UNDERSTANDING YOUR RECKLESS DRIVING BY SPEED CHARGE

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

    • Virginia Code §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.

  • What must the police officer prove to find me guilty of Reckless Driving by Speed?

    • The police officer must prove beyond a reasonable doubt each and every element listed below:

      • 1) You drove
      • 2) a motor vehicle
      • 3) on a highway in Virginia
      • 4a) at a speed of 20mph or more over the posted speed limit;
      • - OR -
      • 4b) at a speed of 81mph or more, regardless of the posted speed limit.
  • What are the fine points of the law on Reckless Driving by Speed?

    • A "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 considered a motor vehicle for purposes of a Reckless Driving by Speed charge. See Va. Code §46.2-100.

    • A “highway” is defined in Va. Code §46.2-100 as any road, street or alley that is open to the public for the purpose of vehicular travel in Virginia. See Va. Code §46.2-100.

  • How can a police officer determine my speed?

    • A police officer can determine your speed with the pace method, a radar device or a laser device.

    • The pace method requires the police officer to follow your car at a constant speed for 2/10 of a mile while maintaining an equal distance behind your car. Once this is done, the police officer will look at his or her speedometer to determine your speed. The pace method is valid only when the police officer first catches up to your car and then begins the pace method. The pace method is not valid if the police officer begins the pace method while he or she is still in the process of catching up to your car.

    • If a radar or laser device is used by the police officer to determine your speed, Virginia law requires that the radar or laser device be tested for its accuracy within 6 months preceding the date you received your ticket. If the police officer has no evidence in court that his radar or laser device was tested for its accuracy within 6 months preceding the date you received your ticket, your charge will be dismissed on a technicality.

  • What if I was not the only person speeding?

    • It does not matter. You can be convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed even if other cars were also speeding. It is no defense that you were traveling with the flow of traffic or were driving slower than the other cars. All that matters is that each and every one of the above elements have been proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

  • 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 license may be suspended, or your privilege to drive may be suspended, for up to a maximum period of six (6) months. You will receive six (6) demerit points on your Virginia driving record. If you have a non-Virginia license, your home state may treat the offense as if it happened in your home state and may assess its own demerit points.

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

    • Permanent criminal record that cannot be expunged.

    • Payment of a fine.

    • Payment of court costs.

    • Virginia will assess six (6) demerit points to your 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, your home state may treat the offense as if it happened in your home 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, the judge may suspend your privilege to drive in Virginia. If that happens, your home state may receive notice of the suspension of your privilege to drive in Virginia and may, in turn, suspend your license.

    • Possible increase in your car insurance policy.

    • Possible period of uniform good behavior.

    • Possible completion of 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 and are required to serve active jail time, possible effect on current and/or prospective government security clearance.

    • If the offense was alcohol or drug related, completion of the 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 have a non-Virginia license, the Virginia DMV may notify the DMV in your home state. If that happens, the DMV in your home state may, in turn, suspend your license.

    • 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. If you have a non-Virginia license, the Virginia DMV may notify the DMV in your home state. If that happens, the DMV in your home state may, in turn, suspend your license.

    • If 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 have a non-Virginia license, the Virginia DMV may notify the DMV in your home state. If that happens, the DMV in your home state may, in turn, suspend your license.

    • 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 have a non-Virginia license, the Virginia DMV may notify the DMV in your home state. If that happens, the DMV in your home state may, in turn, require you to complete a driver improvement program.

    • 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. If you have a non-Virginia license, the Virginia DMV may notify the DMV in your home state. If that happens, the DMV in your home state may, in turn, require you to complete a driver improvement program.

  • 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. You can only prepay a traffic infraction.

  • Do I have to appear in court for my 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 police 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 police 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 are charged with Reckless Driving by Speed 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.

    • Police officer not in uniform and not displaying his badge of authority

      If the police officer was not in uniform and not displaying his badge of authority when he issued you your Reckless Driving by Speed charge as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed. This rarely happens.

    • 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 device was not tested for its accuracy within six (6) months preceding the offense date as required by Va. Code §46.2-882, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the police officer did not pace your car to determine your speed. This rarely happens.

    • Radar or laser calibration sheet is not the original or a 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 police 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 police officer did not pace your car to determine your speed. This rarely happens.

    • Mistake with radar or laser

      If the evidence proves that the police 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 police officer did not pace your car to determine your speed. This is difficult to prove.

    • No proof that the police officer's speedometer was working accurately during the pace method

      If a pace was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the police officer’s speedometer was not tested for its accuracy, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the police officer did not use a radar or laser device to determine your speed. This rarely happens.

    • Police officer’s speedometer calibration sheet is not the original version

      If a pace was used to determine your speed and the evidence proves that the police officer’s speedometer calibration sheet is not the original version as required by Va. Code §46.2-942, the charge must be dismissed if the evidence also proves that the police 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 police 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 police officer did not use a radar or laser device to determine your speed.

    • Fabrication

      If the evidence proves that the police officer is lying about your speed, the charge must be dismissed. This is very difficult to prove. This very rarely happens.

    • Failure to prosecute on behalf of the police officer

      If the police officer fails to show up for trial, the charge may be dismissed for failure to prosecute.

  • If there is no defense to my case, how can I avoid a conviction of Reckless Driving by Speed?

    • If the prosecutor and/or police officer agree to reduce or dismiss the charge and the court accepts the prosecutor and/or police officer’s decision, the court may reduce or dismiss your charge immediately or after your completion of certain terms and conditions.

    • Depending on your jurisdiction, if the court finds that certain mitigating factors are present in your case, the court may reduce or dismiss your charge immediately or after your completion of certain terms and conditions.

  • If there is no defense to my case, how can I 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 which court you are in, the specific facts of your case and your driving record, your Reckless Driving by Speed charge may be reduced to one of the following charges: Defective Equipment, Improper Driving, Speeding (1-9mph over), Speeding (10-19mph over), or Speeding (20mph or more over). 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 are considered erratic driving behavior.

    You threatened the police officer.

    You made the police 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. If and 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 30mph-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 are considered erratic driving behavior.

      You threatened the police officer.

      You made the police officer’s job extremely difficult.

      You failed to complete a driver improvement program or any other conditions that were required by the court.

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

    • 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, your home state may receive notice of the suspension of your privilege to drive in Virginia 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 your home state to determine how a Virginia Reckless Driving by Speed conviction 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 or any other conditions that were required by the DMV.

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

    • It is possible. Each state differs on how it treats out of state traffic convictions. Therefore, contact the DMV and/or a traffic attorney in your home state to determine how a Virginia Reckless Driving by Speed conviction will affect your license.

  • Where does your law firm handle Reckless Driving by Speed cases?

    • 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 Southampton County

      Reckless Driving by Speed in Eastville County

      Reckless Driving by Speed in Accomack County

      Reckless Driving by Speed in Northampton County

    • 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 Manassas City

      Reckless Driving by Speed in Arlington County

      Reckless Driving by Speed in City of Falls Church