Differences Between a Speeding Ticket and Reckless Driving in Norfolk

Reckless driving in Virginia, and particularly in Norfolk, is much more serious than it is in most other states. This is because Virginia has reckless driving by excessive speeding, which in most other places is only an infraction. In Norfolk, however, it is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which is the most serious class of misdemeanor charges.

That also means that, since it is a criminal charge, a conviction could ultimately land a person in jail. It is not the same thing as a speeding ticket since speeding tickets are just infractions, which have zero effect on a person’s criminal record and they do not have any possible jail time.

For this reason, it is crucial that a person contact a Norfolk reckless driving lawyer right away to ensure they receive a strong defense to combat the charges against them and to minimize the potential penalties as much as possible.


Reckless driving is a more serious offense than a speeding ticket. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor, which is a criminal violation, whereas speeding is simply a traffic infraction. The major difference is that criminal offenses, if they ultimately result in a conviction, are permanent, so a person will carry that with them for the rest of their life. The possible penalties for reckless driving are a fine of up to $2,500, jail time of up to 12 months, and a license suspension of up to six months.

Infractions, on the other hand, go away after a period of time, so it is as though they never happened at all. It is very important to know the difference. If someone is charged with speeding, they need to be certain that it’s just an infraction and not actually excessive speeding, which is reckless driving.

The best way to do this is by looking at the ticket that the officer gave them and seeing if it specifies whether it’s speeding or reckless driving. Sometimes the officer will write in shorthand and just put an “SP” for speeding or an “RD” for reckless driving and only the speed is listed. Right underneath that section it says whether the defendant has to appear in court. If they do have to appear, then more than likely it’s a misdemeanor because those require mandatory court appearances.

Case Processes

The process of a Norfolk reckless driving case is almost identical to the process of a speeding ticket case. A person is pulled over the exact same way and they are given a document that looks almost identical. Then, they go to court in the same courtroom as the people who have reckless driving tickets and speeding tickets and they would go up to the judge in the exact same way.

The only difference is in the consequences. A person should expect that if they are charged with reckless driving, the judge will remind them that jail time is a possibility and if the person has not hired a lawyer, the judge will usually urge them to do so or ask them to sign a document that waives their right to an attorney.

How Cases Are Handled

Norfolk is very tough on reckless drivers. The judges here are pretty notorious for giving people a weekend or two in jail whenever they are driving 30 mph or more over the posted speed limit. It is one of those charges that judges rule very harshly on, sometimes even more so than they would in cases that seemed to be much bigger deals, such as certain drug cases. Some judges in Virginia will give a person one day in jail for every mile per hour over the posted speed limit that they were going.

Role of an Attorney

It is crucial to have an attorney in reckless driving cases because these cases have a lot of room for negotiations and they are oftentimes really winnable. An attorney can help a person figure out what evidence is relevant and can also help them prepare before court. For some cases, this means having the speedometer calibrated or doing community service. If a person has a good driving record, then an attorney would probably advise them to bring a copy of that as well.

Additionally, during a trial, not only can a lawyer introduce evidence in a person’s defense, but they can also cross-examine the officer in such a way to shed reasonable doubt on the officer’s testimony.

Reckless driving cases are serious Class 1 Misdemeanors in Virginia. They are really common and it can be life ruining for some people—especially people in the military. It’s important to take this seriously and have local counsel so that you have someone on your side who’s familiar with the court system and the judges. An attorney can best advise you on what you should be doing to mitigate the possible damages and ideally have your case dismissed or at least reduced to something more manageable.