Virginia Reckless Driving FAQ

[kc_background_pac_3_underline_19 size=”35″ color=”#000000″ ]Reckless Driving in Virginia Frequently Asked Questions[/kc_background_pac_3_underline_19]

How Will a Lawyer Help Me if Charged with Reckless Driving?

How Likely is Jail Time if I am Found Guilty?

Reckless Driving Charge: On Your Record for a Decade?

Jail vs. No Jail – Reckless Driving

If Charged, Some Facts May Work in Your Favor (Sentencing)

Jail for Reckless Driving is a Possible Consequence: True or False?

If found guilty of reckless driving, can I appeal?

What if I Think My Speedometer is Broken?

Do I Need to Bring Anything to Meet My Lawyer?

Can a “Driver Improvement” Class Help?

Reckless Driving refers to driving 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit, right?

Do I really need an attorney to represent me for my Reckless Driving ticket?

What penalties do I face if charged and convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia?

What can a lawyer do that I cannot  do on my own, if I am charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia?

What if I have either already admitted my guilt to the officer, or intend to plead guilty?  Is it still necessary to have a lawyer?

Is texting and driving against the law in Virginia?

What are the fines for texting and driving in Virginia?

What if I get a ticket driving in Virginia but I am a resident of another state?


[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]How Will a Lawyer Help Me if Charged with Reckless Driving?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

First, if the charge involves excessive speed and/or other facts leading a person to believe jail time is possible, many times such individuals will seek a lawyer quickly.  Other times, the fact that a conviction of Reckless Driving is something that will stay on one’s Criminal Record (as it is a misdemeanor crime) is another popular reason for drivers to seek an attorney.  Sometimes a job is at stake: for instance, if you work for the federal government or a contractor for the federal government (as many people in the D.C. Metro location do), there may be a concern about a security clearance.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]How Likely is Jail Time if I am Found Guilty?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

The jail time one convicted of Reckless Driving in Fairfax County or Fairfax City may receive depends upon the facts and circumstances, the person’s driving record, and the judge involved.  In Fairfax County, it has been common for convicted individuals to receive a day in jail (maybe more) for each mile-per-hour the driver was speeding over 90 mph.  This is also pertinent to a Fairfax Reckless charge if you have allegedly surpassed 35 mph over the limit in a lower limit zone (e.g., work, school zones, residential areas, etc.).

It only takes a little research for a person in Virginia who has been charged with reckless driving to realize they may seriously wish to consider hiring a Northern Virginia Reckless Driving traffic defense attorney.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Reckless Driving Charge: On Your Record for a Decade?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

A conviction on an individual’s driving record can remain there for 11 years. Since it is a misdemeanor, it could potentially remain on your actual criminal record for life…not to mention other long-term consequences related to insurance (health, driving, etc.)

Reckless Driving in Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor, a criminal offense with consequences much like a DWI or Assault and Battery conviction.

Jail vs. No Jail – Reckless Driving

One of the biggest concerns for those charged with a crime carrying a potential jail sentence if convicted is whether or not they will in fact have to go to jail…time away from a spouse, kids, a job, not to mention the uncomfortable atmosphere compared to “the outside.”  Many people want to know, will I go to jail if the judge finds me guilty?  The answer is always, “it depends” on the facts of your case.  You can contact a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer for a free case evaluation. 

If Charged, Some Facts May Work in Your Favor (Sentencing)

To view the video on factors: Click on the thumbnail below this sentence like the previous video.

If the answer to one of the “answers” to the “questions” presented in the video would not present the charged person in a better light, the Northern Virginia criminal defense lawyer handling the case would not seek to draw attention to it.

While your lawyer can help you understand where your case is strong and where it is weak, one variable that is difficult to ascertain until the judge is known is his or her tendencies and perspectives.  Some judges are more flexible than others when it comes to certain crimes, issues, etc. 

Jail for Reckless Driving is a Possible Consequence: True or False?

The criminal justice system in Virginia punishes some crimes with potential jail time.  In fact, Reckless Driving can be punished by time in jail, despite any misconception that Reckless Driving is a non-criminal traffic violation.  Reckless Driving, as stated above, is a criminal charge and must be taken seriously. In the case of Reckless Driving in Northern Virginia, Fairfax County, or surrounding areas, (and all of Virginia), whether or not the Reckless Driving conviction could lead to jail time is something to discuss with your lawyer.

