For the uninitiated, including some attorneys, Virginia’s driving laws can appear daunting and complicated. Offenses such as a reckless driving by speed, driving without a license, and driving on a suspended license may not be treated as seriously in other states, but in Virginia, they are misdemeanor offenses that could result in jail time, fines, and potential loss of Virginia driving privileges. If you are facing a serious traffic offense – especially a broadly worded offense like reckless driving – your best interests are served by speaking with an experienced Spotsylvania traffic lawyer. Though proper guidance and sound legal defense strategy, you may be able to avoid conviction in some instances, or mitigate your exposure to jail time, heightened fines, license suspension, and the collateral consequences of a driving related conviction, such as higher insurance premiums and points on your driving record.
One of the more surprising characteristics of Virginia traffic laws is the number of different reckless driving offenses that are covered by this “blanket offense.” According to Virginia Code Section 46.2-852, the general definition of reckless driving is applies when any person drives a vehicle on a public highway or street in a manner as to endanger the life, limb or property of themselves or another. In addition to this “general” statute, specific types of driving behavior considered “reckless” by other statutes include Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia include:
The penalties are often severe. A driver convicted of reckless driving is guilty of a class 1 misdemeanor, punishable by a jail sentence of up to 12 months and/or a fine of up to $2,500. Those who hold Virginia driver’s licenses receive six “demerit” points on their driving record, and they stay there for 11 years. In addition, Virginia driving privileges may be suspended for up to six (6) months for out of state drivers and Virginia drivers risk having their physical licenses taken from them for the same time period. Given these high penalties, anyone who receives a reckless driving ticket should quickly understand the severity of the offense and consequences. Therefore, it is crucial that they contact an experienced attorney to discuss all available defense options.
Traffic demerit “points” are administered by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). The local courts have control over what charge is entered against a traffic defendant, however, the court has no control over demerit points. Generally, demerit points are used by DMV to denote which drivers are operating safely and which drivers need improvement. They are also used by law enforcement, prosecutors, and even judges when deciding how to interpret a driver’s history behind the wheel.. But it’s not all bad. In Virginia, you can achieve “plus points” for a year of safe driving or even +5 safe driving points at once for participating in a voluntary driver improvement program course. The maximum “positive score” a Virginia driver can achieve is +5.
The following are a few of the more common offenses and the number of demerit points they bring against a driver’s record. Not all violations carry the same number of points. These violations are grouped according to the number of DMV demerit points assigned to each violation. The numbers of years that the points stay on your DMV record are in parentheses.
The DMV has the right to suspend or restrict your license if you have too many negative points. But there’s a process involved. It begins with an advisory letter from the DMV, informing you that you are either close to a threshold points balance for negative action, or that you have reached the threshold limit. If you have hit a certain limit, you may be required to complete a driver improvement program course by a certain date and show proof of completion to the DMV. Failure to complete the program would result in a suspension in this scenario. If you have accumulated too many points or already completed the mandatory driving course in the recent past, you may be receiving notice of suspension for a given time period. The DMV Driver Improvement Program also has probationary periods and control periods for drivers that have accumulated too many points over given periods of time. Be sure to read the DMV correspondence carefully, follow its requirements, and contact an experienced Spotsylvania traffic lawyer if you have any questions about what to do and what to look out for in the near future.
The skilled Spotsylvania traffic defense lawyers from our firm know the traffic laws and the local court system. It only takes a few minutes for a free case evaluation to determine the best defense to your specific reckless driving scenario or other traffic offense. If you have demerit points, will this ticket put you over the edge and generate an appearance letter from the DMV? Or is your driving record spotless, and do you want to keep it that way to protect that great insurance rate? Either way, we can help. Contact us anytime, day or night. You’ll find that a good traffic lawyer is well worth the investment, regardless of the charge, or the status of your driving record.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law