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Reckless Driving


Why you need a lawyer:

(1) Loss of license (2) Jail time up to 12 months (3) Employment consequences (4) Increased insurance costs (5) Criminal record

What the Law Offices of Christopher James can do for you:

Work to see that the charge gets dismissed, amended, or reduced and ultimately with no conviction and no license consequences

What we try to do: we negotiate with the Commonwealth Attorney and the police to see if they will reduce the charge to

  1. A non-moving violation like “defective equipment” under Virginia code 54.1;
  2. Traffic School –  depending on your DMV transcript, you take and pass a traffic class and have the charge later dismissed;
  3. General speeding or improper driving.
  4. Amend the code section or county section that takes it out of “reckless driving class one misdemeanor” category.
  5. Work out an arrangement where there is no license suspension.
  6. For speeds over 95 mph, work out an agreement to waive any active jail time.

Provide your lawyer with:

  1. Vehicle speed calibration (around $50)
  2. Current DMV transcript
  3. Detailed explanation of the stop
  4. Any repairs made that would affect speed calibration

Why you were charged:

46.2-862  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 an hour or more in excess of the applicable speed limit or (ii) in excess of 80 miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit. Reckless driving by speed is a Class 1 criminal misdemeanor and the most common form of reckless driving. You were either paced by the officer or you went through a speed trap where they were using radar or LIDAR. Ask yourself: were you on a “public highway”? Were you aware of your speed? Has your car been calibrated, is your speedometer working? Did you react to another speed limit sign earlier and thought it still applied?

There are many other types of reckless driving under separate Virginia code sections:

46.2-853 Driving a vehicle which is not under control: faulty brakes

46.2-854 Passing on or at the crest of a grade or curb

46.2-855 Driving with driver’s view obstructed or control impaired

46.2-856 Passing two vehicles abreast

46.2-857 Driving two abreast in a single lane

46.2-858 Passing at a railroad grade crossing

46.2-859 Passing a stopped school bus: prima facie evidence

46.2-860 Failing to give proper signals

46.2-861 Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions

46.2-862 Exceeding the speed limit: discussed above

46.2-863 Failure to yield the right-of-way

46.2-864 Reckless driving on parking lots

46.2-865 Racing: Penalty

46.2-865.1 Injuring another or causing death of another while engaging in a race

Improper driving: Code section 46.2-869

It is always desirable to have the charge of reckless driving amended to a lesser charge of improper driving under the above code section. Although improper driving does carry negative 3 points on the DMV record, it is much better than negative 6 points for reckless driving, it is not a class one misdemeanor and there is no ability for the court to suspend your license. Also, after court you can take a safe driving course on your own and receive 5 positive points, so even with the conviction your DMV record will go up 2 points. This all originated from a Reckless Driving ticket.

What the court wants to do: Suspend your license, or put you in jail!

Consequences: if found guilty of this violation you shall be guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor which carries up to one year in jail and a $2500 fine, and you lose your driving privileges for up to 6 months. Losing a license sets up any person to incur future driving violations which can quickly spiral.

Expect a suspension if you are over 90 mph, or 85 in some jurisdictions. Expect a jail sentence if over 95, or 90 in some jurisdictions, or any speed over 80 if your DMV record is so bad the court thinks jail is merited.


Some jurisdictions but not all (Prince William County does) have instructed the police officer to charge the person they deem at fault (at the accident scene) with a general reckless driving charge. The police are instructed to do this by the local prosecutor to ensure that, if needed due to the severity of the accident or your driving behavior, they can find you guilty of reckless driving if they feel it is deserved. Often in this situation you are overcharged just for their convenience when they review the case the day of court. It is important to have these charges reduced whenever you can to avoid having a reckless driving charge that was a result of a minor fender-bender.

You need a lawyer to protect you. Call the Law Offices of Christopher James at 703-330-4514.