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Can I Just Pay My Reckless Driving Ticket, and Save Myself the Hassle of Going to Court?

Unfortunately, the answer is a resounding "NO." That is, of course, unless you want the Judge hearing your case to issue a bench warrant for your arrest.

The Commonwealth of Virginia has gained a reputation as one of the strictest jurisdictions in the country when it comes to driving offenses. Laws are tougher, fines are higher, and Judges are less forgiving. Despite this reputation, however, many people are unaware that "reckless driving" is actually a Misdemeanor in Virginia. That's right - you can go to jail for certain driving offenses in the Commonwealth.

In fact, depending on who is counting, there are more than a dozen reckless driving charges defined in the Virginia Code, and all of them are quite serious. What makes matters more complicated is that the various offenses are rather wide-ranging. For example, it is reckless driving to travel more than 20 miles per hour above the posted speed limit, or more than 80 mph in any instance. It may also be reckless driving to pass a school bus, where the bus is stopped for the purpose of loading or unloading children, the elderly or handicapped persons. Finally, driving on a highway with inadequate or improperly adjusted brakes could result in a reckless driving charge. Of course, these are only three of the defined reckless driving offenses.

In many cases, the maximum penalty for a first-time reckless driving offense is 12 months in jail and a $2500 fine. Furthermore, a reckless driving conviction will result in the loss of driving privileges, and it stays on your record for 11 years! All these penalties are in addition to the affect it will have on your auto insurance, employment (especially if you have a security clearance), family, and wallet.

The good news is that there are certain things you can do before you get to Court, which will maximize your chance of limiting the damage associated with a reckless driving charge. In many instances, it is possible to have the charge reduced; or, in some cases, have the case dismissed entirely.

Obviously, all the foregoing means that you can't just pay your reckless driving ticket. It is generally considered a "must appear" offense. Consequently, not only should you show up for your Court date, but it would be a good idea to have an attorney with you.

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Duff Kronfeld & Marquardt P.C.
11320 Random Hills Road
Suite 630
Fair Oaks Commerce Center
Fairfax, VA 22030

Phone: 703-591-7475
Fax: 703-273-4537
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