Reckless Driving

What is the criminal law in Virginia for Reckless Driving by Speed?

§ 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit.

A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.

§ 46.2-868. Reckless driving; penalties.

A. Every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article is guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.

B. Every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article who, when he committed the offense, (i) was driving without a valid operator’s license due to a suspension or revocation for a moving violation and, (ii) as the sole and proximate result of his reckless driving, caused the death of another, is guilty of a Class 6 felony.

C. The punishment for every person convicted of reckless driving under the provisions of this article who, when he committed the offense, was in violation of §46.2-1078.1 shall include a mandatory minimum fine of $250.

§ 46.2-392. Suspension of license or issuance of a restricted license on conviction of reckless or aggressive driving; probationary conditions required; generally.

In addition to the penalties for reckless driving prescribed in §46.2-868 and the penalties for aggressive driving prescribed in §46.2-868.1, the court may suspend the driver’s license issued to a person convicted of reckless driving or aggressive driving for a period of not less than 10 days nor more than six months and the court shall require the convicted person to surrender his license so suspended to the court where it will be disposed of in accordance with §46.2-398.

Additionally, any person convicted of a reckless driving offense which the court has reason to believe is alcohol-related or drug-related may be required as a condition of probation or otherwise to enter into and successfully complete an alcohol safety action program. If the court suspends a person’s driver’s license for reckless driving and requires the person to enter into and successfully complete an alcohol safety action program, the Commissioner shall not reinstate the driver’s license of the person until receipt of certification that the person has enrolled in an alcohol safety action program.

If a person so convicted has not obtained the license required by this chapter, or is a nonresident, the court may direct in the judgment of conviction that he shall not, for a period of not less than 10 days or more than six months as may be prescribed in the judgment, drive any motor vehicle in the Commonwealth. The court or the clerk of court shall transmit the license to the Commissioner along with the report of the conviction required to be sent to the Department.

The court may, in its discretion and for good cause shown, provide that such person be issued a restricted permit to operate a motor vehicle during the period of suspension for any of the purposes set forth in subsection E of §18.2-271.1. The court shall order the surrender of such person’s license to operate a motor vehicle to be disposed of in accordance with the provisions of §46.2-398 and shall forward to the Commissioner a copy of its order entered pursuant to this subsection, which shall specifically enumerate the restrictions imposed and contain such information regarding the person to whom such a permit is issued as is reasonably necessary to identify such person. The court shall also provide a copy of its order to the person who may operate a motor vehicle on the order until receipt from the Commissioner of a restricted license. A copy of such order and, after receipt thereof, the restricted license shall be carried at all times while operating a motor vehicle. Any person who operates a motor vehicle in violation of any restrictions imposed pursuant to this section shall be punished as provided in subsection C of §46.2-301. No restricted license issued pursuant to this section shall permit any person to operate a commercial motor vehicle as defined in the Virginia Commercial Driver’s License Act (§46.2-341.1 et seq.).

§ 46.2-882. Determining speed with various devices; certificate as to accuracy of device; arrest without warrant.

The speed of any motor vehicle may be determined by the use of (i) a laser speed determination device, (ii) radar, (iii) a microcomputer device that is physically connected to an odometer cable and both measures and records distance traveled and elapsed time to determine the average speed of a motor vehicle, or (iv) a microcomputer device that is located aboard an airplane or helicopter and measures and records distance traveled and elapsed time to determine the average speed of a motor vehicle being operated on highways within the Interstate System of highways as defined in § 33.1-48. The results of such determinations shall be accepted as prima facie evidence of the speed of such motor vehicle in any court or legal proceeding where the speed of the motor vehicle is at issue.

In any court or legal proceeding in which any question arises about the calibration or accuracy of any laser speed determination device, radar, or microcomputer device as described in this section used to determine the speed of any motor vehicle, a certificate, or a true copy thereof, showing the calibration or accuracy of (i) the speedometer of any vehicle, (ii) any tuning fork employed in calibrating or testing the radar or other speed determination device or (iii) any other method employed in calibrating or testing any laser speed determination device, and when and by whom the calibration was made, shall be admissible as evidence of the facts therein stated. No calibration or testing of such device shall be valid for longer than six months.

The driver of any such motor vehicle may be arrested without a warrant under this section if the arresting officer is in uniform and displays his badge of authority and if the officer has observed the registration of the speed of such motor vehicle by the laser speed determination device, radar, or microcomputer device as described in this section, or has received a radio message from the officer who observed the speed of the motor vehicle registered by the laser speed determination device, radar, or microcomputer device as described in this section. However, in case of an arrest based on such a message, such radio message shall have been dispatched immediately after the speed of the motor vehicle was registered and furnished the license number or other positive identification of the vehicle and the registered speed to the arresting officer.

