Virginia Senate Bill 768 Softens the Reckless Driving Law
In a victory for Virginia drivers recently, Senate lawmakers in Virginia voted 26 to 14 in favor of Senate Bill 768, which proposed an increase in the speed for which a driver can receive a Class 1 misdemeanor for reckless driving. This new law will make it a little easier on drivers, especially those who are not familiar with Virginia’s unusual reckless driving statute. The law that previously made traveling 80 miles per hour or faster a criminal misdemeanor has been changed to increase that to 85.
What does the law currently say about reckless driving?
Under current Virginia law, a speeder who is clocked going 20 miles per hour over the speed limit can be fined for reckless driving. This charge carries steep penalties, because unlike most states where it is merely a hefty traffic citation, in Virginia it is also a criminal Class 1 misdemeanor. Likewise, even if not traveling 20 miles per hour over the speed limit, those who are caught going over 80 miles per hour can receive the same penalty and often receive jail sentences.
How did speed limits play a role in the new legislation?
In 2010, the statewide maximum speed limit was raised to 70 miles per hour, meaning a person going just 10 miles over the posted speed limit on an interstate highway could be sentenced to jail time and get a criminal record. Tourists and out of state visitors often feel the brunt of these draconian penalties, as they are neither aware of the law nor readily able to travel back to Virginia to defend against the charges.
Lawmakers, acknowledging that this was no longer reasonable in light of the increased speed limits, raised the 80 mile per hour rule to 85. This law, which passed the Senate on February 10, 2016, is now in the House before the House Subcommittee on Criminal Law. Although it is unknown if the House will also pass the law, Virginia drivers are hopeful.
What to do if arrested for driving too fast
If you are stopped for speeding, and you were going more than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, or if you were charged with a criminal misdemeanor for travelling faster than 80 miles per hour on a Virginia roadway, you need informed and knowledgeable legal advice to help avoid even more penalties and possible jail time. While no lawyer can guarantee a specific result, Simms Showers, LLP has a long record of successfully representing drivers charged with speeding and reckless driving. Our criminal defense team regularly stays abreast to changes in legislation that affect clients and the general public. If you face serious criminal charges in Leesburg, Prince William county or anywhere in the northern Virginia area, you deserve the best legal team you can get. Call Simms Showers, LLP today.