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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Speeding Ticket > When Does a Speeding Ticket Become Reckless Driving in Virginia?

When Does a Speeding Ticket Become Reckless Driving in Virginia?


When a person receives a speeding ticket in Virginia, the typical punishment usually involves a fine and several driver’s license points. In certain cases, however, speeding in Virginia can result in a criminal charge for reckless driving. At that level, the offender can face steep criminal fines and even prison time. In the most extreme cases, a reckless driving offender can even face felony charges. In light of this reality, it seems appropriate to review how a typical speeding ticket can morph into a criminal-level charge of reckless driving.

What is the Virginia Approach to Speeding Tickets?

Under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-870, there is a generally applicable speed limit across the Commonwealth of Virginia. In most circumstances, the maximum speed limit across the commonwealth is 55 miles per hour.

Any person who violates this requirement is guilty of speeding and potentially subject to a ticket and corresponding fines. That being said, there are several exceptions to the general rules against speeding. In particular, it acceptable to drive:

  • 70 miles per hour — If adhering to legally posted signs on interstate highways and other high-occupancy roads; or
  • 80 miles per hour — If adhering to legally posted signs on specific U.S. routes within the Commonwealth of Virginia.

What is the Virginia Approach to Reckless Driving & Speeding?

Under Code of Virginia Section 46.2-862, there is a point in which excessive speeding morphs into the criminal charge of reckless driving, Under this section, a person is guilty of reckless driving if they operate a vehicle:

  • 20 miles per hour or more in excess of the legally posted speed limit; or
  • 80 miles per hour, regardless of the legally posted speed limit.

When a person commits reckless driving by exceeding the speed limits outlined above, they are traditionally guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor. In Virginia, a Class 1 misdemeanor is typically punishable by up to 12 months in jail and $2,500 in criminal fines.

When Does Speeding Become Reckless Driving?

As outlined in the previous sections, a speeding ticket only morphs into a reckless driving offense under specific circumstances. In order for speeding to become reckless driving, a person must drive more than 80 miles per hour anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Alternatively, a person must operate a motor vehicle more than 20 miles above the legally posted speed limit.

Outside of the situations described previously, speeding does not generally result in criminal charges for reckless driving. And in those circumstances, the driver will likely avoid incarceration or steep criminal fines.

Let Us Help You Today

If need legal help with reckless driving or other traffic offenses in Virginia, it can be acutely beneficial to reach out to a dependable criminal defense attorney. The Leesburg speeding ticket attorneys at Simms Showers LLP feature extensive experience in the domain of criminal defense across Virginia, including reckless driving and other traffic offenses. If you need legal help with criminal defense, contact us today for a free initial consultation.


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