Neither State Police officers nor local law-enforcement officers shall use laser speed determination devices or radar, as described herein in airplanes or helicopters for the purpose of determining the speed of motor vehicles.

State Police officers may use laser speed determination devices, radar, and/or microcomputer devices as described in this section. All localities may use radar and laser speed determination devices to measure speed. The Cities of Alexandria, Fairfax, Falls Church, Manassas, and Manassas Park and the Counties of Arlington, Fairfax, Loudoun, and Prince William and towns within such counties may use microcomputer devices as described in this section.

The Division of Purchases and Supply, pursuant to § 2.2-1112, shall determine the proper equipment used to determine the speed of motor vehicles and shall advise the respective law-enforcement officials of the same. Police chiefs and sheriffs shall ensure that all such equipment and devices purchased on or after July 1, 1986, meet or exceed the standards established by the Division.

What must be proven to convict me of Reckless Driving by Speed?

  • The Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt every element listed below:
    • 1) You drove
    • 2) a motor vehicle
    • 3) on a highway in Virginia
    • 4) at a speed of 20mph or more over the posted speed limit; or
    • 1b) You drove
    • 2b) a motor vehicle
    • 3b) on a highway in Virginia
    • 4b) at a speed of 81mph or more, regardless of the posted speed limit.
  • Additional Notes:
    • “Motor vehicle” is defined in Va. Code §46.2-100 as any vehicle that is self-propelled or designed for self-propulsion. A bicycle, electric personal assistive mobility device, electric power-assisted bicycle, and/or moped is not a motor vehicle.
    • “Highway” is defined in Va. Code §46.2-100 as any road, street, and/or alley that is open to the public for the purpose of vehicular travel.
    • A law enforcement officer can determine your speed by pacing your car or by beaming your car with a radar or laser device.
    • The pace method requires that the law enforcement officer follow your car at a steady speed while maintaining an equal distance for 2/10 of a mile and then look at his or her speedometer to determine your speed.
    • You can be convicted of reckless driving by speed even if you are traveling with the flow of other cars.
    • You can be convicted of reckless driving by speed even if you are driving slower than other cars.

What is the maximum punishment for Reckless Driving by Speed?

  • Reckless Driving by Speed is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is punishable by a maximum jail sentence of 12 months and/or a maximum fine of $2,500.00.
  • Your driver’s license or privilege to drive in Virginia may be suspended for a period of not less than 10 days nor more than six (6) months. If you have a non-Virginia license and the judge suspends your privilege to drive in Virginia, the state that licensed you may receive notice of the suspension and may, in turn, suspend your non-Virginia license.
  • You will receive six (6) demerit points on your Virginia driving record. If you have a non-Virginia license, the state that licensed you may treat the offense as if it happened in its own state and may assess its own demerit points.

Is there a “mandatory minimum” punishment for Reckless Driving by Speed?

  • No.

What are the consequences to a conviction of Reckless Driving by Speed?

  • Permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged.
  • Fine.
  • Court costs.
  • Six (6) demerit point violation on your Virginia driving record. This will appear on your Virginia driving record even if you are not licensed in Virginia. If you have a non-Virginia license, the state that licensed you may treat the offense as if it happened in its own state and may assess its own demerit points.
  • Possible active jail time up to 12 months.
  • Possible license suspension from 10 days up to six (6) months. If you have a non-Virginia license and the judge suspends your privilege to drive in Virginia, the state that licensed you may receive notice of the suspension and may, in turn, suspend your non-Virginia license.
  • Possible increase in your car insurance policy.
  • Possible period of uniform good behavior.
  • Possible community service hours.
  • Possible effect on current and/or prospective commercial driver’s license (CDL).
  • Possible effect on current and/or prospective employment.
  • If you have a government security clearance, possible effect on current and/or prospective government security clearance.
  • If the offense was alcohol or drug related, completion of Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP).
  • If you were 17 years old or younger when you committed the offense and this was your second or subsequent conviction that carries demerit points, the Virginia DMV will suspend your Virginia license for 90 days.
  • If you were 18 years old or older when you committed the offense and this conviction causes you to accumulate 18 demerit points in one (1) year or 24 demerit points in two (2) years, the Virginia DMV will suspend your Virginia license for 90 days.
  • You were 18 years old or older at the time you committed the offense and you were under a six (6) month probationary period with the Virginia DMV at the time you committed the offense, the Virginia DMV will suspend your Virginia license for 90 days.
  • If you were 19 years old or younger when you committed the offense, the Virginia DMV will require you to complete a driver improvement program in order to keep your Virginia license.
  • If you were 18 years old or older when you committed the offense and this conviction causes you to accumulate 12 demerit points in one (1) year or 18 demerit points in two (2) years, the Virginia DMV will require you to complete a driver improvement program in order to keep your Virginia license.

