Speeding tickets in Virginia can be rather mundane unless you go too fast. Then you could be hit with a ticket for reckless driving. This is different than a standard speeding ticket, and it is far worse than a mere speeding ticket. What exactly is reckless driving in Virginia, and how does it differ from a speeding ticket?
Reckless driving is a charge you can receive for driving twenty miles or more over the speed limit. This is a criminal offense in Virginia. It isn’t just a speeding ticket; it is a misdemeanor. It will hit your driving record as hard as if you had a DUI. You can be arrested for it, too. In fact, it becomes another offense on your record. For example, if you’re speeding at 80 while the speed limit is 60 while drunk, you could be charged with both DUI and reckless driving.
One reason why people get confused about reckless driving tickets is that they may not realize they received one until they get home. Police officers may pull the person over, say they were getting a speeding ticket, and give them a ticket with RD on it. If the person thinks they were only 15 over the speed limit, they don’t protest. Yet the RD or reckless driving note on the ticket results in a greater fine, more points on their license and a minor criminal record. If you notice the RD on the ticket, you can protest, then that you weren’t really going that fast. Once you sign the ticket, you’re pretty much stuck with the consequences. That can include suspending your driver’s license. The fact that counties may just let you pay the ticket, too, so people don’t realize the severity of the charge beyond the higher price tag.
Yet you want to fight these tickets with help from of an attorney from Leavitt & Martin, PLLC, because any other strikes against your record will result in other, costly consequences. For example, a speeding ticket will increase your insurance rates. A reckless driving charge will cause your insurance rates to skyrocket. Get hit with an RD ticket and run a red light a few weeks later, and your auto insurer could drop you. You need legal help to fight a mistaken or inflated charge of reckless driving, if only to ensure you can continue driving.
Making matters worse for your driving record is that the misdemeanor criminal record never goes away. Speeding tickets can be expunged from your record after a few years, but auto insurers and background checks for jobs that involve driving will see that reckless driving charge twenty years later.
One solution is to never go over 80 miles an hour, since the most common cause of RD tickets is going more than 80 miles an hour on highways rated for 55 or 60 miles per hour. However, that’s not enough. For example, you can get a reckless driving ticket for going 45 on a side street with a speed limit of 25. Making matters worse are school zones, since the speed limit will drop 15 to 20 miles per hour when the school zone is in effect. The only solution here is to pay attention to the speed limits and when the allowable speed drops. This will protect you, too, when the cops don’t know the speed limit. There are people who’ve received RD tickets for going 80 in a 65 zone, but the cops though the speed limit was 55.
The only certain safe choice is being a safe driver, especially if you’re passing through Virginia or live in the state. After all, you can get a ticket for failure to maintain control of your vehicle if you’re going a little fast and go outside of your lane on a tight curve regardless of the speed limit.
Virginia is unusual for issuing a misdemeanor for “reckless driving” when someone has been driving 20 miles an hour over the speed limit in effect at the time. This multiplies the penalties drivers face for these acts, whether it is the criminal record that will always show up in background checks to a permanent black mark on their driving record with insurers.