Frequently Asked Questions: Reckless Driving Charges in Fairfax

If you have been charged with reckless driving in Fairfax, you may be unsure about the severity of the charge and what you should do next. Below is a brief overview of reckless driving laws, charges, and practices in Virginia. If you have further questions or if you think you need legal help, contact us to schedule a no-cost initial consultation with a reckless driving lawyer in Fairfax.

Is reckless driving a serious charge in Fairfax, Virginia?

Reckless Driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor – the most serious of misdemeanors and on par with DUI and certain assault offenses.  Penalty upon conviction can be up to 12 months in jail and/or a $2,500 fine. It is outlined in Virginia Criminal Code Section 46.2-852.  There are more than 10 offenses that fall under the umbrella of reckless driving in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Some of the most common include:

  • Failing to be in control of a vehicle and/or driving with a obstructed view, Section 46.2-853;
  • Passing at a railroad crossing or passing a stopped school bus;
  • Driving faster than traffic conditions and weather conditions may permit, Section 46.2-861;
  • And driving 20 or more miles over the posted limit or in excess of 80 mph regardless of the posted limited, Section 46.2-862.

Other charges include improper passing offenses, street or highway racing, and failure to yield the right of way. All reckless driving offenses have a common component insomuch as they are based on the premise that the driver poses undue danger to lives and property.

What will happen if I’m convicted of Reckless Driving in Fairfax?

Because reckless driving is a criminal offense, punishment can be severe and could include up to one year in jail, especially if you have similar prior offenses and citations on your record. In addition to jail time, you could also be ordered to pay a fine of as much as $2,500, though again, it depends on the type of reckless driving charge and your previous history of driving offenses.  It’s not unusual for a first-time offender to pay $100 for every mile over the speed limit  Judges are allowed to exercise discretion in sentencing. Points can also be assessed against your driver’s license, which can result in revocation of your driving privileges.

Can I appeal my reckless driving conviction?

Yes, but it must be filed no later than 10 days from the date of conviction in Fairfax County General District Court.  The decision should not be taken lightly because an appeal is referred to as a trial de novo.  This means that the results (and sentence) of your first trial disappear and your new case is heard in the Fairfax Circuit Court. You will certainly have a different judge and probably a different prosecutor.  At this new trial, if you are again convicted, your punishment could vary. It’s best to consult with a reckless driving lawyer regarding the risks and benefits of an appeal.

What if I don’t live in Fairfax?

If you live far from the county court, expect to be out of the country on your court date, or simply can’t afford to take off time off from work an attorney may be able to appear on your behalf. This means your attorney can contest the charge against you and fight the case or – if success doesn’t seem likely – negotiate and accept a plea agreement.  Of course you are bound by that agreement or verdict.  But you will have a reasonable amount of time to pay whatever fines are levied and comply with the terms of your agreement or conviction.

Will a reckless driving conviction affect my driver’s license?

Reckless driving convictions in Fairfax can result in six demerit points against your driver’s license and those points can remain on your driving record for up to 11 years.

The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) uses a Uniform Demerit Point System to monitor the driving records of all who are licensed to drive in the Commonwealth.  This point system establishes a numeric value – three, four, or six demerit points – to each moving violation conviction. When a driver accumulates too many points – generally 12 points in a 12 month period or slightly higher cumulative numbers over the course of up to three years – the DMV may suspend your driver’s license.

Is texting while driving reckless driving?

As of the time this page was written, it is technically not listed within any of the codes pertaining to reckless driving. It is currently prosecuted under Section 46.2-1078.1 of the Virginia Code and can result in a penalty of $125 for a first offense. However, law enforcement has been keenly focused on this issue as it can be extremely dangerous. Officers have some discretion in determining what constitutions reckless driving, and could argue that you were not in control of your vehicle or your view was blocked. Texting while driving, and other distracted driving behaviors, should always be avoided. If you have been cited for this issue, you should consult with a reckless driving lawyer to ensure your ticket doesn’t escalate to a criminal charge.

Can I be cited for reckless driving and other offenses simultaneously, such as DUI?

The short answer is yes. Imagine for a moment that you were speeding more than 20 mph over the limit and an officer stopped you. After talking to you, the officer may have noticed the odor of alcohol on your breath or that your eyes were glazed and bloodshot. The officer can use those indicators as probable cause for DUI and have you submit to Breathalyzer exam. If you fail the test, you could end up being cited for numerous traffic and criminal violations. This is actually quite common and is one of the primary reasons why those charged with such offenses should retain well-qualified legal counsel. The more charges you face, the more likely you are to receive the harshest punishment possible if you do not have an aggressive litigator working to protect your rights. A Fairfax reckless driving attorney can work to get some or all of the counts against you dropped and if conviction appears likely, he will push for a plea agreement that serves your best interests.