When you get a traffic ticket for something such as failing to stop at a stop sign or simple speeding, there are high chances that you will just pay for that ticket and proceed with your journey. Maybe you might accrue a few negative points against your driver’s license. However, as long as you are careful, you will forget about the incident within a few days and move on with your life. A reckless driving charge, on the other hand, is not a simple traffic infraction. It can have far-reaching and serious consequences on your life if you happen to be convicted. Virginia is renowned for its strict application of traffic rules.
Most residents and non-residents driving through the roadways in the state are surprised to learn they are facing a criminal charge for a traffic offense. Reckless driving is in the category of misdemeanor offenses in Virginia. Conviction comes with the potential of spending time in jail for at least one year, loss of driving privileges, as well as costly fines. If you have been charged with reckless driving in Virginia, you will need legal representation from experienced Greensville County VA reckless driving lawyers. With competent legal representation from criminal defense attorneys from Joyner PLLC law firm, you give yourself a greater chance of avoiding the serious ramifications of this charge.
Reckless Driving in Greensville County
Most people tend to confuse speeding tickets and reckless driving. They assume that since they are both traffic offenses, then they will end up with a simple ticket. However, the main difference between the two is that reckless driving is treated as a criminal offense in Virginia. Therefore, you will have to appear in court and answer the charges. A speeding ticket, on the other hand, is a traffic infraction. In most circumstances, you will end up with a fine that doesn’t exceed $250. Since reckless driving is treated as a criminal offense, a conviction results in a permanent criminal record. In the Commonwealth of Virginia, reckless driving is driving in any manner that endangers life, limb or property. Reckless driving is a collection of offenses that include.
Reckless Driving By Speed
In Greensville County, Virginia, you can face reckless driving charges for driving at a certain speed above the allowed speed limit. For example, if you were driving at 20 mph over the posted limit, then you can be charged with reckless driving. Furthermore, driving at 80 mph regardless of the posted limit automatically qualifies as reckless driving by speed. However, you need to note that it is common for traffic officers to charge drivers under special circumstances. For example, if the posted speed limit on a highway is 80 mph and you were driving at 85 mph, then you can be charged with reckless driving by speed. You can also be charged with reckless driving by speed even without exceeding the posted speed limit if the officers think the road conditions were unsafe for that speed. You cannot pre-pay a reckless driving ticket. You will be required to appear in court or have a lawyer represent you. A warrant for arrest can be issued against you if you fail to appear in court. Therefore, the sooner you start fighting these charges, the better.
General Reckless Driving
In Virginia, there are 14 different types of reckless driving, and general reckless driving is one of them. General reckless driving is driving your vehicle in a way that endangers life, property, or limb of another person, regardless of the allowed speed limit. Reckless driving is driving in total disregard of your acts or the consequences that may arise because of your recklessness. Most drivers charged with general reckless driving are usually charged after being involved in an accident. The officer at the scene of the accident will then deem you responsible. As much as reckless driving is treated as a misdemeanor offense, various legal consequences can arise after an accident. For example, if the accident led to the death of another road user, then the reckless driving charges can escalate to a felony. Felony charges are more severe than misdemeanor offenses. They carry heavier penalties as well as spending up a considerable amount of time in jail.
Reckless Driving by Faulty Brakes
You can also be charged with reckless driving for operating a motor vehicle with faulty brakes. Not having your vehicle under proper control is also charged in this category. Faulty brakes mean that the brakes were improperly adjusted or faulty on the highway. In short, your vehicle was not sufficiently equipped with brakes to stop at the appropriate time and manner. You can also face these charges for driving a vehicle that has not passed Virginia safety inspection. When you don’t have your vehicle inspected, and you are then involved in an accident, then you may receive this charge. To be charged with reckless driving by faulty brakes, the arresting officer must prove beyond reasonable doubt that you were driving a vehicle, not in control. With the help of a seasoned criminal lawyer, you can present a strong counter argument and protect yourself from a potential conviction.
Other Types of Reckless Driving
As highlighted earlier, 14 different offenses fall under reckless driving in Virginia. Apart from excessive speed and faulty brakes, you can also be charged with reckless driving for passing when your view is obstructed, driving an overloaded car, passing two cars abreast. Others include two vehicles in one lane, passing a stopped school bus, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, passing at an intersection, failing to give proper signals, driving too fast for conditions, and drag racing. If you have been charged with any of these offenses, then you should consult Greensville County VA reckless driving lawyers as soon as possible. Once you schedule a free consultation, the criminal defense attorneys will advise you on the way forward.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is considered as a Class 1 misdemeanor offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. It, therefore, carries the same penalties as DUI and assault, among others. However, it can also be charged as a Class 6 felony, under certain circumstances. Whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony, a conviction comes with a significant fine, a jail sentence or a revocation or suspension of your driving privileges.
