It’s common for teenagers to feel invincible when driving a car. While this is understandable, their inexperience can lead to serious accidents. With the risk involved, Virginia has strict penalties for teens convicted of reckless driving.
According to Virginia Code Section 46.2-852, a reckless driving offense is punishable by a fine of $2,500, 12 months in jail, a six-month license suspension, and six demerit points.
While teenage drivers can be charged as adults and face the ‘general rule’ consequences, they are often (depending on the severity of the offense) taken to juvenile court, where the consequences of a conviction are different. If you are looking for the adult consequences of a reckless driving conviction, check out that article. Or if you are interested in the average cost of a reckless driving speeding ticket look here.
Juvenile penalties for reckless driving
When a teen driver is found guilty of a reckless driving charge, the judge can choose one or a combination of the following punishments:
- Community service hours
- Restitution of damages or a fine
- Enrolling in a treatment or rehabilitation program
- License suspension or a delay in getting one
- Confinement in a juvenile detention center
Generally, the court system should choose the least restrictive punishments that balance the best interest of society and the teenager. The best result is rehabilitation and keeping the teen from repeating the offense but still giving punishment.
How does Virginia Law treat teenage drivers?
If you are found guilty of a traffic violation involving demerit points (or a violation related to safety belts or child restraints) committed while you were under the age of 18, a mandatory driver improvement clinic will be imposed upon you. It is imperative that you successfully complete this clinic within 90 days; failure to do so will result in the suspension of your permit or license until the requirements are fulfilled, as determined by the DMV.
Upon your second conviction for a demerit point offense (or a violation concerning safety belts or child restraints) committed while you were under 18, the DMV will impose a 90-day suspension on your permit or license. However, if you find yourself without any alternative means of transportation, you have the option to petition the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court in your jurisdiction for restricted driving privileges, permitting you to travel between your home and workplace.
In the event of a third conviction for a demerit point violation (or a violation related to safety belts or child restraints) committed while under the age of 18, the DMV will take more severe action, revoking your permit or license for a duration of one year or until you reach the age of 18, depending on whichever timeframe is longer.
Should you voluntarily choose to attend a driver improvement clinic, you will receive a commendation of 5 safe driving points. However, it’s important to note that if the DMV or a court mandates your attendance at the clinic, no safe driving points will be awarded.
You have the flexibility to meet the driver improvement clinic requirement through either an in-classroom session or an online course.
Virginia is also a Zero Tolerance state for drivers under 21. If you’re pulled over for DUI, you’ll face serious consequences.
What are teen driving restrictions in Virginia?
To minimize distractions, individuals under 18 can only have one passenger under 21 years old in the motor vehicle unless they are in the company of a licensed parent or adult (acting as the parent) in the front passenger seat. Those with learner’s permits can only carry one passenger under 18 years.
When a teen has had their license for one year or longer, they can carry a maximum of three passengers under 21 years under certain circumstances:
- During an emergency
- When there’s a licensed driver over 21 years in the front seat
- Traveling to and from school-sponsored activities
Although texting while driving is an offense for all Virginia drivers, teen drivers under 18 aren’t allowed to use their phones in any way when driving.
These rules may seem strict, but it’s all to keep our roads safe for everyone. We encourage parents to have open conversations with their children about responsible driving habits and the importance of following the rules.
Note: Reckless driving in Virginia constitutes careless driving regardless of speed or driving at a speed that endangers the life, property or limb of another person regardless of the stipulated maximum speed limit.
Does Virginia have a curfew for teenage drivers?
Teen drivers under 18 aren’t allowed to drive between midnight and 4 am.
The exceptions to this rule include driving:
- To and from places of employment
- To and from activities supervised by an adult and sponsored by a school, a public, religious, or civic organization
- During an emergency, including responding to an emergency call as a volunteer rescue squad or firefighter
How could a reckless driving conviction affect a teenager’s insurance premiums?
A reckless driving misdemeanor conviction for a teenager can considerably raise their insurance premiums, potentially impacting their financial liability well into adulthood.
This surge in insurance rates carries into adulthood because the conviction often stays on a driver’s record for several years.
How could a reckless driving conviction impact a teenager’s criminal record?
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor charge, and the conviction records are sealed from public view. However, the conviction stays on record for 11 years. This means a teenager will have the charge on their record until age 29, when they are automatically expunged.
Since they are sealed, the conviction record won’t appear on background checks. However, employers or agencies can access sealed records by getting court permission. In such situations, your job opportunities and housing requests may be affected. Some colleges even ask if the teenager has participated in juvenile delinquency proceedings affecting their chances of getting admitted.
Hire a professional to safeguard your teen’s future
When your teenage child is charged with reckless driving, you should assess the case with their future in mind. Teenagers stand to lose a lot from a criminal record than other demographics. And since reckless driving charges are misdemeanors and not simple traffic infraction charges, convictions carry heavier penalties.
You need a reckless driving attorney to help the teenager avoid serious penalties or missing school or job opportunities. Reckless driving lawyers at Keefer Law Firm treat every case differently based on the situation and are dedicated to getting clients the best possible outcome.
Contact our offices today for a consultation, and let us help you prepare the best defense.