Is Reckless Driving a Criminal Offense in Virginia?


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Reckless driving is a major traffic violation in Virginia. It's a very punishable criminal case.

Reckless Driving in Virginia

Reckless driving is considered as a major traffic violation in Virginia due to its nature of causing potential harm. Reckless driving is deemed as a careless act of a driver which can cause potential injuries to any human being, damage any public or private property or it can even result in the death of an innocent. Considering the aftereffects of reckless
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driving, the legislators have constituted strict penalties against any reckless driving charges.

How reckless driving is a criminal offense

1. The types of criminal offenses in Virginia

a. Traffic Violation
i. General traffic violations such as speeding in Virginia is included in traffic violation.

b. Class 1 Misdemeanor
i. In Virginia, reckless driving is known as a Class 1 misdemeanor, meaning it is a serious criminal offense. If a person is charged with reckless driving class one misdemeanor he is subjected to heavy fines along with jail time. However, the penalties depend on multiple factors and damages caused by the offense.

c. Felony
In Virginia, felony charges are very rarely given for reckless driving. They are only applied in serious and sensitive circumstances. According to section 46.2-865.1:

1. “Any person who, while engaging in a race in violation of § 46.2-865 in a manner so gross, wanton and culpable as to show a reckless disregard for human life:

a. Causes serious bodily injury to another person who is not involved in the violation of § 46.2-865 is guilty of a Class 6 felony; or

b. Causes the death of another person, is guilty of a felony punishable by a term of imprisonment of not less than one nor more than 20 years, shall one year of which be a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment

2. Upon conviction, the court shall suspend the driver's license of such person for a period of not less than one year nor more than three years, and shall order the surrender of the license to be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of § 46.2-398.”

Potential Penalties for Reckless Driving in Virginia

1. Fines: A reckless driving ticket in Virginia can be penalized by court up to $2500 excluding the court’s fee.

2. Demerit points: For reckless driving ticket maximum 6 demerit points are allotted to the licensee.

3. Suspension of driving license: The license of the reckless driver can be suspended for a maximum period of 6 months.

4. Imprisonment: Reckless driving ticket can even lead you to imprisonment. A reckless driving offender can cause a maximum of 6 months of jail time.

5. Loss of job: If you are charged with imprisonment there are chances that you might lose your job due to the jail time.

6. Hiked insurance premium: The car insurance companies maintain all the records of their customers. So if demerit points are awarded against your driving license you will be facing hike in insurance premiums.

7. Criminal offense record: Having a record of a criminal offense is a huge deal. Nobody would want to get a criminal offense label for reckless driving.

8. Dependency on public transport: If your license is suspended for reckless driving charges you will be facing a lot of difficulty in your daily life.

ABOUT THE AUTHOR: Atchuthan Sriskandarajah
Mr. Sris has defended numerous clients charged with this offense. He is a former prosecutor and has over 20 years of experience.

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Disclaimer: While every effort has been made to ensure the accuracy of this publication, it is not intended to provide legal advice as individual situations will differ and should be discussed with an expert and/or lawyer. For specific technical or legal advice on the information provided and related topics, please contact the author.

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