11 MPH Over Speed Limit Equals a CRIMINAL Record?!

Did you know you could be saddled with a permanent criminal record for traveling as little as ten miles an hour over the speed limit in Virginia? It’s true.

I’m Northern Virginia Criminal Defense Attorney Scott Nolan, and I’m here to tell you about why a reckless driving charge in Virginia is so serious. Every state in the country has a reckless driving law and it’s usually one or two laws. And they’ll say something to the effect that, “If you’re driving in a way that you put life and property at risk then you are driving recklessly.”  Straight forward.

What you must know about Virginia

In Virginia, however, there are sixteen different definitions of reckless driving across fourteen different statues. The one that most people run afoul of, however, is the one that says, “If you are travelling more than twenty miles an hour over the speed limit or eighty miles an hour or faster, you are driving recklessly.”

Speeding could get you a criminal record

Virginia then becomes the only state to criminalize speeding. In much of the state you could travel seventy miles an hour on the highways but at eighty miles an hour you’re not just speeding, you’re committing a crime. This is often saddening to learn when you have never been in trouble before.

It’s especially true if you are an out of state driver passing through Virginia to find out this is not just a glorified speeding ticket. This is a permanent criminal record for doing essentially eleven miles over the limit.

So, the penalty for reckless driving is in theory up to twenty five hundred dollars and up to a year in jail. You could also lose your license for a full year. Now, that’s not a typical result. In fact, it’s a result that hardly ever happens.

A shocking “surprise”

Most people convicted of a first offense for reckless driving, depending on how bad the recklessness was, are not going to go to jail. However, that’s little comfort when they realize that what you are going to get is a permanent criminal record.

Every time you apply for credit, every time you apply for a job, every time a background check is done on you, if you are going through a security clearance, it’s going to come up.  So, if you’re charged with reckless driving in Virginia, don’t just treat it like a traffic ticket or a speeding ticket because it isn’t.

What you should do

Go talk to a qualified and experienced criminal defense attorney and make sure it’s somebody who doesn’t just dabble in traffic law. Find someone who is experienced and talk to them about your possible outcome. It’s important.

If you have questions about this or any other aspect of Virginia law, I’d love to talk to you about it. Please feel free to give me a call.