Can I prepay a Reckless Driving by Speed ticket?

  • No. You cannot prepay a Reckless Driving by Speed ticket because it is a criminal offense.

Am I required to appear in court for by Reckless Driving by Speed charge?

  • That depends. Different courts have different policies, but usually:
    • If you do not hire an attorney, you must appear in court for all court hearings even if you are a non-Virginia resident and/or have military obligations.
    • If you hire an attorney and you are a Virginia resident, you must appear in court for all court hearings. However, some jurisdictions will allow you to not appear in court for all court hearings if you have an attorney and the prosecutor and/or law enforcement officer agree to not request active jail time.
    • If you hire an attorney and you are a non-Virginia resident and/or have military obligations and the prosecutor and/or law enforcement officer agree to not request active jail time, you do not have to appear in court for all court hearings.

What are the defenses to Reckless Driving by Speed?

  • Statute of limitations for misdemeanors
    • Pursuant to Va. Code §19.2-8, if you have received a reckless driving by speed charge more than one (1) year after the occurrence of offense, the charge must be dismissed for failure to timely prosecute.
  • Improper venue
    • If the evidence cannot and/or does not prove that the reckless driving by speed occurred in the city or county in which you are charged, the charge must be dismissed.
  • Not a motor vehicle
    • If the evidence proves that you were not driving a motor vehicle as defined by Va. Code §46.2-100, the charge must be dismissed.
  • Not a highway
    • If the evidence proves that you were not driving on a highway as defined by Va. Code §46.2-100, the charge must be dismissed.
  • No proof that the radar or laser device was working accurately
    • If a radar or laser device was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the radar or laser gun was not tested for its accuracy within six (6) months of the offense date as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did not pace your car to determine your speed. This rarely happens.
  • Radar or laser calibration sheet is not the original or true copy
    • If a radar or laser device was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the radar or laser calibration sheet is not the original version or a true copy as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did not pace your car to determine your speed. This rarely happens.
  • Radar or laser calibration sheet does not indicate who did the testing
    • If a radar or laser device was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the radar or laser calibration sheet does not indicate who performed the calibration as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did not pace your car to determine your speed.This rarely happens.
  • Mistake with radar or laser
    • If the evidence proves that the law enforcement officer’s radar or laser device determined the speed of another car and not yours, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did not pace your car to determine your speed. This is difficult to prove.
  • No proof that the law enforcement officer’s speedometer was working accurately
    • If a pace was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the law enforcement officer’s speedometer was not tested for its accuracy within six (6) months of the offense date as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did not use a radar or laser device to determine your speed. This rarely happens.
  • Law enforcement officer’s speedometer calibration sheet is not the original or true copy
    • If a pace was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the law enforcement officer’s speedometer calibration sheet is not the original version or a true copy as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did use a radar or laser device to determine your speed. This rarely happens.
  • Law enforcement officer’s speedometer calibration sheet does not indicate who did the testing
    • If a pace was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the law enforcement officer’s speedometer calibration sheet does not indicate who performed the calibration as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did not use a radar or laser device to determine your speed. This rarely happens.
  • Improper pace method
    • If a pace was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the law enforcement officer did not follow your car at a steady speed while maintaining an equal distance for 2/10 of a mile, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the officer did not use a radar or laser device to determine your speed.
  • Fabrication
    • If the evidence proves that the law enforcement officer is lying about your reckless driving by speed, the charge must be dismissed. This is very difficult to prove.
  • Failure to prosecute on behalf of the officer
    • If the law enforcement officer fails to show up for trial, the charge may be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

If there is no defense to my case, what are ways to avoid a conviction of Reckless Driving by Speed?

  • If the prosecutor and/or law enforcement officer agree to drop the charge and the court accepts the prosecutor and/or law enforcement officer’s decision, the charge will be dismissed. This rarely happens.
  • Depending on your jurisdiction, if the court finds that certain mitigating factors are present in your case, your charge may be dismissed immediately or after your completion of certain terms and conditions.

If there is no defense to my case, what are ways to get my Reckless Driving by Speed reduced to a non-criminal offense?

