If you have a Virginia commercial driver’s license, your CDL most likely is your lifeline. It’s what allows you to support yourself or your family, and without it you’d be challenged to figure out how to make ends meet. So you really can’t afford a reckless driving conviction that jeopardizes your license and your ability to keep driving your truck or another commercial vehicle.
What is Reckless Driving?
There are many ways that driving behavior can be considered reckless in Virginia. The general rule is that you drive recklessly if you drive in such a way as to endanger life, limb, or property. Often, the general rule is applied when there’s a car accident and the police want to cite someone but they don’t have another charge that they can make. The general reckless driving rule is supposed to apply to endangering another person’s life, limb, or property, but it’s not uncommon for police to charge reckless driving when there’s a single-vehicle accident such as a slide-off from an icy road into a ditch during a winter storm.
In addition to the general rule, Virginia has more than a dozen statutes defining other forms of reckless driving that include, among others, violations such as driving faster than 80 mph or more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit, drag racing, passing a school bus or emergency vehicle, driving with a load that blocks your view, failing to maintain your brakes, or driving too fast for highway conditions.
General Reckless Driving Penalties
Reckless driving generally is a Class 1 misdemeanor. The punishment can include up to 12 months in jail, a maximum $2,500 fine, and suspension of your driver’s license for 10 days to six months. Upon conviction, you’ll receive six demerit points on your license that stay on your driving record for 11 years.
CDL Reckless Driving Penalties
For purposes of a CDL, reckless driving is considered a serious violation. Two convictions within three years lead to a 60-day disqualification of your CDL. Three or more convictions for serious violations in three years result in a 120-day disqualification. While your CDL is disqualified, you’re not allowed to drive a commercial vehicle. You can face disqualification of your CDL even when you were driving your personal non-commercial vehicle when you were charged.
Other Possible Consequences for Commercial Drivers
When you drive commercial vehicles for a living, you may face losing your job if you’re convicted of reckless driving. A reckless driving conviction often can have the effect of driving up insurance premiums. As a result, many employers want drivers with clean records, or at most minor violations. A serious criminal violation such as reckless driving could cause them to decide they don’t want you driving for them, even if you were driving your personal vehicle at the time you were pulled over.
How a Lawyer Can Help
An attorney with experience defending commercial drivers in reckless driving cases will know what defenses may be available under the circumstances of your case that could lead to dismissal of the charge, or may be able to negotiate with prosecutors to reduce your charge so that you don’t lose your CDL. If your charge is dismissed, your attorney may be able to get it expunged from your record.