Is texting while driving considered reckless driving in Virginia?

Texting when driving is an unsafe driving practice that can result in motor vehicle accidents causing victims to suffer catastrophic injuries or death. In Virginia, texting while driving is a traffic infraction; however, reckless driving is a more serious misdemeanor offense, and a conviction can result in a permanent criminal record. If you have been charged with reckless driving for texting while driving, you may have strong defenses against the charges you face because texting while driving is not necessarily reckless driving.  Texting and reckless driving

Why Texting While Driving May Not Be Reckless Driving

Texting while driving and reckless driving are two separate offenses, and being convicted of either requires different types of proof. This means, you could be convicted of violating the law on texting and driving without violating the reckless driving law or vice versa.

Under Virginia law, it is unlawful for a person to drive and use a handheld personal communications device to manually enter multiple letters or text to communicate with another person or to read an email or a text. Violation of this law is a civil infraction. The penalty is a $125 fine for a first offense and $250 fine for a subsequent violation.

There are at least 14 separate offenses that are considered reckless driving in Virginia. The elements of the offense—which are very different from the texting and driving law—must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt for you to be convicted of reckless driving. Here are some of the grounds for charging you with reckless driving:

  • Driving over 20 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • Driving over 80 miles per hour no matter what the posted speed limit is
  • Driving a vehicle recklessly or in a manner that endangers another person or property
  • Driving too fast for weather conditions
  • Passing an emergency vehicle when it has its lights or siren on
  • Failing to properly signal
  • Failing to yield when required to do so

A conviction for reckless driving can result in a sentence of up to one year in jail, a fine not to exceed $2,500, and driver’s license suspension for six months.

If you have been charged with reckless driving for driving while texting or other reasons, there are strong defenses that can result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense. To learn how we can help you avoid the harsh consequences of a reckless driving conviction, call our office today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.