Reckless Driving and DWI Offenses

What is considered reckless driving in Virginia?

There are several Reckless Driving statutes in Virginia:

  • The most common one is Reckless Driving by speed, §46.2-862. In Virginia, a person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
  • Reckless Driving by speed is a class 1 misdemeanor which is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, and/or a fine not to exceed $2500, and a possible license suspension not to exceed 6 months.
  • Generally speaking, you’re not in danger of receiving a jail sentence unless you were traveling more than 90 mph.
  • A license suspension may occur if you were speeding more than 84 mph, and of course a fine is always imposed if you are found guilty of reckless driving.

When evaluating your case, The Leiva Law Firm will review your driving record and the facts of your case. We will prepare your defense based on the instrument/method used by the police officer to determine your speed:

  • Did the officer use lidar, radar or pace? The speed of your vehicle may have been determined by the use of a laser speed determination device, radar, a microcomputer device that is physically connected to an odometer cable and both measures and records distance traveled and elapsed time to determine the average speed of a motor vehicle, or a microcomputer device that is located aboard an airplane or helicopter that measured and recorded your distance traveled and elapsed time.
  • The Leiva Law firm will verify the accuracy of the tool used to determine speed in your particular case, and will require a calibration reading to determine its efficiency.
  • The Leiva Law firm will go over the details of your case to determine your options, and help you identify the best course of action for your individual situation.

In these cases, you need an attorney who will be able to advocate on your behalf. You may be going to traffic court for the first time or you may have already been convicted and are making a misdemeanor appeal in circuit court. Either way, you need an attorney who can vigorously cross examine witnesses and negotiate with prosecutors to get you the results you want.

What is considered a DWI in Virginia?

Virginia Code §18.2-266, states:

  • It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train (i) while such person has a blood alcohol concentration of 0.08 percent or more by weight by volume or 0.08 grams or more per 210 liters of breath as indicated by a chemical test administered as provided in this article,
  • (ii) while such person is under the influence of alcohol,
  • (iii) while such person is under the influence of any narcotic drug or any other self-administered intoxicant or drug of whatsoever nature, or any combination of such drugs, to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely,
  • (iv) while such person is under the combined influence of alcohol and any drug or drugs to a degree which impairs his ability to drive or operate any motor vehicle, engine or train safely, or
  • (v) while such person has a blood concentration of any of the following substances at a level that is equal to or greater than:
    • (a) 0.02 milligrams of cocaine per liter of blood,
    • (b) 0.1 milligrams of methamphetamine per liter of blood,
    • (c) 0.01 milligrams of phencyclidine per liter of blood, or
    • (d) 0.1 milligrams of 3,4-methylenedioxymethamphetamine per liter of blood.
  • A charge alleging a violation of this section shall support a conviction under clauses (i), (ii), (iii), (iv), or (v).

For the purposes of this article, the term “motor vehicle” includes mopeds, while operated on the public highways of this Commonwealth.

Virginia has some of the harshest penalties in the Country if you’re convicted of a DWI. The possible penalties are as follows:

  • Any person violating any provision of § 18.2-266 shall be guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor with a mandatory minimum fine of $250.
  • If the person’s blood alcohol level as indicated by the chemical test administered as provided in this article or by any other scientifically reliable chemical test performed on whole blood under circumstances reliably establishing the identity of the person who is the source of the blood and the accuracy of the results (i) was at least 0.15, but not more than 0.20, he shall be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of five days or, (ii) if the level was more than 0.20, for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days.
  • Any person convicted of a second offense committed within less than five years after a prior offense under § 18.2-266 shall upon conviction of the second offense be punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and by confinement in jail for not less than one month nor more than one year. Twenty days of such confinement shall be a mandatory minimum sentence.
  • Any person convicted of a second offense committed within a period of five to 10 years of a prior offense under § 18.2-266 shall upon conviction of the second offense be punished by a mandatory minimum fine of $500 and by confinement in jail for not less than one month. Ten days of such confinement shall be a mandatory minimum sentence.
  • Upon conviction of a second offense within 10 years of a prior offense, if the person’s blood alcohol level as indicated by the chemical test administered as provided in this article or by any other scientifically reliable chemical test performed on whole blood under circumstances reliably establishing the identity of the person who is the source of the blood and the accuracy of the results (i) was at least 0.15, but not more than 0.20, he shall be confined in jail for an additional mandatory minimum period of 10 days or, (ii) if the level was more than 0.20, for an additional mandatory minimum period of 20 days. In addition, such person shall be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $500.
  • Any person convicted of three offenses of § 18.2-266 committed within a 10-year period shall upon conviction of the third offense be guilty of a Class 6 felony. The sentence of any person convicted of three offenses of § 18.2-266 committed within a 10-year period shall include a mandatory minimum sentence of 90 days, unless the three offenses were committed within a five-year period, in which case the sentence shall include a mandatory minimum sentence of confinement for six months. In addition, such person shall be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
  • A person who has been convicted of § 18.2-36.1, 18.2-36.2, 18.2-51.4, 18.2-51.5, or a felony violation of § 18.2-266 shall upon conviction of a subsequent violation of § 18.2-266 be guilty of a Class 6 felony. The punishment of any person convicted of such a subsequent violation of § 18.2-266 shall include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year and a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
  • The punishment of any person convicted of a fourth or subsequent offense of § 18.2-266 committed within a 10-year period shall, upon conviction, include a mandatory minimum term of imprisonment of one year. In addition, such person shall be fined a mandatory minimum fine of $1,000.
  • The vehicle solely owned and operated by the accused during the commission of a felony violation of § 18.2-266 shall be subject to seizure and forfeiture. After an arrest for a felony violation of § 18.2-266, the Commonwealth may file an information in accordance with § 19.2-386.34.
  • In addition to the penalty otherwise authorized by this section or § 16.1-278.9, any person convicted of a violation of § 18.2-266 committed while transporting a person 17 years of age or younger shall be (i) fined an additional minimum of $500 and not more than $1,000 and (ii) sentenced to a mandatory minimum period of confinement of five days.

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