Do I have to come to court if I get a reckless driving ticket?
Actually, when you get charged with reckless driving the document that the officer gives you is called a summons, not a ticker. A summons is given in place of placing you under arrest. When you sign the summons, you're promising to appear in court. So the answer to the question whether you need to come to court if you get a reckless driving ticket is yes. That's because technically, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. That means if you're convicted of reckless driving you can go to jail for up to 12 months. However, in practice, you're unlikely to go to jail for reckless driving unless you caused a serious accident or were driving over 90 miles per hour.
There's an important exception to the rule that you have to appear in court for a reckless driving ticket. You can often hire an attorney to appear in court on your behalf. If you hire an attorney, you might not have to appear in court. Your attorney will know whether you should appear in court, but there are some general guidelines:
- If you were driving over 90 miles per hour and you're a resident of Virginia, there's a good chance you'll need to appear in court. Some courts only require you to appear at 95+ mph, but some courts require your appearance if you're clocked at 90+ mph.
- If you were involved in a serious car accident and someone was injured. If someone was injured in a car accident and you were charged with reckless driving, there's a good chance you'll have to appear in court.
- If you've been convicted of reckless driving before, there's a good chance that you'll need to come to court.
What happens if I don't show up to court for my reckless driving ticket?
If you don't show up to court for your reckless driving ticket, the judge might issue a bench warrant, or a capias. A bench warrant or capias means that if you come into contact with law enforcement, you could be arrested. So if you're pulled over for a speeding ticket and the officer runs your information through the national database, he will probably see that you've got an outstanding warrant for your arrest. Once he sees that, he can arrest you and hold you in jail until a judge or magistrate gives you a bond or until Virginia notifies the officer that they do not want to extradite you.
Another thing that could happen is, you could be tried in your absence. If the judge doesn't issue a bench warrant, he might try you in your absence. If you're tried in your absence, it's almost a given that you'll be convicted. You'll have to pay a fine and court costs. It's important to note that you will probably only have 30 days to pay the fines and court costs. After 30 days, if you haven't paid your fines or court costs, you're license could be suspended.
Should I sign the summons?
A summons has a place for you to sign at the bottom where you promise that you'll appear in court. If you refuse to sign the bottom of the summons, the officer will probably arrest you and bring you in front of a magistrate. The magistrate will then decide how much bail you have to post in order to be released. For that reason, it's usually a good idea to sign the summons at the side of the road. Remember, it's not an admission of guilty. It's just a way for the officer to ensure that you'll come to court.
If you get charged with reckless driving, you should talk to an attorney. A conviction for reckless driving is a criminal offense and will result in a permanent criminal record.