In most circumstances, reckless driving is charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor under Virginia law. The penalties for a Class 1 misdemeanor conviction can include up to a year in jail, up to $2,500 in fines, driver’s license suspension, and six (6) demerit points on your driving record. That being said, there are instances when an officer might charge you with reckless driving as a felony.
- If you were charged with reckless driving and your driver’s license was suspended or revoked for a moving traffic violation, and your reckless driving offense caused the death of another person.
- Your reckless driving charge was for racing, and you seriously injured someone who is not involved in the race.
- Your reckless driving charge was for racing and someone was killed because of the race.
In the first two instances, reckless driving is charged as a Class 6 felony. If convicted, the penalties include jail time of up to 12 months or prison time of up to five (5) years and a fine of up to $2,500.
When someone is killed because of a drag race, Virginia Code §46.2-865.1 creates a special felony with a penalty of one to 20 years in prison, with a mandatory minimum of one year served. You also face having your driver’s license suspended for one to three years.
For felony reckless driving charged for license suspension, you may face additional days or months of license suspension if convicted. You will also have more demerit points on your driving record as well as a permanent criminal record that can impact your future. This will follow you, even if you decide to move out of state.
If you’ve been charged with felony reckless driving — especially if someone was killed — It’s essential to have an experienced Virginia defense lawyer who can help you manage your case and mitigate the consequences you face.
With a reckless driving conviction of any kind, you may find it difficult to get a new job, maintain current employment, rent an apartment, or pass for security clearance. In some instances, a former partner could request changes to custodial agreements or visitation rights as a result of your criminal record. Furthermore, your auto insurance premiums will likely increase; on average, a reckless driving conviction leads to a 22 percent increase in rates.
Can a lawyer help? Simply put – yes. You should seek out a criminal defense attorney who has the experience defending clients in cases like these and in critically reviewing evidence against you. It can make a difference between a stressful yet temporary time in your life and a serious criminal conviction that can haunt you. In hiring a reckless driving lawyer, you should be sure to ask how many felony reckless driving cases and related criminal traffic cases he or she has handled over the years. (Related cases could include DUI/DWI, aggressive driving, vehicular assault, and vehicular manslaughter.)