Virginia is a notoriously tough state when it comes to punishing speeding offenses. However, the actual process of getting a speeding ticket in Virginia is similar to most other states.
The main difference lies in the consequences for a speeding ticket, which, depending on the circumstances, can be surprisingly severe.
In this article, we’ll go over how speeding tickets work in Virginia.
We’ll also talk about the consequences of receiving a speeding ticket, as well as the difference between speeding and reckless driving.
Speeding or Reckless Driving?
The first and most important question you should ask is whether your ticket is for speeding or reckless driving.
In Virginia, reckless driving is defined as any of the following:
- Driving over 20 mph over the speed limit, or faster than 80 mph total.
- Driving in a way that endangers others, regardless of the speed.
- Failing to maintain control of your vehicle, including failure to maintain your vehicle’s brakes or other safety equipment.
Importantly, reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Virginia, not a simple traffic infraction like speeding.
Unlike a normal speeding ticket, you can’t just pay a fine and be done with a reckless driving charge.
Instead, you will have to come to court, and could potentially face serious consequences such as large fines and the loss of your license.
If you are charged with reckless driving, you should strongly consider contacting a lawyer.
An experienced Virginia lawyer can review the details of your situation, allowing you to make an informed decision regarding your plea.
What Happens When You Receive a Speeding Ticket in Virginia
Speeding tickets work the same way in all Virginia cities and counties.
No matter where you are, you can expect to undergo three relatively simple steps, as described below.
Step 1 — Receiving Your Ticket
Instead of giving you a slip of paper that says “speeding ticket” at the top, the officer will instead ask you to sign a “Virginia Uniform Summons.”
Basically, this piece of paper says “you must show up in this court on this day because you are being charged with this crime.“
By signing this summons, you are stating that you understand these three pieces of information.
It’s important to note that officers use this summons to deal with a wide variety of issues.
After all, the whole point of this form is to be a “uniform” way to “summon” people to court after an officer charges them with a crime.
In the context of a speeding ticket, the officer will place a check in the box next to the sentence “you may avoid coming to court only if this block is checked and all instructions on defendant’s copy are followed.”
Essentially, by following these instructions, you can avoid going to court altogether by entering a guilty plea and waiving your traffic ticket trial.
On the other hand, some Virginia residents are surprised when they arrive home and see that the officer wrote “reckless driving” on the “describe the charge” line.
In this situation, you must appear in court to fight the criminal charges against you, and the officer may even scratch out the “you may avoid coming to court” section altogether.
Step 2 — Resolving Your Ticket
Once you’ve confirmed that your ticket is for speeding, you need to follow the instructions on the ticket to resolve the matter.
Basically, this process boils down to (1) figuring out how much you owe, and (2) paying that amount to the court which has jurisdiction over your ticket.
Alternatively, you could choose to fight the ticket by showing up in court on the assigned day.
However, the easiest and quickest way to resolve a valid ticket is to pay the associated fine online.
Step 3 — Facing the Consequences of Your Ticket
Speeding tickets are traffic infractions, and are thus (essentially) non-criminal in nature.
For this reason, they do not carry the same penalties that you might face for a reckless driving charge.
For example, the DMV will rarely suspend your license for a basic speeding ticket, and the ticket will most likely have no effect on your current or future employment opportunities.
However, there are still a few long-lasting consequences of a speeding ticket which you should look out for.
For example, you may have to pay some fines and deal with increased insurance premiums.
Virginia Speeding Ticket Consequences
If you receive a speeding ticket, you will have to pay an associated fine to resolve that ticket.
However, the fine itself can vary according to when and where you were caught speeding.
For example, the “normal” fine for speeding is $6 per mile over the speed limit. In a school crossing, you’ll instead have to pay $7 per mile over the speed limit.
Generally speaking, the maximum fine for speeding in Virginia is $250.
However, you’ll also have to pay a processing fee of around $62, as well as an additional fee of $11 for every other offense on the same court date.
If you pay online, the court will also charge you a 4% convenience fee.
DMV Demerit Points
In addition to court fines, the Virginia DMV will also add either three or four demerit points to your license.
These stay on your record for two years, starting from the day of the offense.
If you accrue too many points within a short frame of time, you’ll have to attend a driver improvement clinic. Otherwise, you will lose your license.
Insurance Premium Increases
Although it’s not a punishment administered by the court, you should also expect a large increase in your insurance premiums after you receive a speeding ticket.
The exact percentage increase will depend on your insurance company and policy, as well as several other factors.
However, a 20 to 30 percent increase is not uncommon.
In most cases, a speeding ticket is an annoying problem, but not one that requires the help of a lawyer.
Generally, you can pay the speeding ticket online and end the matter without any additional hassle. However, reckless driving and other traffic-related misdemeanors are another story.
If you’ve been charged with such an offense, consult professional legal counsel.
An experienced Virginia traffic attorney can help you assess your situation and decide on the best course of action for your particular case.