Although most Virginia drivers aren’t aware of it, their chance to avoid a Virginia misdemeanor conviction for Reckless Driving took a major blow last month. A proposal to raise the reckless driving threshold to 85 miles-per-hour was defeated in the Virginia legislature in February 2015. Currently, drivers in Arlington, Fairfax, Alexandria, and the rest of Virginia may be charged with Reckless Driving for exceeding 80 miles-per-hour on Virginia roads. That means keeping up with traffic on I-95, I-66, and the Capital Beltway in Virginia can result in a criminal record for otherwise law-abiding citizens.
As a traffic lawyer in Northern Virginia, I find that the most common question I get from clients charged with reckless driving, dui, and other traffic offenses is: will I get points for that? Of course, they should probably be more concerned with whether they will get jail time, (especially in Arlington County), but everyone seems to worry equally about getting points on their license. And this is a legitimate concern. Excessive points on a Virginia driver’s license can lead to dramatically increased insurance costs and even license suspension. No one wants to give their car insurance company more of their hard-earned cash, and most people don’t want to start taking the bus to work. (Although it’s great for the environment!) So for good reason, Virginia traffic defendants want to know whether they’re going to get points, how many, and what can I do to avoid them.
Virginia already has some of the toughest DUI laws in the country, but they continue to find new ways to burden those convicted of DUI. The most recent addition to Virginia DUI punishment is the “ignition interlock” system. When installed in a car, an ignition interlock prevents that car from starting until the driver blows into a mouthpiece. The device measures the amount of alcohol in the driver’s blood, and will not allow the car to start if it detects a blood alcohol concentration above .02.
Virginia DUI first offenders must have an ignition interlock system installed on all vehicles they intend to operate if they wish to receive a restricted license. For most DUI offenders, a restricted license is a must, so that they can continue driving themselves to their jobs, and transporting their children to and from school or child care. The system must be kept on the car for at least six months.