What Reckless Driving Means in Virginia

By | August 3, 2018

Virginia is, by population, the 11th largest state in the United States of America and 36th by landmass. The Commonwealth of Virginia contains urban, rural, and suburban areas along with big cities, mountainous terrain and a coastline lining up with the Atlantic.

A state as big as Virginia is bound to generate and withstand a lot of vehicular traffic, and hence bound to have stringent measures to safeguard civilians and objects from accidents and traffic offenses. Reckless driving in Virginia is a criminal offense. It is punishable as a Class 1 Misdemeanor and finds legal substantiation under various sections of Virginia Law.

Section 46.2-852 generalizes Reckless Driving as driving a motor vehicle on a public road in a way that threatens other people or property.

Section 46.2-853 claims improper control or inadequately adjusted brakes as an element of Reckless Driving.

Section 46.2-854 describes passing another vehicle approaching the crest of a hill or in other cases where the view is obstructed as Reckless Driving

All these statutes and sections, along with sections 46.2-855 to 46.2-865 substantiate Virginia codes and laws regarding reckless driving.

What does ‘reckless’ signify in Virginia Law?

Within the scope of Virginia’s Reckless Driving Statutes, reckless merely refers to “a disregard for the driver of a motor vehicle for the consequences of his act and an indifference to the safety of life, limb or property.” Powers v. Commonwealth, 1970

What are the consequences?

Since it is a class 1 misdemeanor, reckless driving allows for payment of a fine to dismiss charges – however, it must be noted that within Virginia, paying your way out of a legal predicament (even if it is small) means that it will show in your records. Hence, it is not always best practice to solve the problem through financial means. The payment required can vary based on a lot of factors, including jurisdiction rules and driver’s past driving record.

A suspended license is also a likely consequence of reckless driving. Some judicial officers or judges might suspend driver licenses if the driver was going more than twice the speed limit, clearly signifying disdain for Virginia Code and understanding of recklessness in this context.

Realistically speaking, jail time is not a typical penalty for recklessness in driving. However, it is not absolute that jail time is completely off the table for reckless driving offenders – over-speeding at a significantly severe extent can still land you in jail. Hence it becomes crucial to speak with a traffic attorney to gain a better perspective of the situation and how to deal with it while incurring minimal damages.

Another likely and plausible scenario is that your Insurance Premium Rates will increase, the extent of this is very subjective as per the policies of your insurance provider or agent.

Loss of employment can occur, especially for workers whose living and jobs depend upon their driving skills or their driving license.

What should I do in the case of being charged with Reckless Driving?

The primary goal in most reckless driving cases is, first and foremost, to lessen the charge from reckless driving to improper driving. Improper driving constitutes a traffic infraction and not a criminal offense or charge, and hence the consequences are far less severe. Improper driving also carries only three demerit points in stark contrast to 6 demerit points carried by reckless driving offenses.

Another critical aspect of the legal and judicial process involving reckless driving is that the Virginia Code allows a traffic court judge to enlist a defendant in a driver improvement program. Successful completion of the program can entail the conviction being dismissed or, at the very least, reduced.