Reckless driving in Virginia is a crime, and therefore many clients are concerned how a conviction may affect their employment. Also, because reckless driving is a crime, it should show up on an in depth background check, but this will vary depending on numerous factors (see below).
Reckless Driving is a Misdemeanor Not a Felony
It is important to remember that reckless driving in Virginia is just a misdemeanor, it is not a felony (with rare exceptions). For many employers, an employee with a felony conviction is grounds for termination. A misdemeanor conviction on the other hand does not always result in termination, but this will of course
depend on the specific employer.
Disclosure on a Job Application
When applying for a job after having been charged with or convicted of reckless driving it is very important to make sure to read the questions on the application carefully, and to be as honest and forthright as possible with your potential employer. A perceived falsehood on an application is often times judged worse than the conviction itself.
Many job applications ask whether the applicant has ever been charged with a crime, regardless of whether the applicant was convicted of the crime. Even if your reckless driving case is dismissed, you have to answer yes to this question. When the officer writes you the ticket for reckless driving that is a charge.
If the application merely wants to know whether you have been convicted of a crime there are generally two options. If you were convicted of reckless driving then you have to answer yes. If you were not convicted, and your charge was dismissed you may be able to answer yes. Keep in mind that if your reckless driving charge was dismissed due to completion of driving school or community service, this typically qualifies as a dismissal through a deferred disposition. Some employers would want to know this.
If the application only asks whether you were convicted of a felony, generally speaking you would be able to answer no, as reckless driving in Virginia is just a misdemeanor, it is not a felony (with rare exceptions).
It is important to carefully read the application, and when in doubt disclose that you were charged or convicted of reckless driving in Virginia.
Will Reckless Driving Show Up On A Background Check?
Another common question is whether a reckless driving conviction will show up on a background check.
If the background check performed looks to your driving record it will likely show up there, although not all background checks do look to driving records. Reckless driving in VA will stay on your driving record for 11 years. However, this only applies to driver's with Virginia licenses. If you are an out of state driver you need to look to your home state to see how the ticket will be applied there. Please see my page on this here.
Because reckless driving is a crime, you will have a criminal record as a result of a conviction. However, just what a "criminal record" is and what shows up on that record is not always as clear as many people think.
All reckless driving cases start in the General District court of the city or county your case is located in. The General District court clerk's office maintains their files for 10 years. So at a bare minimum there will be a record for the next 10 years of your conviction or charge. After 10 years most physical records in the general district court are destroyed (but not all), so technically, after ten years the physical copy of your record will be gone. However, cases in General District court also have an electronic record, and in my experience, in some cases, they do stay online past the 10 year mark. § 16.1-69.55.
Most reckless driving cases are not crimes that are required to be reported to the state central criminal records exchange. § 19.2-390. Typically, most cases do not result in the defendant being fingerprinted, but this can vary.
It is important to remember, however, that crimes, even misdemeanors, in Virginia cannot be expunged. So while it may be that there is no physical record of your case after many years have passed, legally speaking you will always have a criminal record as a result of a reckless driving conviction. It is important to disclose this on any job application, as discussed above.
The Effect of a Reckless Driving Conviction on Teachers
I often receive calls from teachers or students seeking to become teachers concerned that they will either lose their job as a result of a conviction or be unable to work as a teacher as a result of a conviction.
In my experience clients that are already teachers have not lost their jobs as a result of a conviction. This will of course vary from school to school. Certain private schools may have more strict policies with respect to this issue.