Virginia is a huge state. The Commonwealth of Virginia contains rural areas, suburbs, big cities, mountains, and a coastline right up to the Atlantic. Having a personal vehicle is vital to many people, especially in Hampton Roads where so many people come to the area under military orders or for vacation. More people, more cars, more traffic, and more potential to have a “run-in” with the police for a traffic matter.
One of the most common reasons is speed. Even going “with the flow of traffic” can lead to blue lights in your rear view mirror. This is never a good event, as even simple speeding tickets cause negative points to accumulate to one’s driving record. Even more serious is the dreaded reckless driving charge, most commonly charged under §46.2-852 and §46.2-868. Reckless Driving in Virginia is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2500 fine. It adds six points to your driving record, and the conviction stays for 11 years. Conviction of reckless driving, is the same level of offense as a DUI, first offense. If you plead guilty to reckless driving, you are pleading guilty to a criminal offense and this may result in an increase in auto insurance premiums and there may be possible employment consequences.
A person can be charged with reckless driving for a number of different reasons. The most common reason is speed. In Virginia, under §46.2-862, you can be charged with reckless due to speed by either driving 20 miles per hour over the speed limit or driving in excess of 80 miles per hour. Even if the posted speed limit is 70 mph, going 10 mph over the speed limit could result in a reckless ticket.
So you’ve got a ticket for reckless driving, and a court date. What do you do next? First contact an experienced attorney that practices in the jurisdiction you were charged to discuss your circumstances. Explain the entire event to the lawyer: what happened before, during, and after the stop. Also let the lawyer know if you were polite with the officer, it does make a difference most times, and how the office acted towards you. Be prepared to answer questions about the vehicle you were driving, how old or how new it is, as well as the status of your driving record and whether you have positive, negative or no points. Depending on your situation, you may be advised to attend a driver improvement course and depending on the circumstances, have a speedometer calibration test done on your vehicle.
While a reckless charge is serious and should be treated as such, many times an experienced lawyer can get the charge reduced to an infraction or sometimes dismissed entirely. Keep in mind that everyone has different circumstances and there is no cookie-cutter result, though the goal is the same: to take the charge out of the criminal range and protect your driving record as much as possible.