In Virginia, a charge of reckless driving isn't just about paying a fine and moving on with your life. It's a charge that has significant criminal teeth. Many people underestimate the seriousness of a reckless driving charge and find themselves surprised by the consequences when they appear in court.
Don't let that happen to you. Speak to an attorney who has helped numerous people who have been faced with charges of reckless driving. John Kassabian of Kassabian and Kassabian, PLC, in Fairfax, VA, can work with you to determine the best way to defend yourself against reckless driving charges.
WHAT EXACTLY IS RECKLESS DRIVING IN VIRGINIA?
The Code of Virginia (§ 46.2-852) defines a reckless driver as one who drives in such a way that "endanger[s] the life, limb, or property of any person."
Several different driving offenses are considered reckless driving. The most general definition is speeding by more than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or going faster than 85 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit. However, other forms of reckless driving are considered to be just as serious. This includes, but is not limited to, racing, passing inappropriately (such as overtaking an emergency vehicle or a vehicle on the crest of a hill), and driving too fast for present conditions—which could be poor visibility due to weather, slick roads, or road construction.
Any reckless driving charge results in six demerit points on your DMV record. Most reckless driving demerit points stay on your record for 11 years. Adult driver's licenses can be administratively impacted or even suspended through the DMV if the driver accumulates 18 points within one year or 24 points within two years.
Reckless driving is different than aggressive driving, which includes infractions such as following another vehicle too closely or failed to yield the right-of-way when entering a highway. Aggressive driving is punished with a Class 2 misdemeanor: up to six months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000.
WHAT IS THE CRIMINAL PENALTY FOR RECKLESS DRIVING IN VIRGINIA?
Depending on the severity of the charge, a reckless driver may be convicted of either a Class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500, or a Class 6 Felony, punishable by one to five years in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.
Stiffer penalties can be assigned depending on the action of the driver. For example, if the driver causes the death of another person while racing, they will be charged with a felony that requires incarceration of a mandatory minimum of one year and up to 20 years' imprisonment.
It is possible for the court to determine that the defendant is not guilty of reckless driving and that the facts and circumstance rise no higher than a simple traffic infraction of improper driving. Improper driving is considered a moving violation, which is punishable by a fine of up to $500 and carries 3 demerit points with DMV.
AN ATTORNEY CAN HELP
If you've been charged with reckless driving, it's important to work with an attorney to figure out your best defense of the charges. Since reckless driving can carry harsh penalties, you may find that this charge causes major upset in your life, such as jail, high fines, and/or loss of driving privileges--all of which may impact your ability to travel to and from work and other necessary daily driving needs. It may also impact an existing or future security clearance.
Contact John Kassabian of Kassabian and Kassabian, PLC, which services defendants in Prince William County and Fairfax County to get a free consultation. He can help you determine the best course of action.