Reckless Driving in Virginia: Va Code § 46.2-862

What is reckless driving in Virginia?

Reckless driving under Virginia statute is someone who drives his/her vehicle “on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” VA Code § 46.2-862. To drive recklessly in Virginia is to have a “disregard for the driver of a motor vehicle for the consequences of his act and an indifference to the safety of life, limb, or property.” Powers v. Commonwealth, 211 Va. 386, 388, 177 S.E. 2d 628, 630 (1970).

  • Reckless driving is automatically kicked in when you are either going 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit (ex: going 75 in a 55) or going above 80 miles per hour (regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit).

What are the maximum penalties for reckless driving?

Reckless driving in Virginia is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor. A class 1 misdemeanor holds the following maximum punishments:

  • Fines: Class 1 misdemeanors carry a fine of up to $2,500. However, the actual amount you will end up paying will vary depending on your specific situation including but not limited to: your record, your speed, the judge hearing your case, and the local court policy.
  • Jail Time: Active jail time is an allowable penalty for a Class 1 Misdemeanor and it can be anywhere from 0-12 months. Jail time, much like the fines, will vary depending on your speed, your record, and the local rules. The higher your speed, the more likely jail time becomes.
  • Suspended License: Many people who receive reckless driving tickets also face a great risk of having their license suspended.
  • DMV points: A reckless driving charge will give you 6 driving points for a Virginia license.
  • Criminal conviction: Virginia does not allow for expungements on criminal conviction. In simple words, if convicted of the misdemeanor, you will not be able to remove it from your record ever. This can have affects in many areas of your life including immigration status, security clearance, and background checks for employment.

Should I pay my ticket/plead guilty?

Paying your ticket admits guilt and you will be convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor. You should consult an attorney to see the range of mitigating factors that can help you get a reduced punishment or charge reduction.

Should you get an attorney?

Yes, as mentioned, paying and pleading guilty for reckless driving admits guilt to a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Speaking to an attorney allows you to explore your specific circumstances surrounding your charge including but not limited to possible defenses, weaknesses in your case, reduced punishments, and even a reduced charge given your criminal and driving history.

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