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What is Reckless Driving?

Reckless driving happens when the operator of a vehicle behaves in a way that it creates a risk for others. The difference from some other traffic laws, such as getting a speeding ticket, reckless driving is based on the individual circumstances of each case.

Driving is such an indelible part of modern life that every state has a complex system of laws governing how people must act when operating a vehicle. Because vehicles are potentially so dangerous, driving in a reckless or unsafe manner is a crime in itself. Anyone charged with this crime faces significant penalties.

The crime of reckless driving occurs whenever someone operates a vehicle in such a way that it poses a risk to others. Unlike some other traffic laws, such as speeding violations, reckless driving is highly dependent on the circumstances of each individual case. Though many states list specific actions that qualify as reckless driving, drivers can be convicted of this crime whenever they drive in an unreasonably dangerous manner.


Reckless driving is one of the more serious traffic offenses a person can commit. If you are convicted of reckless driving, you face significant penalties that often include jail, fines, and the revocation of your license. Though penalties differ significantly among states and depend on the circumstances of the case, reckless driving charges typically bring with them a range of penalties.

Jail or prison. Reckless driving is often categorized as a misdemeanor offense, meaning that a person convicted of the crime faces up to one year in jail. However, a small number of states also allow the crime to be charged as a felony, meaning a conviction can bring a year or more in a state prison. Felony charges are often filed in situations where someone was injured as a result of the reckless driving.

Fines. Fines are a very common penalty when a person is convicted of reckless driving. The amount of the fine can differ widely based on the state and circumstances of the crime, but they usually range from several hundred to several thousand dollars.

Probation. Probation sentences are also possible with reckless driving convictions, though they are highly dependent on the circumstances of the case and the driver's driving history. If a court sentences you to probation, it will require you to comply with specific terms, such as finding a job, making regular visits to a probation officer, and not committing any crimes or other traffic violations. If you violate the terms of probation, the court may revoke it and force you to serve a jail or prison sentence instead. Probation typically lasts 12 months or more.

License suspension. A person convicted of reckless driving also faces the possibility of a license suspension or revocation. State laws typically include a mandatory suspension of at least 30 days whenever a person is convicted of reckless driving. If the driver has previous reckless driving convictions or other traffic violations, lengthier suspensions and even permanent license revocation is also possible.

Speak to a Professional Experienced Virginia Traffic Attorney

Anyone facing a reckless driving charge in Virginia should always consult a local criminal defense attorney before taking any further steps in your case. A local Virginia attorney will know how local prosecutors and courts handle reckless driving charges, what the state requirements are, and will have experience dealing with reckless driving and other traffic offenses. Even if you have never been convicted of a crime and don't believe you are guilty of the charge, reckless driving is a serious offense that has significant consequences, including an impact on your ability to obtain insurance. Don't dismiss a reckless driving charge as simply another traffic ticket, and speak to a criminal defense attorney at The Smith Firm PLLC as soon as possible.

*original article posted https://www.criminaldefenselawyer.com/crime-penalties/federal/Reckless-Driving.htm

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