Karin Riley Porter on Reckless Driving Penalties

Reckless Driving

What does it mean to be charged with reckless driving in Virginia?

Karin Riley Porter: There are many ways in which somebody could be charged with the crime of reckless driving because there are many separate statutes that constitute a general charge of reckless driving. For instance, you could be charged with reckless driving by speed; there are two types of that. You could be accused of driving 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit or driving over 80 miles per hour anywhere in Virginia. Those could both be considered reckless driving. Other types of reckless driving offenses are failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, passing a stopped school bus, passing a vehicle on a bend in the road, driving with faulty brakes, and drag racing. Those are all separate types of offenses that constitute reckless driving in Virginia.

What are the penalties associated with a reckless driving conviction in Virginia?

Karin Riley Porter: As far as the what court could do to an individual who is charged with reckless driving, the maximum penalty is up to 12 months in jail and/or a fine of $2,500. The court also has the authority to suspend somebody’s privilege to drive in the Commonwealth of Virginia for up to six months. Additionally, if you are licensed in Virginia, then you are subject to administrative penalties from the Department of Motor Vehicles. What would be relevant to a driver is how many demerit points are associated with a traffic offense. For reckless driving it’s six demerit points. The DMV can suspend somebody’s privilege to drive based on an accrual of demerit points.

What are the long-term ramifications of a reckless driving conviction?

Karin Riley Porter: Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. It will stay on your criminal history for your entire life and, if you are a Virginia driver, it will appear on your DMV record for 11 years. The conviction sticks for 11 years but the demerit points won’t last for 11 years. Under the administrative rules with DMV, they last for two years. Depending on what somebody’s career field is, for example, if they drive a school bus or a truck for a living, a reckless driving conviction is going to carry serious implications for their career. Someone might also have a security clearance or a job for which it is very important to have a clean criminal history. A conviction for reckless driving could cause them some problems.

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