Legal Services Blog: Reckless Driving


You know that sinking feeling you get in your gut when you see flashing red and blue lights in your rear view mirror? I’ve got great news! Your fear is very, very rational.

Here’s a hypothetical: you’re driving along, minding your own business, and you accidentally hit 81 mph in a 65 mph zone. Cop sees you… and busted! License and registration, the whole bit. Okay, so you’re going 16 mph over the speed limit. That’s the same as going 41 in a 25. Certainly not good, but it’s not like you’re going to go to jail or anything, right?

I think you know where I’m going with this. You might be going to jail.

According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website, reckless driving can be defined as, among other things, driving over 80 mph, speeding 20 mph over the posted speed limit, driving too fast for weather conditions (e.g. driving too fast in the rain) and even just failing to give a proper signal. Oh, and driving recklessly in a parking lot.

According to Virginia Code §46.2-868, “every person convicted of reckless driving…shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor.” As you might already know, a Class 1 misdemeanor is as close to a felony as you can get. And here’s the real Shawshank shocker.

The punishment for a Class 1 misdemeanor, according to Virginia Code §18.2-11, is up to a year in jail. Or a fine of $2,500. Or both. All for going one measly mile per hour over the speed limit.

It may sound a little harsh, but remember that the purpose of this law is to keep you safe by making sure every time you get on the road you don’t have to worry that the guy next to you is going to pull something stupid.

Be safe out there and follow the law.