You may have more questions than answers when it comes to reckless driving. Our philosophy is that the more you know, the better your situation can be. Please find some frequently asked questions about reckless driving below. If you can’t find an answer to your specific question or you want to know how we might be able to help you, please give us a call or email us.
What is reckless driving?
Reckless driving is a broad term in Virginia. You can be charged with reckless driving for one of more than a dozen very specific driving behaviors, such as passing a school bus or emergency vehicle. You also can be charged if you do something that police officer interprets as putting other people’s life, limb, or property in danger of harm. Unlike other moving violations, reckless driving is a crime in Virginia and can lead to jail time, hefty fines, and loss of driving privileges.
Can I pre-pay my reckless driving ticket?
In Virginia, reckless driving is a criminal offense rather than a traffic ticket. As such, Virginia courts do not allow pre-payment of reckless driving fines.
Do I have to go to court if I got a reckless driving ticket?
Because reckless driving is a criminal offense, you will have to either appear in court to plead to the charge or hire a lawyer to appear in court on your behalf.
Can I go to jail for reckless driving?
It is possible to be sentenced to jail time for a reckless driving conviction in Virginia. Under most circumstances, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which can be penalized with up to 12 months in jail. Sometimes reckless driving can be a felony and can carry a sentence of multiple years in jail. Those are maximum sentences, and how much jail time you receive — if any — will depend upon the individual factors of your case. Your best option for avoiding or minimizing jail time for a reckless driving conviction is to hire an experienced traffic defense attorney to represent you.
Do I need a lawyer if I’ve been charged with reckless driving?
You have the right to represent yourself in court, but it’s often a better strategy to hire a qualified criminal defense attorney who knows the court system, prosecutors, and judges in the jurisdiction where your case is pending. Some jurisdictions, such as Fairfax County, won’t negotiate with you directly for a lesser charge or reduced penalty, so if you want to try for some kind of deal you have to be represented by a lawyer.
Hiring a lawyer also is beneficial if you’re from out of the area — either another part of Virginia or outside the state. Most Virginia courts will allow an attorney to represent you without you being present, which means less time away from your job, your family, or from school if you’re a student.
How many points will reckless driving add to my driver’s license?
Reckless driving is a six-point offense in Virginia, and those points stay on your record for 11 years. Those points are applied automatically when you’re convicted, and there’s no discretion for a judge to order fewer points for a reckless driving conviction. However, a traffic defense attorney may be able to negotiate a deal for a lesser charge, such as improper driving, with fewer points if you’re concerned about racking up points on your license and incurring a possible suspension.
Can I lose my license if I’m convicted of reckless driving?
It’s possible that your driver’s license may be suspended if you’re convicted of reckless driving in Virginia. When reckless driving is a misdemeanor, judges have the option to impose a suspension of 10 days to six months. If your conviction is for one of the felony forms of reckless driving, you may face a license suspension for as long as three years.
If you’re represented by a traffic defense attorney, your attorney may be able to persuade the judge to impose a shorter suspension or no suspension at all, depending upon the circumstances of your case. You’re less likely to be able to convince the judge without help from an attorney.
If my license is suspended for reckless driving, can I get a restricted license to drive to work?
You may be able to get limited driving privileges to drive to places such as work, school, or church. A qualified defense attorney can evaluate your case and discuss whether a restricted driver’s license might be an option for you.
How will a reckless driving conviction affect my CDL?
Reckless driving is considered a serious violation for purposes of a commercial driver’s license in Virginia. A first offense won’t typically result in your CDL being disqualified, but Virginia’s CDL rules say that two serious offenses in three years — even if committed in your own personal vehicle — result in a 60-day disqualification. Three or more serious offenses in three years result in a 120-day disqualification. If you hold a CDL and have been charged with reckless driving, it’s imperative that you consult with an experienced traffic defense attorney if you want to avoid another conviction that could result in even the temporary loss of your CDL. A lawyer may be able to negotiate to have your reckless driving charge reduced to a lesser offense that may not have as severe an impact on your CDL, or possibly get your charge dismissed if the facts and evidence are on your side.
How will a reckless driving conviction affect my car insurance?
Every motor vehicle insurance company will have its own internal policies for how it treats a reckless driving conviction, but the reality is that a reckless driving conviction most likely will make you look like a higher risk to your insurance company and you’ll probably be asked to pay more to maintain your insurance. Virginia requires drivers to have certain amounts of insurance coverage, and the penalties can be harsh if you drive without it. Your best chance at avoiding higher premiums is to hire a lawyer who may be able to get your charge reduced or dismissed, if circumstances allow.
I got a reckless driving ticket in Virginia, but I don’t live there. What do I do?
Virginia treats reckless driving as a crime, which means you can’t just pay the ticket and make it go away. You’ll have to appear in court to enter a plea, and if you plead not guilty you have to go through the process of hearings and maybe even a trial. If you choose to represent yourself, you’ll have to travel back to Virginia for each court date — which can quickly become time-consuming and expensive. The good news for out-of-state drivers is that most Virginia courts will let you have a lawyer represent you in court without you having to physically appear.
Will I be able to get a security clearance if I have a reckless driving conviction?
Whether a reckless driving conviction harms your chances of getting or keeping a security clearance is up to the officer and agency granting the clearance. In some instances, they may shrug it off. Or they may see it as an indicator that you exercise questionable judgment and shouldn’t be allowed access to sensitive information. What you need to know is that reckless driving is a criminal offense in Virginia, and unlike something like a simple speeding ticket will show up on a criminal background check. If you’re concerned about preserving your ability to get or keep a security clearance, it’s a good idea to consult with a qualified reckless driving defense attorney about your options for getting the charge reduced to a non-criminal traffic violation, or getting it dismissed and expunged from your record.