Should I just Prepay my Virginia Reckless Driving Ticket?

Many of my clients will call me trying to decide whether they should just prepay their Virginia reckless driving ticket rather than hiring an attorney.  Many officers will even check the box on your summons indicating that you are not required to appear on your court date.  They will explain to you that you can simply pay the ticket by calling the number on the summons.  However, they rarely explain that you are not being issued a simple speeding ticket but rather a reckless driving summons that is a class 1 misdemeanor, the most severe classification.

Prepaying your ticket can have unanticipated consequences.  First and foremost, by paying the ticket you are pleading guilty to reckless driving and will be found guilty of the class 1 misdemeanor.  This reckless driving conviction is then likely to carry a significant number of points for your driving record and drastically increase your insurance rates.

Paying your ticket may also limit what I am able to accomplish for you in court.  In some instances, we will have to file a motion to reopen your case, which can be time consuming and an added expense to the case.  In other cases it becomes problematic for the court especially with courts that prefer to use driving school as a mechanism for a dismissal of the case, such as Dinwiddie and Henrico, Virginia.  In that scenario, the court would only collect court costs and not fines.  However, if you have already paid your fine the court may be reluctant to move forward with that outcome.

Finally, prepaying your ticket may result in you paying more money to the court than necessary.  In the usual situation, the court costs will be reduced if the reckless driving charge is reduced but not dismissed.  Additionally, I am often able to convince judges to reduce or waive a portion of the fine.   This frequently occurs in courts of southern Virginia such as Brunswick, Greensville, Emporia, Sussex, and Prince George, Virginia.  However, if you have already paid the ticket, it is unlikely that the judge will be willing to refund any of the previously paid fine or additional court costs.  You should always consult an attorney prior to prepaying your Virginia reckless driving ticket.