If you’ve ever had to leave your car in the shop for a few days, you know what a huge impact it can have on your daily life to be without your own transportation. If you commute to work, you have to ask other people for rides or take public transit, if it’s even available where you live. Then what about picking up your kids from school and getting them to extracurricular activities? Or going to the grocery store? How do you carry everything home without a car? Or if you’re a college student with a hectic schedule, how do you get from your apartment to classes and to work without being late?
Those are questions you may face if you’re convicted of reckless driving in Virginia. Reckless driving is a criminal charge that can lead to jail time and thousands of dollars in fines, but even if you’re able to avoid those particular penalties, Virginia Code § 46.2-392 allows a court to suspend your driver’s license for 10 days to six months if you’re convicted.
Driver’s License Suspension
If your license is suspended, you’ll have to turn it over to the Department of Motor Vehicles. To get it back once your suspension is over, you’ll have to meet any conditions imposed by the court — which could include completion of drug or alcohol treatment if your reckless driving charge was suspected to involve the use of substances. Conditions of getting your license back also may include:
- Showing proof that all court costs and fines related to the conviction have been paid
- Showing proof that you have car insurance
- Completion of a driver improvement clinic
You also will have to pay a reinstatement fee to the DMV before you’ll be allowed to drive again. The amount of your reinstatement fee will depend upon your individual circumstances.
You can get a document called a compliance summary from the DMV that shows all of the conditions you must meet before your license is reinstated. The DMV also can tell you the amount of your reinstatement fee.
Another consequence of a reckless driving conviction is the addition of demerit points to your driver’s license. Demerit points are placed upon your driving record when you commit a traffic infraction or a traffic-related criminal offense.
In Virginia, reckless driving is a six-point offense, meaning that many points are added to your license. Six points is the most assigned to any single offense, so this should tell you that Virginia takes reckless driving charges seriously. In terms of demerit points, Virginia treats reckless driving just like a DUI or vehicular manslaughter.
The demerit points you accrue from a reckless driving conviction stay on your driving record for 11 years. If you already have points, accruing too many in too short a period of time can lead to suspension of your license. Your driver’s license after reckless driving could also mean hikes in your auto insurance premiums or other related consequences.
How a Lawyer Can Help
A Northern Virginia traffic lawyer who is experienced at defending reckless driving charges in this area may be able to convince a prosecutor or judge to reduce your charge to something like improper driving, which has less severe consequences and fewer points on your license. If your defense attorney can negotiate for a lesser charge, you may be able to avoid a driver’s license suspension. If the evidence is on your side, an experienced defense lawyer may be able to get your charge dismissed.
Whether this is possible will depend upon your individual circumstances, including the facts and evidence surrounding your reckless driving charge and your driving history. A good driving history may help, while a history that includes previous infractions and existing points on your license may harm your chances at the desired outcome.