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Reckless Driving and Out-of-State Drivers

It is hard enough for a Virginia resident to be charged with reckless driving. However, it is even harder when an out-of-state driver faces reckless driving charges. Oftentimes, they are unaware of how severe a reckless driving charge is taken in Virginia. When a Virginia resident is charged with reckless driving, they need an experienced local Virginia reckless driving lawyer to help them understand the charges, consequences, and defense strategies.

Impact of Virginia Reckless Driving Charges on Out-of-State Drivers

If you are an out-of-state driver who is convicted of reckless driving in Virginia and you are from a state that is part of the Interstate Compact on Driver’s Licenses, which 46 of the states are, Virginia would communicate with the state where you are licensed and tell your home state electronically that you were convicted of reckless driving in Virginia. You would have to look at the law in your home state to determine what, if any, effect it is going to have on your driver’s license.

If you are a Virginia driver and you receive a conviction for a moving violation from another state, Virginia will assess demerit points for that conviction, but that is not true in every state. The idea is that the home state where the driver got their license dictates essentially what will happen if they are convicted of reckless driving in Virginia.

Virginia Courts

An out-of-state driver accused of reckless driving does have to come to the jurisdiction where the charge originated. They have to answer to the charge in person. That actually happens quite often, especially in this area where there is a lot of interstate travel on Interstate 95 and people passing through the state do not realize that the speed limit has changed from 75 to 55, so they get pulled over and they are charged with reckless driving. They may have no ties to Virginia whatsoever, but they will be charged with reckless driving and are required to come back to Virginia to answer the charge. If they do not, then it is possible that the court will issue a bench warrant for their failure to appear.

Inability to Attend a Court Date

Many out-of-state clients are unable to attend a court date. It is important to have an attorney because if the home state, meaning the state in which the person is licensed, is part of the interstate compact on driver licenses, which all but four states are, then the reckless driving conviction in Virginia will be communicated to their home state, and the home state could either asses demerit points to their record, or could suspend their driver’s license. Also, if they do not show up to court and blow it off because they cannot prepay, for example, a bench warrant for their arrest could be issued. Generally, that does not happen and they would just be tried in their absence, but the court could impose a $2,500 dollar fine.

If they do not pay the fine and they have an outstanding fine in Virginia, their privilege to drive in Virginia will be suspended, even if they are not licensed there. Their home state will find out about it, which can cause problems down the road when they try to renew their license or if they go to another state and try to get a license. It can have a snowball effect. It is important to hire an attorney if you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia even if you are out-of-state because there are a lot of unknown consequences that could affect you.

Importance for Out-of-State Drivers to Hire Local Lawyers

An out-of-state driver should hire a local lawyer because they do not know if it will affect your license. It will go on your criminal record, so if you have a security clearance or you are in the military if can cause a problem. It will ultimately depend on each person’s specific situation. A lawyer can assist you in obtaining a better result than what you are charged with, so it is worth the time, effort, and expense to retain a lawyer who knows what they are doing, rather than go into court and try to represent yourself when you do not understand what you are getting yourself into and you do not know what the judge will do.

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