Teenagers and Reckless Driving Charges in Virginia

A young life should not be derailed by a criminal conviction simply for making a mistake behind the wheel, and teens accused of driving recklessly deserve legal help from an experienced reckless driving lawyer in Virginia who provides representation in traffic crime cases.

Teenagers who are charged with reckless driving may lose their license. Parents and teens can expect significantly higher insurance costs, and the teen may experience lasting consequences of a criminal conviction when applying for school or jobs.

What Happens When Teenagers are Charged with Reckless Driving?

Virginia Code Section 46.2-852 defines the offense of reckless driving under the “general rule” which can include:

  • A six (6) month license suspension
  • Up to a $2,500 fine
  • Six demerit points on a Virginia driver’s license
  • A maximum of twelve (12) months in jail for a first offense.

A defendant can be charged with the offense of reckless driving for excessive speed or creating a risk to life, limb, or property as a result of their dangerous driving behavior.

While an adult will go to criminal court and face these possible penalties after being charged with reckless driving, a teenager will likely instead have his offense addressed in Virginia Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Courts.  Juveniles 17 and under are usually tried as minors in these special courts, unless the offense is a serious one.  This means the consequences of a charge for reckless driving can be very different for someone who is 17 and the time of the offense versus for someone who is 18 or older. Parents and teens need to understand the legal process for teenagers and reckless driving charges so they know what to expect.

An intake officer at the juvenile court may allow the teen to participate in an alternative program instead of delinquency proceedings for a reckless driving charge, depending upon the severity of the offense.  In most cases, however, the juvenile receives a Virginia Uniform Summons at their time of the offense requiring an appearance in the local JDR court. The teen may also be sentenced to penalties including:

  • Probation
  • Suspension of a driver’s license until he is 18 or delay in the ability to get a license
  • Community service
  • Driver’s education
  • Fines
  • Juvenile detention

There is more flexibility in juvenile court proceedings than in adult criminal court.  However, a teen ticketed for reckless driving can still get points on his license that affect insurance and mar his driving record into adulthood.  Colleges may also ask about whether a teen has ever been party to juvenile delinquency proceedings, and even a sealed record does not mean that a conviction for reckless driving will never impact a teen’s future.

Getting Help from a Reckless Driving Lawyer Representing Teens

Parents and teens need to understand how the law applies to teenagers and reckless driving charges. Young people accused of violating Virginia’s criminal laws should be represented by a lawyer with experience handling cases in the juvenile justice system.  Call as soon as possible after a charge of reckless driving so you will have an advocate to help safeguard a teenager’s future.

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