If found guilty of reckless driving, can I appeal?

Yes, but the individual who wants to appeal (or his attorney must act quickly).  An appeal must be filed with the clerk of the court within just ten (10) days from the order. 

There is an important aspect of a typical General District Court trial and it may affect whether an individual who has been found guilty wants to pursue an appeal or not: the trial at the General District Court level is “de novo,” which means that if a result is attained in General District Court, and the individual is not satisfied with that result, an appeal to the Circuit Court could produce in a less desirable result!  This is because the subsequent appeal is essentially a new trial (where things can go better or worse, of course).   There are certain differences, such as the ability to have a trial by jury if you so choose. 

What if I Think My Speedometer is Broken?

Recalibrating your speedometer – and find out if your speedometer has been providing false or inaccurate readings – can be a good idea, but only in some cases.  At Vincenzes Law, PLLC we care about our clients and take pride in going the extra mile.  If we represent you as your lawyer for Reckless Driving, we will analyze your case to determine whether recalibrating your speedometer would be a good idea and may help you with a positive resolution of your case.  If Vincenzes Law, PLLC, Northern Virginia’s traffic lawyers, do suggest recalibration, we explain to our clients why choosing an auto mechanic is important.  The right machinery is necessary to do this job.  In this case, a “dynamometer” is used in a way similar to a treadmill works, but for your vehicle.  The point, of course, is to determine

Do I Need to Bring Anything to Meet My Lawyer?

After talking to a proficient traffic defense lawyer who you feel confident is going to pay attention to your Reckless Driving charge, most attorneys will want to meet you and get your version of the facts.  You can help your attorney by doing the following:

Get a Copy of Your Virginia DMV Driving Record

Providing your lawyer with a very recent DMV driving record (and criminal record, if applicable), can help your lawyer get started as soon as possible.  This is important if there are time pressures.  The reason your Virginia Traffic Lawyer will want to look at your driving record is to analyze your past, for the purpose of explaining to you what possibilities you might face, what adversities possibly will arise, and the information relevant to any other part of the process.

Recalibration of a speedometer using a dynamometer is particularly relevant to cases where one is charged with reckless driving and is “right on the line” as far as how/which penalties are assessed or likely to be assessed.  This is also something to consider when charged due to speeding over 90 mph.

Can a “Driver Improvement” Class Help?

If recommended by your Reckless Driving attorney, take a driver improvement course.

Each individual’s situation is not the same. Virginia’s system for violations of Virginia traffic laws is unlike many other states.

For example, traffic violations in Fairfax, Manassas, and Leesburg result in 3, 4, or 6 points (on the DMV driving record, unless it is a non-moving violation).  Other areas assess lower point values, so drivers should keep this discrepancy in mind when traveling around the Northern Virginia area.

Points on a driving record lead to financial implications and less leniency if charged with a moving violation later.  In Virginia, points can be deducted or off-set by earning positive or “good” points via driver education/behavior classes.  If you have been driving for several years with no violations, you may be happy to learn each year a positive point is applied to your DMV record in Virginia.

If you want to proactively improve your record, your lawyer may have more information for you.  See our DMV resources section on this page or on our Resources page, too.

Whether or not it is a good idea to complete a driver improvement course, which course to take, and where to take it all should be thoroughly researched or answered by your attorney.  If a charged individual has a poor record, a different class may be recommended compared to a driver charged with an excellent record (just as an example).

If charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia, and you have an upcoming court date in Fairfax (or Fairfax County), seriously consider an initial, casual case evaluation with your Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer.  Vincenzes Law, PLLC will listen, answer questions (including how to get the most out of a driver’s improvement course, if one is recommended), and much more.

