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What is Considered Reckless Driving in Virginia?

A reckless driving charge in Virginia is a Class 1 misdemeanor. That means that it is more than just a simple traffic ticket—it is a real criminal charge. It can also come with real criminal penalties. To avoid the consequences of this charge, it is helpful to know exactly which actions will lead to a reckless driving charge in Virginia. A traffic and criminal defense attorney in Fairfax, VA can also be a great help if you have been charged with reckless driving.

Reckless Driving in Virginia

Virginia is well-known for its tough traffic laws, and the reckless driving charge is usually the reason. The most common way to get a reckless driving charge is to travel over 80 mph anywhere throughout the state. Many of Virginia's highways and interstates now have speed limits set at 70 mph, so traveling at 81 mph is surprisingly easy to do.

There are also numerous other ways that are not as common to receive a reckless driving charge. These include:

  • Racing
  • Passing or overtaking an emergency vehicle or school bus
  • Passing on the crest of a hill
  • Passing at a railroad crossing
  • Passing two vehicles abreast in a single lane
  • Driving two vehicles abreast (this may not include motorcycles)
  • Driving too fast for the road or weather conditions
  • Failing to give proper signal
  • Improper control or faulty brakes
  • Driving with an obstructed view
  • Reckless driving in parking lots or similar locations
  • Driving 20 mph above the posted speed limit in any area

Officers can also issue a citation and charge for reckless driving in general. That leaves this charge open to interpretation by the officer who stopped you. If he or she thought you were driving in a way that was dangerous to yourself, others, or property around you, then he or she could arbitrarily issue you a citation for reckless driving. That includes situations that fall outside of the aforementioned list.

Legal Penalties for the Reckless Driving Charge

The judge that handles your reckless driving charge will determine what type of punishment you should receive in your individual case. It can vary significantly. It will be affected by factors such as:

  • The individual facts of the situation
  • Your prior driving record
  • Which judge hears your case
  • Whether you have any prior criminal convictions or charges

It may be hard to believe, but you can actually be sent to jail for a reckless driving charge in Virginia. Although it does not have happen often, drivers can actually be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail. Jail time is often only imposed for very serious offenses.

You can receive more than one punishment as well. These punishments generally include fines, jail time, and license suspensions.


Fines are perhaps the most common consequence of a reckless driving charge, particularly for those who have never been charged with reckless driving before. The fine can be up to $2,500, but this is rare. Those accused will also be responsible for paying court costs as well, which are usually around $80.

Jail Time

It may be hard to believe, but you can actually be sent to jail for a reckless driving charge in Virginia. Although it does not have happen often, drivers can actually be sentenced to up to 12 months in jail. Jail time is often only imposed for very serious offenses.

License Suspension

While it is possible to have your license suspended after a reckless driving charge, it is actually rare for the average reckless driving offense. Your license could be suspended for up to 6 months, however.

Other Consequences of a Reckless Driving Charge in Virginia

There are long-term consequences that could occur outside of the justice system as well, including:

Increased Insurance Premiums

Whenever you get a traffic ticket or charge like reckless driving, it can affect your vehicle's insurance. Talk to your insurance representative for more information.

Loss of Your Job

For some, have a suspended license can affect their ability to get to work, causing friction with your employer. In other cases, employers can actually let you go if you have a reckless driving charge, particularly if driving is a vital part of your employment.

Demerit Points on Your License

You can receive up to 6 demerit points for a reckless driving charge, and these usually stay on your record for 11 years. If you accumulate these points too quickly, then the state can send you to a driver improvement clinic or suspend your license.

Security Clearance Problems

This may be particularly important for some who live and work in and around Washington, D.C. and are required to maintain a clean criminal record as part of their employment.

Contact The Law Office of Wilfred W. Yeargan Today

These consequences are often overlooked, but they can significantly affect your life and wellbeing. Because reckless driving charges in Virginia are a criminal offense, you need a local, Fairfax VA traffic defense lawyer to defend your reckless driving charges. Call or contact us online to discuss your case or schedule a free in-person consultation. You do not have to face this unfamiliar charge alone.

Areas We Serve

We serve clients throughout Virginia including those in the following localities: Fairfax; Fairfax County including Annandale, Burke, Centreville, Herndon, and Vienna; Alexandria; Arlington County including Arlington; Falls Church; Fauquier County including Warrenton; Frederick County including Winchester; Fredericksburg; Loudoun County including Leesburg; Prince William County including Manassas; Spotsylvania County including Lake Wilderness and Spotsylvania Courthouse; Stafford County including Stafford; and Warren County including Front Royal.