Virginia Reckless Driving: Where Speeding Can Become Criminal
The Commonwealth of Virginia recognizes that speeding is an extremely dangerous behavior that can result in property damage, physical injury, and even death. That is why certain types of speeding can result in criminal charges for reckless driving, which features extremely harsh penalties.
In most cases, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If convicted, the punishment can include confinement for one year and fines of up to $2,500. Though, in cases that involve a fatality, reckless driving can become a Class 6 felony. At that level, the punishment can include confinement for one to five years and fines of up to $2,500.
Furthermore, reckless driving convictions feature mandatory driver’s license forfeiture under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-392. The forfeiture period can range from 10 days to 6months, depending on the circumstances of the offense.
In order to avoid these levels of criminal charges, Virginia drivers should maintain a reasonable speed at all times.
Minor Speeding Offenses
When a driver engages in minor speeding – exceeding the posted limit by only a few miles per hour – it is unlikely to result in reckless driving charges. Instead, the driver will likely receive a speeding ticket, which is typically punishable by a fine.
Speeding tickets are usually appropriate when a driver is operating their motor vehicle:
- Between 1 and 19 miles per hour above the posted limit; or
- Under 80 miles per hour on certain highways.
Outside of extreme situations, lower-level speeding tickets, like the ones described above, rarely rise to the level of reckless driving. Even with minor speeding offenses, there are points assessed to the driver’s license. If a driver accumulates too many points, they can face driver’s license suspension or revocation.
Excessive Speeding Offenses
Code of Virginia Section 46.2-862 details the laws that classify excessive speeding as a reckless driving offense. This section prohibits any driver from operating a motor vehicle:
- 20 miles per hour or more over the posted limit, or
- 80 miles per hour or more anywhere in the commonwealth.
Any driver who violates Section 46.2-862 is guilty of reckless driving and can face criminal penalties under Virginia law.
Unreasonable Speeding Offenses
Code of Virginia Section 46.2-868 requires all drivers to operate motor vehicles at a reasonable speed. This section does not specify a level of speed that qualifies as unreasonable. Rather, drivers must pay attention to traffic, weather, and road conditions, and adjust their speed accordingly. In these situations, it does not matter whether the driver was under the posted speed limit.
Any driver who violates Section 46.2-868 is guilty of reckless driving and can face criminal penalties under Virginia law.
Contact Us today for Help
If you have legal questions about reckless driving in Virginia, it can be decidedly productive to consult with a proficient criminal defense attorney. The Winchester reckless driving attorneys at Simms Showers LLP are demonstratively skilled in the field of criminal defense, including offenses involving reckless driving. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.