Even if you are from another state, Virginia Reckless Driving laws may apply if you were charged while traveling through the Commonwealth.  Although the DMV information and points may differ for an out-of-state driver, still speak with a Fairfax Criminal and Traffic Law Attorney for a free case evaluation.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Reckless Driving Refers to driving 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit, right?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

While it may indeed be considered “Reckless Driving,” this specific example is misleading in that the law is not so simple.  Reckless Driving is a charge that may be based on any of a number of violations, including:

–           failing to maintain control of a vehicle;

–          driving in a way so as to pose a threat to life;

–           speeding (also known as Reckless Speeding);

–          (soon, texting while driving!);

–          And others…

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Do I really need an attorney for my Reckless Driving ticket?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Reckless Driving tends to be a charge many members of the public view as “just serious enough” to warrant the retention of a criminal law and traffic attorney in Virginia.  While having a lawyer is a good idea regardless of the charges you face, this public sentiment may be due to the harsh consequences a conviction can bring: penalties can cost a guilty defendant up to $2,500, not to mention his or her license may be suspended for up to six months, and even time in jail (up to a year) is possible.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]What are the potential penalties for a Reckless Driving charge in Virginia?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

A fine of up to $2,500 may be imposed and time in jail is a possibility.  One of the most detrimental penalties is a driver’s license suspension.  This can disrupt day-to-day life, and as such, the charge should be treated seriously.  If the consequences are serious, you should speak to an attorney even if you think you may be guilty.  Often, a mitigating circumstance exists, or if the case has no such facts, the prosecution may offer a deal to you, which your attorney can advise you of and provide his opinion on.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]What can a lawyer do that I can’t do on my own when facing a Reckless Driving ticket?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

The first thing your attorney will likely do is assess the facts  based on any available records, evidence, reports, etc., and most important of all, your version of the facts.  This fact-finding is important in order to make sure any defenses available are explored for potential use.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]What if I admit or have admitted to the police to the charged violations, but simply want the best sentencing outcome?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Often this is the case: your attorney can speak with the prosecution (the Commonwealth) and attempt to mitigate, reduce, or dismiss the charge or charges as part of a plea bargain.  You ultimately always have the final say when choosing to accept a plea bargain arrangement

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Is Texting and Driving against the law in Virginia?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Yes, it is against the law to text while driving a motor vehicle in Virginia.  Drivers must pay attention to this area of the law, as it is and has been developing fast.  For example, texting and driving has been punishable by a relatively small fine of $20, and as just a “secondary offense.”  But that is all about to change:

Note: (see our blog post for more information on texting while driving, and be sure to subscribe to our free eNewsletter on changes to traffic laws and more in Virginia).

A new law set to take effect July 1, 2013, will make texting while driving a primary offense, meaning police will be able to stop motorists for this activity.  In a bit of good news for Virginia motorists, the original legislation’s fines seemed too high for Governor Bog McDonnell.  McDonnell’s proposal to reduce the new fines by 50% was accepted by the General Assembly in April, 2013.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]What are the Fines for Texting and Driving in Virginia?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Prior to July 1, 2013, texting and driving is a secondary offense – meaning law enforcement may only stop you for something else – and carries a fine of $20.  This is about to change dramatically.  Set to take effect July 1, 2013, a new law in Virginia will increase fines to $125 for first time offenders.  Subsequent offenses will be fined $250 (up from just $50).  Additionally, drivers convicted of reckless Driving and who also were texting at the time of the offense, an additional $250 fine will impose.

[kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3 size=”36″ color=”#000000″]Do I need to be concerned about a Virginia traffic ticket if I live in another state?[/kc_background_pac_2_highlight_3]

Yes, you do need to be concerned and treat this ticket like any other.  A Virginia traffic offense can cause an issue for a citizen of another state.  A prime example: a North Carolina driver’s license will be suspended if he or she is convicted of driving more than 15 miles per hour over the speed limit in a zone where the posted limit is 55 miles per hour or greater, even if that place is in Virginia.

Another problem is encountered by those deemed “habitual offenders” in Virginia and driver’s license renewals.  Many states consider a person a habitual offender for purposes of issuing a driving license even if such status is the result of actions taken in another state.

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Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, National College of DUI Defense, NORML, and has been awarded the following in 2014-15: Top 100 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Top 40 Under 40 Trial Lawyer (National Trial Lawyers) Nationally Ranked Top 10 Under 40 Defense Attorney (National Academy of Criminal Defense Attorneys) 10 Best in Client Satisfaction for Criminal Defense (American Institute of Criminal Law Attorneys) Nationally Ranked Top 1% Attorney Award Recipient (National Association of Distinguished Counsel) As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes select pro bono clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes represents men, women, and juveniles through zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work preparation. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.

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