2nd Feb 2013
The True Cost of a Reckless Driving Conviction in Virginia
In Virginia, “Reckless Driving” is a class 1 criminal misdemeanor and not just a simple traffic ticket or a small fine. Upon conviction, a defendant can be looking at a large fine, suspension of license and possible jail time to name a few of the consequences. Even if a defendant avoided the above, upon conviction it would still result in a permanent criminal conviction. I think there is some confusion out there as to whether a Virginia Reckless Driving Conviction would create a permanent criminal conviction for a couple reasons:
For Drivers with Virginia Licenses
A reckless Driving conviction gets dropped off a driving record after 11 years. The problem is that a Driving Record and a Criminal Conviction are 2 different things. The fact that the offense is removed from the driving record has no relation to a criminal conviction.
For Out of State Drivers
A reckless Driving conviction may not even show up on an out of state driver’s driving record. Again, whether the conviction even shows up on a driving record is immaterial as to the fact that it will create a permanent criminal conviction.
Possible Consequences of a Permanent Criminal Record:
A driver, who was convicted of reckless driving a few years back, called me to ask what could be done now about the conviction. He had represented himself at trial and was convicted. He was in desperate need of removing the conviction because he was seeking employment and employers were asking about prior criminal convictions which seems standard these days. The problem is when these perspective employers looked into the matter, reckless driving is a Class 1 criminal misdemeanor. In Virginia, other class 1 criminal misdemeanors include assault and battery, possession of marijuana and petty larceny. Another problem is that employers are not the only ones asking about past criminal history. Colleges, graduate schools, law schools, medical schools, state boards for license of professionals such as lawyers, nurses, or doctors to name a few ask on their application about prior criminal misdemeanors. In addition, a criminal conviction may exclude you from some fields of work where a top secret clearance may be needed or commercial drivers seeking employment.
The Solution Is to Avoid a Conviction
I go to traffic courts in Hampton Roads on a daily basis and I see defendants getting in the guilty line and pleading guilty to reckless driving. I have never heard a judge inform them that their conviction will lead to a permanent criminal conviction before they enter a guilty plea. I wonder how many know that that the conviction will result in a permanent criminal conviction? Unfortunately, the only time they will most likely find out is when it is too late… for example when applying to grad school or applying for work.
An Overwhelming Number of My Clients are able to get an Out Right Dismissal or
Reduction to a Non-Criminal Traffic Infraction.
I know the case law and the statutes in and out and where there are possible defenses or loop holes. For Reckless Driving by Speed, I have reviewed the manuals for the main radars used in Virginia. I have also done a FIOA (Freedom of Information Act) to obtain a copy of the Virginia State Police and other local law enforcement agencies so that I can question them at trial in use of radars.
I offer reasonable fixed fees and payment plans and credit cards are accepted.