Reckless Driving by Speed

In Virginia, driving 20 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit is a crime, chargeable as Reckless Driving.  Reckless Driving by Speed charged under Va. Code §46.2-862 is not a traffic infraction; rather, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to 12 months in jail, up to $2500 in fines, and a suspension of your driver’s license for up to 6 months.  Further, getting convicted will give you a permanent criminal record.

What’s the difference between Reckless Driving (general) and Reckless Driving by Speed?

Virginia Code §46.2-862 reads:

A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.

Reckless Driving (general) in violation of Va. Code §46.2-852 requires the Commonwealth to prove a person was driving in a reckless manner that endangers life, limb, or property.  In contrast, all that is required for an individual to be charged with Reckless Driving by Speed is a detected driving speed in excess of 20 mph or more of the posted speed limit, or a detected driving speed of more than 80 miles per hour, regardless of the speed limit. No driving conduct beyond speed needs to be proven.

Isn’t it just a simple speeding ticket?

If you are charged with an infraction of speeding you have the option of prepaying a fine.  If you are charged with Reckless Driving by Speed, a court appearance is mandatory. Failure to attend your court date could result in an additional criminal charge. The potential penalties are also drastically different: a speeding infraction maximum fine is $250 with no possibility of jail or license suspension (unless you are a rapid point accumulator through the DMV), and no permanent driving record.

How does the prosecutor prove reckless driving by speed?

To convict a person of reckless driving by speed in Virginia, the prosecutor must prove the person exceeded the speed limit by more than 20 miles per hour or drove more than 80 miles per hour on a highway in the Commonwealth.

The Commonwealth must prove that the offender was driving the motor vehicle to convict him of reckless driving in Virginia. This is usually proven through testimony of the officer who initially stopped the driver.

Motor vehicle is defined in Va. Code §46.2-100 as:

every vehicle as defined in this section that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion except as otherwise provided in this title.  Any structure designed, used, or maintained primarily to be loaded on or affixed to a motor vehicle to provide a mobile dwelling, sleeping place, office, or commercial space shall be considered a part of a motor vehicle. Except as otherwise provided, for the purposes of this title, any device herein defined as a bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, or moped shall be deemed not to be a motor vehicle.

Highway is defined in Va. Code §46.2-100 as:

the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel in the Commonwealth, including the streets and alleys, and, for law-enforcement purposes, (i) the entire width between the boundary lines of all private roads or private streets that have been specifically designated “highways” by an ordinance adopted by the governing body of the county, city, or town in which such private roads or streets are located and (ii) the entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place used for purposes of vehicular travel on any property owned, leased, or controlled by the United States government and located in the Commonwealth.

Police officers use a variety of methods to measure vehicle speed.  These include RADAR, LiDAR, and pacing.  To adequately prove to the judge that you were speeding, police officers must verify their equipment was working properly and that their equipment was properly calibrated. Our attorneys can evaluate whether the police complied with the proper procedures and requirements.

After making a showing they used proper procedures to measure speed, the Commonwealth must prove the person was driving 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit (or more than 80 miles per hour).

To prove a driver’s speed was more than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit, the Commonwealth must prove what the posted speed limit was.

Penalties

In Virginia, Reckless Driving by Speed is a Class 1 misdemeanor punishable by the following:

Jail: A conviction for Reckless Driving in Virginia under Va. Code §46.2-852 is punishable with up to 12 months in jail.

Fines and Costs: A driver can be fined up to $2500 if convicted of a Virginia Reckless Driving charge under Va. Code §46.2-852.  The driver will also be required to pay court costs (varies by jurisdiction).

Driver’s License Suspension: A driver’s license can be suspended for up to 6 months if he is convicted of Reckless Driving.  The driver may apply for a restricted driver’s license, allowing him to drive for restricted purposes (to and from work, to and from school, to the doctor, to church).  Driving in violation of these restrictions can result in a driving on suspended license charge under Va. Code §46.2-301 (Va. Code §46.2-393(B)).  A Commercial Driver’s License (or CDL) holder, however, cannot apply for a restricted license if his license is suspended for a Virginia reckless driving conviction.

DMV Demerit Points: The DMV will add 6 demerit points to the driving record of anyone convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia.

VASAP Referral: If the court believes that the Virginia Reckless Driving charge was alcohol-related, it may order the driver to complete an alcohol education program called the Virginia Alcohol Safety Action Program (Virginia ASAP) (Va. Code §46.2-392).

Other Collateral Consequences

Beyond the immediate penalties associated with a conviction for Reckless Driving, other repercussions are at play.  Insurance premiums are likely to increase if convicted.  Your education or employment opportunities may be hindered: if you are subject to a background check for employment, security clearance, or immigration, a Reckless Driving conviction could affect your future.

If you find yourself charged with reckless driving in Virginia, contact  one of our experienced Virginia Reckless Driving attorneys. An initial consultation with a TATE BYWATER attorney is complimentary.  We’ll discuss your case and work with you to obtain the best possible outcome.  We’re here to help!