Reckless driving is not the same as a speeding ticket. Virginia takes the offense seriously, and the potential consequences are great. Drivers that operate a vehicle in a reckless manner or at a dangerous speed have the potential to receive a reckless driving ticket. If you receive a reckless driving ticket, it is important not to fall for these commonly believed myths.
Myth 1. Reckless Driving Is Not a Big Deal
The biggest mistake Virginia drivers make is thinking that a reckless driving charge is not a big deal. Virginia has high reckless driving rates nationwide. For every 10,000 drivers on the road, there are 68.6 reckless drivers. That is 279% above the national average. In 2019, there were over 24,000 reported speed-related crashes in Virginia. These incidents resulted in more than 13,000 injuries and 349 fatalities. Reckless driving endangers yourself, your passengers, other drivers, and pedestrians.
Myth 2. Just Pay the Fine
You cannot prepay a reckless driving ticket. Unlike other driving infractions, there is no set penalty for reckless driving. You cannot pre-pay the fine and avoid a court appearance in the state of Virginia. The judge will hear the facts surrounding your reckless driving ticket and determine an appropriate penalty and fine. This fine could be minimal. It could also be up to $2,500.
Myth 3. You Can Skip Court
Never fail to appear for a court date that you are summoned to. If the court requires your presence, there is a reason, and you need to be there. If you hire legal representation, then sometimes your attorney can appear on your behalf. In which case, your attorney will inform you that you do not need to attend.
Failure to appear is viewed harshly in the eyes of the court. As a result, the court is more likely to assess a harsher punishment. In some cases, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest and could result in a jail sentence of as much as 10 days. This can make your situation more serious and complicated.
Myth 4. Just Ask For Reduced Charges
It is a common misconception that you can appear before the judge, explain your version of events, and get the charges reduced. This is not the case. Virginia judges take their role in the justice system seriously. They have the discretion to decide which cases should be reduced or dismissed. However, they are under no obligation to do either. Simply showing up and asking may not get the results you are hoping for. Having a lawyer represent you can help you face your reckless driving charge. Your lawyer will have more experience in traffic court and interacting with the judge that will hear your case. They know what the judge will want presented and come prepared with mitigation to help your case. They can provide you with guidance and advice on all of your options and how to handle your case best.
Myth 5. It Is Not a Crime
The police officer probably handed you a piece of paper that looks like a regular ticket. He did not handcuff you or have you booked. This can lead people to think that they did not commit a crime and that this is a ticket like any other. This is not the case, and the penalties drivers face are much more serious. Reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor in the state of Virginia. If you are convicted during your mandatory court hearing, you could face several penalties.
- Up to a $2,500 fine;
- Up to one-year jail sentence;
- Up to six months of suspended driving privileges; and
- Six points on your Virginia driving record.
In some counties, it is common practice for judges to give jail sentences and/or license suspensions for anyone driving over 90 miles per hour. Lawyers will often times be able to avoid these sentences by providing mitigating evidence to the judge. An attorney will be familiar with the common local practices and help you prepare for court in a way that will be most effective with the judge.