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Reckless Driving and Speeding

November 29, 2019

by M. Steven Osborne 

Did you know that speeding could get you charged with reckless driving in Virginia? Many people do not know this and find out the hard way. To make matters more worse, in Virginia, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. This means that it will appear on the criminal record of the offender in addition to the penalties against the offender's driving privileges. If you are driving in Virginia, it is important that you understand this potential criminal matter. 

The Code of Virginia stipulates that drivers on Virginia's roads convicted of going 20 miles per hour (mph) or more over the applicable maximum speed limit or who are going over 80 mph regardless of the speed limit, are guilty of reckless driving. Virginia Code 46.2-862. This means that if you are going 55 mph in a 35 mph zone, you may be convicted of a criminal misdemeanor. 

Likewise, many drivers, especially out of state drivers unfamiliar with Virginia's roads run afoul of the 80 mph limit. This particularly impacts drivers on Virginia's major interstate highways such as I-81 and I-95. On these roads, the posted speed limit is 70 mph. Many people believe that if they are going only 10 or 12 mph over the speed limit that this is not a problem. Especially in the jurisdictions along interstate highways, this can be a costly mistake. The maximum penalties for this type of misdemeanor are up to a $2,500 fine and/or confinement in jail up to one year. 

If you find yourself in the situations described above, it is important that you seek representation. Failure to appear in court, either in person or by counsel, can result in your being found guilty in your absence or possibly even result in a "show cause" or contempt of court finding. Therefore, it is important to have good counsel when dealing with a reckless driving citation, even if that citation was only issued for speeding.