Reckless Driving Has Far Reaching Consequences

Under Virginia law, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, not just a speeding ticket.  The potential penalties include jail time, suspension of your driver’s license, a fine of $2,500 and six demerit points on your driver’s license.

It’s easier to be charged with reckless driving than you think.  The Virginia legislature has made several types of driving behavior “reckless” under the Virginia Code.  Two of the most common citations for reckless driving are: (1) driving in a manner generally endangering others under Virginia Code 46.2-852, and (2) exceeding the speed limit under Virginia Code 46.2-862.

The first section (Section 46.2-852) for driving in a manner endangering others, is so broad that officers can apply it to almost any circumstance.  The second section (Section 46.2-862) makes your driving reckless if you are driving over 80 miles per hour.  Period. The limit of 80 miles per hour surprises drivers because on many stretches of highway the posted speed limit is 70 miles per hour.  So you can get a reckless driving criminal misdemeanor charge for going 11 miles over the speed limit.

A bill to amend the 80 miles per hour language was introduced in the 2013 session, but died in committee.

If you are traveling 81 mph on a highway in Virginia, you could face far reaching consequences, besides the ones recited in the statutes:

  • Permanent criminal record – since reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, it will remain on your permanent record.
  • Loss of job or security clearance – your future employer may not want an employee with a criminal record. A reckless driving conviction may also result in the loss of your security clearance, and you cannot be hired in most law enforcement careers.
  • Inability to rent a car – most major car rental agencies have online connections to DMV databases.  They can choose to refuse to rent you a car if you have a criminal conviction.
  • Restriction on international travel – some countries may restrict travelers with misdemeanor charges, such as a DUI, drug possession, or reckless driving.

Beware when driving in Virginia.  You could easily face a reckless driving charge.


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