College Students, Reckless Driving, and Student Legal Issues

college-students-legal-problemIt’s common for college students to face a number of legal issues during their time in school. Around Hampton Roads there are a large number colleges and universities including William & Mary, Old Dominion University, Norfolk State University, Eastern Virginia Medical School, Hampton University, and Christopher Newport University among others. On each campus are thousands of young energetic minds, and every year some will get caught up in a legal issue.  This can be stressful for the college student and the parents as well.  Some students prefer to handle the issue themselves — never telling their parents about it.  Others, involve their parents right from the start.  Either way, there are a set of legal issues that are extremely common to college students.  If you (or your son or daughter) find yourself mixed up in one or more of these issues, you are not alone.

College Students and Virginia Reckless Driving Tickets

Reckless Driving is tricky.  You can get a Reckless Driving ticket for speeding. There are actually more than a dozen different laws in Virginia under which an officer could write a ticket for “Reckless Driving”.  By far the most common Reckless Driving ticket that College Students get is Reckless Driving By Speed, which is charged under VA Code § 46.2-862.  This statute says that when someone drives 20 mph over the posted speed limit, or drives faster than 80 mph no matter what the speed limit is, he is guilty of Reckless Driving. There are several other statutes and situations that qualify for a Reckless Driving charge as well.

Here is what you must know about Reckless Driving in Virginia:  It is not a Traffic Offense, it is a Crime.

Reckless Driving is a misdemeanor crime in Virginia and, if convicted, becomes a part of a College Student’s criminal record, not just their driver’s record.  It can be punished by up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Furthermore, a conviction will usually result in higher car insurance rates, and can affect licensing and career opportunities in certain fields. College students should not face this charge without a lawyer.  A Virginia Lawyer who works with college students and parents of college students understands the unique concerns regarding insurance and future career planning.  I can help prevent a conviction for a crime, and in many cases can negotiate an outcome that preserves the most important goals for the college student and his or her family.  Sometimes we can get the charge dismissed entirely, other times we can get it reduced to a traffic infraction instead of a misdemeanor crime, which can have a major positive effect on insurance and leaves the Student’s criminal record clear.

Virginia College Students and Underage Alcohol Offenses

College students throughout Hampton Roads, Virginia also frequently face charges for the Underage Possession, Consumption or Purchase of Alcohol. In Virginia, it is illegal for a person under the age of 21 to possess, consume, or purchase alcohol under Virginia Code § 4.1-305. This is also a misdemeanor crime, and can be punished by one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. f you are found guilty and convicted of underage possession of alcohol, there is a mandatory minimum fine of $500 or 50 hours of community service as a condition of probation supervision. If you are age 18 or older, your license will be suspended for at least six months but not more than a year.

The only way to keep such an offense off  your record is to qualify for “First Offender Status” program, which has several requirements you must meet. Again, College students facing these charges should not walk through this process alone, but need qualified legal counsel.

College Students may face a variety of legal issues during their studies.  If you’ve found yourself there, you can’t afford to go it alone.  Contact me and let’s talk about your legal challenge and how I might be able to help you through it.  The phone call is completely free and without obligation.