Most drivers regard speeding as a relatively minor traffic offense. Just about all of us have been pulled over for speeding at some point in our lives, and many of us are accustomed to just paying the ticket and being done with it. However, it may not be that simple if you caught speeding in the Old Dominion State. Virginia treats excessive speeding violations very seriously, and you may not be able to get off with just a fine, points on your driving record, and higher insurance rates.
Whether you live in the Commonwealth or you are just passing through on vacation or business, it is important to know the penalties you may be subjected to if you are pulled over for speeding in Virginia.
Penalties for General Speeding in Virginia
First, let’s start with the fines for general speeding tickets. In most instances, your fine will be $6 for every mile per hour you exceed the speed limit (§ 46.2-870). For example, if you are going 55MPH in a 40MPH zone, your fine would be $90 ($6 X 15MPH over). If you are caught speeding in a school or work zone, the fine is $7 per MPH over the speed limit (§ 46.2-873 and § 46.2-878.1).
In certain residential areas, the fine is $200 plus $8 for every MPH over the speed limit (§ 46.2-878.2). And in highway safety corridors, there is a maximum fine of $500, and a $200 minimum if the violation is classified as a criminal offense (§ 46.2-947).
In addition to these fines, you will receive between 3 and 6 demerit points on your driving record, depending on how fast over the speed limit you were going and other factors. Demerit points can result in higher insurance rates, and at certain levels, you will be required to take a mandatory driving course and eventually you could lose your driving privileges. For commercial drivers, the consequences could be even worse, in some cases costing them their livelihood.
If you are an out-of-state driver and you get a speeding ticket in Virginia, you will most likely face consequences back home. Virginia is one of the 45 states that participates in interstate Driver’s License Compact, which means they share information with your home state if they are also part of the Compact. Penalties will vary depending on the state in which you are licensed to drive.
The penalties listed here are for speeding if you are caught driving 19 miles per hour or less over the speed limit, and the consequences are fairly similar to most other states. If you are cited for this type of violation, you can either pay the ticket or contest it; the best course of action depends on the circumstances of your case. A conversation with a knowledgeable Virginia traffic offense attorney will help you decide which option best suits your interests.
Harsh Penalties for Excessive Speeding in Virginia
If you are caught driving 80 miles per hour or higher or 20 miles per hour over the speed limit in Virginia, it is a whole new ballgame. By exceeding either of these thresholds, you can end up with a criminal charge for reckless driving. In Virginia, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is the same level of offense as a DUI and is punishable with fines of up to $2,500, loss of driving privileges, and yes, even jail time.
Jail time for excessive speeding is not the norm, but it does happen, particularly when drivers exceed 90 miles per hour. You may remember the story a few years back of Washington Nationals outfielder Jayson Werth, who was convicted of reckless driving, received 10 days in jail, and lost his driver’s license for an unspecified period of time, all for going 105 miles per hour in a 55MPH zone.
Even if you don’t get jail time, however, you could still be facing heavy fines, a driver’s license suspension, and skyrocketing insurance rates just for speeding excessively. Not to mention that you would also have a Class 1 misdemeanor violation on your record, which you would not be able to have expunged in Virginia if you are convicted.
Many drivers do not even realize that they are getting a reckless driving ticket at the time they are pulled over. Some law enforcement officers do not make this clear, and you need to look closely at your ticket to see what you were cited or charged with.
On the ticket, you may either see “RD” written, which is an abbreviation for “reckless driving.” Alternatively, the officer may write the code section which you violated. For reckless driving, this would be VA code section § 46.2-852.
If you have been charged for reckless driving in Virginia, speak with a skilled criminal defense lawyer immediately to discuss your legal rights and options. This is not something you can afford to take lightly, and if you do nothing, you could end up with severe consequences for years to come.
Call the Experienced Virginia Criminal Defense Attorneys at Olmstead & Olmstead
For strong legal guidance for reckless driving charges and all other types of traffic violations and criminal offenses in Virginia, call Olmstead & Olmstead today at 703-361-1555 to schedule a personalized free consultation. You may also message us through our online contact form or visit our office in Manassas, VA at your convenience.