When people are charged with Reckless Driving, they most often cannot believe that they have been charged with a crime. These are usually people who have never been in trouble before. Not once in their life did they ever think that they would be convicted of a crime, much less even ever be charged with a crime. They ask, “Is it a crime for going 20 mph or more over the speed limit?” My answer – YES.
But do not freak out, if you hire an experienced reckless driving lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia, and both your speed is not outrageous and your driving record is decent (e.g. just one or two minor moving violations in the past ten years), you can get your charge reduced to a Traffic Infraction, such as Speeding, which is not a crime. Also, as other articles on my site point out, even if you are convicted, a Reckless Driving does not go on your criminal record. (Despite what every other web site says, a Reckless Driving does not go on your criminal record. I know this for a fact because I was Chairman of the House of Delegates Committee that wrote the criminal laws.)
At this point, it may be helpful to distinguish what kinds of offenses exist in Virginia.
First, is Felonies. Generally, these are crimes of violence, sex crimes, drug distribution crimes, drug (other than marijuana) possession crimes, and property crimes like fraud, embezzlement, and larceny of $500 or more. A Felony carries with it 1 year or more in prison. The fines vary from $2,500 to tens of thousands, depending upon the crime. These all go on a criminal record.
Second, is Misdemeanors. Generally, these include Possession of Marijuana, Assault & Battery, property crimes like fraud, embezzlement and larceny of less than $500, Trespassing, and Traffic Crimes such as DUI, Reckless Driving, Driving on a Suspended License, Eluding Police. These crimes are up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. For the Traffic Crimes, most include a suspension of a driver’s license of up to one year. Most of these go on a criminal record. And for the Traffic Crimes, they all go on your DMV record.
Third, are Traffic Offenses. These are NOT crimes. They are infractions. You cannot get jail and you cannot get a license suspension. The maximum penalty is $250. If convicted, they go on your DMV record for ten years. Also, for moving violations, you get DMV Demerit points. If you accumulate too many DMV demerit points, the DMV will put you on probation. If you get another moving violation while on probation, then your license may get suspended.
Fourth are civil violations. These are status offenses, such as driving in the HOV lane without the requisite number of passengers. These are merely fines.
So, as you can see, Reckless Driving is kind of a hybrid between a Misdemeanor and a Traffic Offense. It is a Misdemeanor carrying with it the possibility of up to one year in jail, up to $2,500 fine and up to a 6-month loss of license, but it does not go on the criminal record. Remember, in Fairfax County Virginia, the Prosecutors will not talk directly to you. They only talk to attorneys. So if you want to get a Plea Agreement reducing the charge from the crime of Reckless to a Traffic Infraction, you have to hire a lawyer, preferably a lawyer experienced in Reckless Driving law in Fairfax County. Contact the office of Dave Albo – Attorney for more information.