I get phone calls all the time and people will frequently start the conversation by saying they received a speeding ticket. More often then not, I am able to clarify they are really charged with Reckless Driving by Speed, and not simple speeding.

Reckless Driving by Speed is a class 1 misdemeanor offense, which carries a possible jail sentence of 0-12 months, a fine of $0-2500, and a possible license suspension of up to six months. If you are convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed, no matter what state you reside in, you will have a misdemeanor criminal record regardless of what happens to your driving record.

By contrast, simple speeding is a mere traffic infraction. It does not carry the possibility of jail time, and the fine can range from $0-250. If you are convicted of simple speeding there will be no criminal record.

Virginia’s Reckless Driving by Speed law is 46.2-862. The law makes it a misdemeanor to drive EITHER twenty or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit OR in excess of eighty miles per hour, regardless of the speed limit. So you can be convicted of reckless driving for driving 81 mph in a 70. It does not matter that your home state, or your licensing state does not treat your speed as reckless driving. The fact that Virginia criminalizes it means that if you are convicted you will have a misdemeanor record.

Many people believe that to prove reckless driving, you must show weaving, tailgating, swerving, or other reckless behavior. That is not true in Virginia. In Virginia, the Commonwealth must only prove you were driving your vehicle EITHER twenty or more mph over the speed limit OR that you were driving in excess of 80 mph.

If you are charged with this offense you should take this very seriously. I frequently get phone calls from people who are fired from their jobs three to six months after being convicted of Reckless Driving by Speed for simply driving 81 mph in a 70. When their employer finds out three to six months later, they lose their job because of the misdemeanor. And then they contact me to see what they can do about it. However, at that point it is too late.

In this economy it is difficult enough to find work. If an employer has to choose between two equally qualified candidates do you think they will choose the candidate with a clean criminal record or the candidate with a misdemeanor? If you find yourself charged with this offense, contact a knowledgable traffic attorney. Depending on the facts of your case, you can often get your charge reduced so it is not a misdemeanor, or even dismissed.

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