When charged as a Class 1 misdemeanor, a reckless driving conviction comes with a jail term of at least 12 months. There are high chances that if you are a first offender, then you may get away with a shorter sentence. However, if you have a bad driving history or you have had prior reckless driving convictions, then a jail sentence is highly likely. On the other hand, if your reckless driving resulted in the death of another person, then you might face a Class 6 felony charge. Class 6 felonies carry a prison sentence of at least five years. Some judges also have an informal policy where they give you a jail sentence of one day for every mph over 90 mph that you exceeded. In short, if you were driving at 100 mph, then you can expect a jail sentence of at least 10 days upon conviction.
Whether you have been charged with a Class 6 felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, the maximum fine under Virginia laws is usually $2,500. It is at the discretion of the judge to determine the fine. Some judges may not fine you at all. However, every case is unique, and you should not assume that just because your friend was not fined, then you will also end up with a zero fine.
A reckless driving conviction also comes with a license suspension. Depending on the nature of the offense that you committed, as well as your driving history, the judge can suspend your license for a period of between 10 days to 6 months. To have your license reinstated, then you will have to comply certain conditions set by the judge. You will also have to prove that your car has insurance and pay a reinstatement fee to the DMV. If you are a commercial driver, then you may be headed for more trouble. If your regular driving license has been suspended, then you will not be able to use your CDL in Virginia. Those who depend on a CDL to earn a livelihood may lose their jobs when convicted.
Other Consequences of Reckless Driving
Apart from the legal penalties, a reckless driving conviction in Virginia can have serious implications in your life. First, there is the increase in insurance premiums. Every insurance provider uses certain criteria for setting their car insurance rates. However, there are high chances that your insurance provider may increase your rates after a conviction. Your insurance provider will consider you a high risk, and they will, therefore, increase the rates to take care of similar incidents. Others will simply cancel your policy.
Secondly, a conviction or a guilty plea for reckless driving charges comes with a permanent criminal record. Such a record will always show up during background checks. It may, therefore, prove to be an obstacle when seeking opportunities in education, housing, and employment. When applying for a security clearance, you will be required to disclose your reckless driving conviction. That criminal background may affect your chances of getting that clearance. Also, a reckless driving conviction or guilty plea may result in civil liability. The person who was injured or whose property was damaged during the incident may sue for damages in a civil court.
Why Joyner PLLC Law Firm
A reckless driving charge is not like a simple traffic ticket, which you can pre-pay and forget it ever happened. Instead, reckless driving is a criminal charge that comes with lasting repercussions if you are unfortunate to be convicted. You will have to appear in court to face the charges or hire a criminal defense attorney to represent you. Experienced Greensville County VA reckless driving lawyers at Joyner PLLC law firm can help you to obtain a favorable outcome. We have the experience of handling similar cases before.
Although every case has its unique facts and circumstances, we understand the process, and we are in the best position to protect your interests. We are among the best criminal defense lawyers in the Commonwealth of Virginia, and the quality of our defense will reflect that aspect. If you are an out-of-state driver, then we also have you covered. When it comes to reckless driving cases and other criminal offenses, it is always a smart move to work with a local attorney. A local criminal defense attorney understands the practices in the court where the case will be heard.
At Joyner PLLC law firm, we have a dedicated team of attorneys, who represent clients in different courts. Knowing your way around the local courts comes with various benefits. We understand that you might be feeling uncomfortable in this unfamiliar environment. However, when you retain one of our reckless driving attorneys, you are assured that you are getting a lawyer who has walked this road before and therefore knows the best route to follow.
Our lawyers will give you the peace of mind that you deserve while increasing your chances of getting a favorable outcome. You will have the advantage of having a top-notch lawyer by your side throughout the process. Many people in Greensville County facing reckless driving charges assume they can handle the case without hiring an attorney. If you are in such a situation, don’t make that mistake. You might end up spending time in jail, which will affect your career and personal life. Once you have been charged with reckless driving, give us a calll straight away. The sooner you consult, the more time we will have to prepare an aggressive defense for your case.
Contact Us Today
If you want to minimize or avoid the damaging consequences of a reckless driving conviction in Greensville County, Virginia, then you should talk to experienced reckless driving lawyers. We are skilled criminal defense lawyers, who can help you with the complex legal process. We will use our skills, resources, and experience to ensure you get a positive outcome in your case. Contact our law firm today and schedule a free consultation.