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When is Speeding Considered Reckless Driving?

Posted by John A. Kassabian | Apr 30, 2020

Photo by Ruiyang Zhang from Pexels

When it comes to reckless driving, one of the most common questions I am asked is when speeding crosses the line and becomes a reckless driving charge. Virginia law is very specific about this, and recent bills passed in the House and the Senate may be helpful to drivers, allowing them to avoid a reckless driving charge. I'll tell you more about the potential changes below as well as when a Fairfax reckless driving attorney can help.

Reckless Driving by Speed

In the Commonwealth of Virginia, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is a serious criminal charge. If you are convicted, you'll be stuck with expensive fines of up to $2500, the potential for jail time of up to 12 months, and the suspension of your driver's license for up to six months. If you think that seems out of hand for driving too fast, remember that reckless driving only covers speeding if the speed is considered truly excessive under Virginia law.

In order to be charged with reckless driving for speeding, under Virginia Code 46.2-862, you have to exceed the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour or travel 80 mph or more regardless of the speed limit. In addition, under Virginia Code 46.2-861, if you are driving too fast for traffic conditions or weather, you could face a reckless driving charge regardless of how fast you are going. This includes if you are driving below the posted speed limit.

In any of these cases, it is in your best interest to work with a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer as they may be able to get your reckless driving charge reduced to simple speeding, especially if you were not traveling at a truly excessive speed and have a clean record.

New Bills May Raise Reckless Driving Threshold to 85 mph

Drivers have long complained that some Virginia reckless driving charges involving speeding are far too harsh. For example, many Virginia interstates have a 70 mph posted speed limit. In these cases, by simply traveling at 81 mph, you could be charged with reckless driving, and be slapped with a permanent entry on your criminal record.

A recent bill proposed by Senator David Suetterlein to raise the reckless driving threshold to 85 mph in areas where the posted limit is 70 mph recently passed in both the Virginia House and the Senate. Keep in mind that although they have passed, the bills are slightly different and there must be further proceedings before they can be signed into law by the governor.

Additionally, this doesn't mean there is not debate about the potential changes: while some citizens say it is impossible to drive on Virginia interstates without going at least 80, experts insist that the decreased penalties will lead to more accidents, especially because distracted driving is becoming a more and more common cause of accidents. When you pair distracted driving with speeding, the accidents that result are often incredibly serious.

When a Lawyer Can Help

Even in the face of new laws, a reckless driving lawyer in Fairfax can often be quite useful to those who have been charged with reckless driving, or even simple speeding. For some people, a speeding charge will add too many points to their DMV record and put their license in jeopardy of suspension. For others, a lawyer can potentially get them a reduced fine, less time in jail, or possibly a reduced charge that will not remain on their criminal record permanently or cause their insurance rates to spike.

John Kassabian has helped many people with reckless driving cases get through the experience with an improved outcome so they can get on with their lives. He offers free consultations so he can carefully review your case and tell you about your options, including when fighting a speeding ticket may be worth it. 

If you need help, get in touch with Kassabian & Kassabian, PLC to discuss your case at (703) 750-3622.

About the Author

John A. Kassabian

John A. Kassabian joined the family firm in 2002 after having served as a Prosecutor in Fairfax County and Prince William County. Specializing in criminal defense, traffic defense and civil related matters, John has an extensive criminal law background and has handled a wide variety of cases for ...

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