The Legal Obligation to Sign Your Ticket
If a police officer gives you a reckless driving ticket in Virginia, you are not legally obligated to sign it, but it is typically in your best interest to sign your ticket. Reckless driving is not a simple traffic violation in Virginia. Unlike speeding or parking tickets, reckless driving is a serious criminal offense. Read the ticket carefully and call a Chesapeake reckless driving lawyer for guidance right away.
A Virginia Reckless Driving Ticket Is a Summons
When you receive a reckless driving ticket from an officer, it is not just a ticket. Instead, it is a summons. Reckless driving is usually a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. In some more serious cases, it can be a felony. With many other misdemeanors and felonies, the officer arrests the accused person. They go to the police station to be booked and processed.
Law enforcement can use their discretion in some cases. They may choose to issue the reckless driving summons instead. This can save you from being handcuffed and being taken to the police station to be jailed and processed. If you sign your ticket without protest, you may be free to go until your day in court.
What Is a Summons?
A reckless driving ticket is a court summons. It will state the date, time, and location for when you must appear in court. You promise to appear at this assigned time and location by signing the ticket. You have not yet received any punishment, like a fine or driver’s license suspension. You are innocent until proven guilty.
Code of Virginia § 46.2-852 defines reckless driving as driving “in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” This is “irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law.” Excessive speed is one type of reckless driving. You may also be charged with reckless driving for passing a stopped school bus, failing to yield right-of-way, and other violations.
Is My Signature an Admission of Guilt?
Many people hesitate to sign a reckless driving ticket. They believe by signing it, they are admitting they are guilty of the crime. This is not the case.
Your signature is not an admission of guilt. Rather, it is only a promise to appear in court on the assigned date and time at the assigned location. Signing the ticket also confirms you may be arrested if you fail to attend your assigned court hearing. You are not admitting or confessing to anything else.
It is crucial to seek the advice of a Virginia reckless driving lawyer after you get a ticket. James Short has years of experience handling these types of cases. He can explain your options, develop your defense strategy, and represent you in court.
Consequences If You Do Not Sign Your Ticket
Strictly speaking, you do not have to sign the ticket. You have a choice. But choosing not to sign the ticket has consequences. Most immediately, it means you likely will not be free to go after the police officer pulls you over. Instead of a court summons to appear at a later date, the officer will arrest you and take you to the police station to be processed.
Reckless driving charges in Virginia are a very serious matter. People convicted of this class 1 misdemeanor may receive:
- Six DMV points
- A fine of up to $2,500
- Up to 12 months in jail
- License suspension for up to six months
- Permanent criminal record
Additionally, a reckless driving conviction can increase your car insurance premiums, and your criminal record could also impact security clearance, immigration, child custody, and other important life matters.
Seek Smart Legal Advice Right Away
Whether or not you think you are guilty, it is prudent to sign a reckless driving ticket if you receive one. Then, book an appointment with a Chesapeake criminal defense attorney right away to discuss your case.
Even if you believe you are guilty of reckless driving, do not just plead guilty and accept the punishment. Instead, there are ways to reduce a reckless driving charge in Virginia. Bringing the charge down to improper driving can make a world of difference.