Reckless driving is a common charge faced by many Virginia drivers, but it should not be underestimated as a minor traffic offense. To the contrary, reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500.00 fine. Reckless driving also carries the potential for a license suspension of up to 180 days. In addition to the serious criminal penalties, a reckless driving charge may also indirectly threaten your way of life, career, security clearance, or affordable insurance premiums.
Needless to say, being charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor is a highly stressful event. Given the high stakes, it is recommended that you retain a skilled attorney to defend your case.
Reckless driving, generally, occurs when any person drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb or property of any person. There are, however, various other forms of reckless driving noted under the laws of the Commonwealth of Virginia, including, but not limited to, excessive speed, improper passing, improper control, passing when view obstructed, passing at an intersection or railroad crossing, failing to give proper signals and driving too fast for traffic conditions.
The maximum penalty for the first offense of driving on a suspended license is a jail sentence of 6 months, a $1,000.00 fine, and a license suspension for the same period for which it had previously been suspended (or up to 90 days if the suspension was indefinite).
The actual license suspension may result from an administrative suspension by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) or by failure to pay court fines from a traffic ticket. While the reason for the original suspension will not be considered in determining guilt or innocence, the court in all likelihood will distinguish between the repeat driving offender suspended for exceeding DMV demerit point limits and the driver who uncharacteristically neglected to pay a traffic fine resulting in a suspension.
Aggressive driving is a class 2 misdemeanor unless the Commonwealth can demonstrate that the driver intended to injure the person in which case the penalty is enhanced to a class 1 misdemeanor. In addition, the court may also suspend a driver’s license for a period of not less than 10 days or more than 6 months and may order the driver to attend an aggressive driving program. With respect to the suspension the court does have the discretion to issue a restricted driver’s license unless the driver has a commercial driver’s license.
A person may be guilty of aggressive driving if, with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another, they (1) drive on the wrong side of the road, (2) fail to observe the traffic lanes, (3) follow too closely, (4) fail to stop or yield right of way when entering a highway, (5) pass on the right, or (6) stop on a highway.
In Virginia, a first offense DUI/DWI is a class 1 misdemeanor punishable by up to one year in jail, fines up to $2,500.00 and/or license suspension. New legislative changes require a mandatory minimum jail time of five (5) days for first time offenders with a blood alcohol content (BAC) exceeding .15g/210ml and ten (10) days for a BAC exceeding .20g/210ml.
DUI/DWI charges threaten your driving and personal freedom, loss of insurance or dramatic increases in premiums, jobs or careers, and reputation. As a result, it is critical that you find a skilled attorney to defend your case.