Reckless driving is one of the more common traffic or vehicle-related offenses individuals commit and often accompanies another crime such as a DUI. If you're curious about reckless driving penalties or find yourself embroiled in a reckless driving case, today's blog will help you understand what to expect from a reckless driving charge.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we help Virginians navigate criminal defense cases, including DUI and reckless driving disputes.
To schedule a consultation with our team and receive the experienced, compassionate legal representation you deserve, contact us online or via phone at (757) 517-2942.
What Is Reckless Driving?
Under the Code of Virginia, reckless driving is actually listed as a criminal offense instead of a moving violation.
Section 46.2-852 defines reckless driving as operating a vehicle "Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving."
Essentially, reckless driving is a kind of "catch-all" offense intended to penalize drivers who put other individuals at risk by operating a vehicle carelessly.
It's important to note that "reckless driving" is not the same thing as speeding. Speeding is a traffic infraction, while reckless driving is a criminal offense.
Going above the speed limit may result in a speeding ticket. However, going more than 20 miles per hour (mph) beyond the listed speed limit on a road (or more than 80mph on any road, including the highway) could result in a more severe reckless driving charge.
Some common examples of behaviors that can result in a reckless driving charge include:
- Engaging in "street racing" with other drivers on the road;
- Surpassing the speed limit by 20mph or going 80mph regardless of speed limits (as mentioned above), or exceeding the limit that would be safe for given traffic conditions (an individual could receive a reckless driving charge for going 65mph on a 75mph road if conditions such as ice or rain made doing so dangerous);
- Operating a vehicle the driver knows is unsafe in some way (possesses faulty brakes or broken lights, for example);
- Illegally passing another car in a dangerous manner, such as passing while going up a hill or around a curve on a two-lane road;
- Driving a vehicle that is "overloaded" (i.e., is carrying too much weight or objects), or one that obstructs the road for other travelers;
- Engaging in other acts that could endanger drivers, such as failing to stop for stop signs, refusing to utilize turn signals, etc.
What Are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?
If you a court convicts you of reckless driving, you can expect:
- A fine of up to $2,500;
- Six demerit points on your driver's license (after reaching 12 points in a year or 18 points in two years, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will issue a license suspension to the driver, who must then attend a Driving Improvement Clinic to receive their license again);
- A jail sentence of up to a year;
- Up to a six-month license suspension;
- A criminal record.
Reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor, meaning that individuals convicted of reckless driving can potentially receive an expungement to remove the charge from their record.
How the court rules in reckless driving cases largely depends on the circumstances of the case. Factors such as whether the accused has a record of previous reckless driving charges or other offenses like DWI could change the severity of the penalties.
What's a Wet Reckless?
Many people associate reckless driving charges with wet reckless charges. Wet reckless charges are usually reserved for reckless driving charges that also involve alcohol.
If a DUI charge also involves alcohol in Virginia, the judge can require the offender to complete the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (VASAP) and convict them of a wet reckless. In doing so, the court usually reduces the severity of other DUI-related charges.
Entering a plea for a wet reckless outcome can help an individual charged with a DUI obtain a less severe (and stigmatizing) outcome in their case.
At The Law Offices of Daniel J. Miller, we help clients navigate complex family and criminal law disputes.To schedule a consultation with our team, contact us online or via phone at (757) 517-2942.