While no states are lenient on reckless or “drunk” drivers, Virginia is tougher than most. Reckless driving by speed is one of the most frequently charged traffic offenses in Virginia, and it’s a law that is surprisingly easy to violate. That’s because Reckless driving by speed is triggered when a driver exceeds the speed limit by 20 miles per hour or more, or is clocked at a speed of over 80 miles per hour, regardless of the speed limit. On long stretches of Virginia freeway, those thresholds can be easily crossed, especially if you are an out-of-state driver just passing through, on the way to your home state. What’s more, while a reckless driving charge in Virginia is considered a traffic offense, it is also considered a class one misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail, or a $2500 fine, or both. In addition, the court may suspend your driver’s license (or your privilege to drive in Virginia for out-of-state drivers) for up to 6 months. Suffice it to say, Virginia takes reckless driving very seriously, and the consequences of a conviction can be grave.
While a reckless driving charge in Virginia is considered a traffic offense, it is also considered a class one misdemeanor, with a maximum penalty of up to 12 months in jail, or a $2500 fine, or both
Driving While Intoxicated (DWI) in Virginia is also a class one misdemeanor, carrying the same 12 month/$2500 fine as reckless driving. In addition, DWI convictions carry an automatic 12-month license suspension. In most cases a restricted license is available for first-time DWI offenders, but the defendant must have an ignition interlock device installed on each vehicle registered to him or her in order to be eligible for this privilege.
DWI convictions carry an automatic 12-month license suspension.
Besides the observations of the arresting Virginia police officer, the most common evidence of DWI is the Blood Alcohol Content (BAC) of the driver. If a driver’s breath test result is below .05, there is a presumption that the driver was not under the influence of alcohol. If a driver’s BAC is between .05 and .08, no presumption of intoxication applies. However, if a Virginia driver has a BAC higher than .08, there is a presumption that the driver was intoxicated. This presumption can be rebutted with other evidence at trial, and the ability to do so is very fact-dependent.
If a Virginia driver has a BAC higher than .08, there is a presumption that the driver was intoxicated, but this presumption can be rebutted with other evidence at trial, and the ability to do so is very fact-dependent.
While most drivers charged with a first offense DWI are likely not facing jail time, there are certainly exceptions. The most common exception is for those who submitted to a breath test upon their arrest, for which the result was a BAC of .15 or above. These drivers, if convicted, face a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 5 days. For those drivers with a BAC above .20, the minimum sentence imposed will be 10 days. Drivers facing second and third DUI convictions also face mandatory jail time and additional penalties.
Because the penalties for Reckless driving and DWI can be severe, you should be represented by counsel if you have been charged with either of these offenses. If you have been cited or arrested for Reckless driving or DWI in Arlington, Alexandria, or Fairfax county, contact Jay P. Mykytiuk Trial Attorney for a case evaluation.
Learn about traffic crimes like DUI and reckless driving in D.C.