A reckless driving charge in Virginia carries a mandatory penalty of up to $2,500 in fines, up to one year in jail, and six points on your driving record. Your license may also be suspended for six months.
Every driver knows that speeding will earn you a ticket—but if you’re going more than a few miles above the speed limit, you might be heading towards a reckless driving charge. This type of violation, which covers a broad range of failures to obey the rules of the road, often carries serious penalties, and the charges can stay on your record for years.
In this article,
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Jerry is breaking down everything you need to know about Virginia’s reckless driving laws to avoid a serious penalty. We'll also show you how to save on your
Virginia insurance costs, so keep reading!
How does Virginia define reckless driving?
The Code of Virginia defines reckless driving as driving “recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.”
But what does that really mean? In general, Virginia reckless driving charges fall into two categories: (1) speeding charges and (2) other moving violations. Speeding is considered reckless driving if you’re going 20 miles over the speed limit or more than 80 mph on any road.
You can also be charged with reckless driving for:
Driving too fast for weather conditions
Drag racing or spinning wheels
Driving with malfunctioning brakes
Driving an overloaded vehicle with poor visibility
Ultimately, it’s up to the discretion of the law enforcement officer to decide whether a moving violation constitutes reckless driving.
What are the penalties for reckless driving in Virginia?
No matter what the actual offense was, a reckless driving charge is a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. That’s a criminal charge, so you won’t be able to get the ticket dismissed by simply paying a fine.
The penalties for misdemeanor reckless driving are:
6 points on your Virginia driving record
Potential 6-month suspension of Virginia drivers license
In a few cases, reckless driving can be a felony charge. If you killed someone as the result of reckless driving behaviors or if your license was suspended or revoked at the time of the incident, you could be charged with felony reckless driving. This charge carries the following penalties:
1-3 year license suspension
In other words, under Virginia law, if you delay getting your brakes fixed and accidentally cause a fatal accident as a result, you could be looking at 20 years in prison for reckless driving.
Key Takeaway: You don’t have to be drag racing or intentionally causing trouble to go to jail for reckless driving. Anything that unnecessarily endangers other people could be subject to a reckless driving charge.
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How can I remove a reckless driving charge from my record?
Unlike other traffic violations, reckless driving is a criminal charge that won’t just go away when you pay your fine. You’ll need to appear in court, and you may be sentenced to jail time.
Under most circumstances, the six points added to your Virginia driving record for reckless driving will stay there for 11 years. However, if you can convince the judge or the officer who wrote your ticket to reduce or drop the charges, you may be able to clean up your record sooner.
Because reckless driving charges cover such a wide range of unsafe driving behaviors, there’s no single strategy that can get your charges reduced. However, consider some of the following approaches:
If you can demonstrate that either your speedometer or the officer’s radar device were malfunctioning, you may be eligible for a reduced or dropped charge.
If you have an otherwise clean driving record, a judge may be willing to reduce your charges.
If you were charged with reckless driving for a vehicle malfunction (e.g. faulty brakes) and can prove that you were unaware of the issue or were on your way to have the car fixed, the court may drop the charges.
If you were speeding due to an emergency situation, an officer or judge may be sympathetic and reduce your charge.
Will reckless driving make my insurance go up?
A reckless driving charge is one of the traffic violations with the greatest impact on your insurance premium. On average, you can expect your insurance to go up by about 84% if you’re charged with reckless driving.
Because the consequences of a reckless driving charge are so serious, it’s best to avoid the charge in the first place by maintaining safe driving habits. Taking a defensive driving course, checking your points at the DMV, and fighting any minor traffic violations can help you keep your record clean and avoid a hike in insurance rates.
How to find affordable car insurance in Virginia
Keep in mind that your insurance company probably won’t raise your rate following a reckless driving charge until it’s time to renew your policy. Depending on the timing, you may be able to carry on at your original rate for a few months—but when renewal rolls around, it’s time to shop for a new low rate.
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