Any motorist can suffer from a lapse of judgment or make a careless error when driving, but laws are extremely harsh when negligent acts cross over into recklessness. Under Virginia’s statute on reckless driving in Virginia, you could be charged with a serious offense if you drive with wanton disregard of safety and put other road users at risk of death or injury. The legal implications are extensive and may come as a surprise if you believe some of the popular misconceptions about reckless driving.
You are not alone if you thought reckless driving was not a big deal, since many drivers are confused about the severity of these cases. It is critical to retain a Virginia reckless driving defense attorney right away for legal help, but debunking common myths should provide you with some clarity.
Myth: Reckless driving is just a traffic violation. You might expect a traffic-related matter to be grounds for a ticket, but reckless driving is a far more serious legal violation. It is a crime, for which police can make an arrest and charge you with a Class 1 Misdemeanor. If convicted, you could face up to 12 months in jail and a fine up to $2,500. You could even face a Class 6 Felony, punishable by 1-5 years in prison, if:
- You were driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license; or,
- You caused a fatal accident.
Myth: A criminal conviction for reckless driving will not affect my driver’s license. Now that you know it is a crime, you might assume that any penalties will be solely criminal in nature. This is not the case, as there are additional consequences if you are convicted on reckless driving charges. The court can suspend your driver’s license for six months. Plus, you will receive six demerit points on your driving record, and the conviction remains there for 11 years. Note that your driving privileges can also be suspended by the Virginia DMV if you accumulate 18 points in a year.
Myth: I cannot face reckless driving charges for speeding. Speeding is a moving violation, but excessive speed can also lead to a reckless driving arrest. If you were driving more than 85 mph OR in excess of 20 mph over the posted limit, you will receive a speeding ticket and face reckless driving charges. In addition, it is also reckless driving to:
- Drag race;
- Fail to “move over” for an emergency vehicle on the side of the road;
- Fail to stop for a stopped school bus with its lights flashing; and,
- Drive in a dangerous manner without regard to the road conditions.
Myth: The best strategy for reckless driving cases is to plead guilty. When you realize that you are facing criminal charges instead of a traffic ticket, you can appreciate that admitting guilt is not a wise approach. There may be defenses to the allegations, especially since some forms of reckless driving are based upon a police officer’s subjective opinion. Alternatively, there may be actions you can take that could get the court to reduce the charges to improper driving under Virginia law – which IS a traffic infraction subject to a fine.
Count on a Virginia Reckless Driving Defense Lawyer for Legal Help
Hopefully, this summary clears up these and other popular myths about reckless driving, but there are many other subtleties under Virginia law that impact your case. You are at a serious disadvantage if you try to represent yourself, so trust our team at Shannon & Associates, P.C. to fight the charges. To learn more about our legal in reckless driving cases and other criminal matters, please contact our firm to set up a consultation at our Chesapeake, VA office. A Virginia reckless driving defense attorney can advise you on your options after reviewing the details of your case.