  • Depending on your jurisdiction, if the court finds that certain mitigating factors are present in your case, your charge may be reduced to a non-criminal offense immediately or after your completion of certain terms and conditions. Depending on your jurisdiction and the specific facts of your case, your reckless driving by speed charge may be reduced to defective equipment, improper driving, speeding 1-9mph over the posted speed limit, speeding 10-19mph over the posted speed limit, or speeding 20mph or more over the posted speed limit. These are all non-criminal offenses that carry no possibility of jail time and no possibility of license suspension by the judge.

If I am convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed, will I receive active jail time?

  • That depends. Different courts have different policies. Usually a judge will make you serve active jail time if one of the bullets below apply to your case:
    • You were driving 30mph or more over the posted speed limit. However, some judges start to impose active jail time at 35mph or more over the posted speed limit.
    • You were driving 100mph or more, regardless of the posted speed limit.
    • You have had several speed-related convictions within the last five (5) years. The definition of “several” depends on your specific judge.
    • You displayed excessive erratic driving behavior. For example, rapidly changing lanes, constantly changing lanes, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating other cars, and/or driving in the emergency lane is erratic driving behavior.
    • You threatened the law enforcement officer.
    • You made the law enforcement officer’s job extremely difficult.

If I am convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed and I am a non-Virginia resident, will I receive the same amount of jail time as a Virginia resident?

  • Yes. When imposing active jail time, judges do not take into consideration if you are an out of state resident. Accordingly, you will be sentenced to active jail time under the same standards as a Virginia resident, which is described in the question above.

If I am convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed, will my Virginia license be suspended by the judge?

  • That depends. Different courts have different policies. Usually a judge will suspend your Virginia license if one of the bullets below apply to your case:
    • Depending on your specific judge, you were driving either 25mph or more over the posted speed limit; 30mph or more over the posted speed limit; or 35mph or more over the posted speed limit.
    • You have had several speed-related convictions within the last five (5) years. The definition of “several” depends on your specific judge.
    • You displayed erratic driving behavior in addition to your speed. For example, rapidly changing lanes, constantly changing lanes, weaving in and out of traffic, tailgating other cars, and/or driving in the emergency lane is erratic driving behavior.
    • You threatened the law enforcement officer.
    • You made the law enforcement officer’s job extremely difficult.
    • You failed to complete a driver improvement program that was required by the court.

If I am convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed, will my non-Virginia license be suspended by the judge?

  • No, not directly. A Virginia judge cannot suspend a non-Virginia license. However, the judge may suspend “your privilege to drive in Virginia” under the same standards as a Virginia license holder, which is described in the question above. If that happens, the state that licensed you may receive notice of the judge’s suspension and may, in turn, suspend your license. Each state varies on how it treats out of state traffic convictions. Therefore, contact the DMV and/or a traffic attorney in the state that licensed you to determine how the punishment for a reckless driving by speed conviction in Virginia will affect your license.

If I am convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed, will my Virginia license be suspended by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV)?

  • The Virginia DMV will suspend your Virginia license if one of the bullets below apply to your case.
    • You were 18 years old or older at the time you committed the offense and this reckless driving by speed conviction causes you to accumulate a total of 18 demerit points within a one (1) year period or 24 demerit points within a two (2) year period.
    • You were 18 years old or older at the time you committed the offense and you were under a six (6) month probationary period with the Virginia DMV at the time you committed the offense.
    • You were 16 or 17 years old at the time you committed the offense and this reckless driving by speed conviction is your second or subsequent conviction that carries demerit points.
    • You failed to complete a driver improvement program that was required by the DMV.

If I am convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed and have a non-Virginia license, will my non-Virginia license be suspended by my state’s DMV?

  • Maybe. Each state varies on how it treats out of state traffic convictions. Therefore, contact the DMV and/or a traffic attorney in the state that licensed you to determine how the punishment for a reckless driving by speed conviction in Virginia will affect your non-Virginia license.

Where exactly does your firm handle Reckless Driving by Speed cases?

  • Our Northern Virginia office handles:
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Fairfax City
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Fairfax County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Town of Herndon
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Town of Vienna
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Alexandria City
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Loudoun County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Culpeper County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Frederick County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Winchester County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Warren County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Stafford County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Fauquier County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Shenandoah County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Spotsylvania County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Hanover County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Henrico County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Richmond City
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Chesterfield
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Prince William County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Manassass City
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Arlington County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in City of Falls Church
  • Our Hampton Roads office handles:
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Newport News
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Hampton
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in York County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Poquoson
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Williamsburg
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in James City County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in New Kent County
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Middlesex
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in King William
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Suffolk
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Portsmouth
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Chesapeake
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Norfolk
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Virginia Beach
    • Reckless Driving by Speed in Northampton County (Eastville)

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