you are speeding regardless of the manner of driving. This type of reckless driving by speed is defined as driving at a speed of 20 miles per hour or more above the speed limit or (ii) in excess of 85 miles per hour regardless of the speed limit. Virginia is one of only a few states that classify speeding as a criminal offense of reckless driving.
Law enforcement officers pull over thousands of drivers every day for traffic violations, many times resulting in criminal charges for the alleged violations. So, make sure you have suitable legal representation to protect your rights and freedoms.
I’ve Been Charged with Reckless Driving, What Should I Do First?
It’s clear now that the consequences of a reckless driving charge can be severe and result in life-changing penalties on you. The Roanoke law firm of Seth C. Weston is highly experienced in helping clients fight or resolve reckless driving charges. Consult with them now, before your future is severely impacted.