Does Reckless Driving in Virginia Show up on a Background Check?

One of the big concerns that many of my clients have regarding their reckless driving in Virginia ticket is whether or not it will show up on a background check. Being near the Washington, D.C., area, we work with many clients who have security clearances for the military and government positions. It’s critical for these clients to maintain their security clearance. Therefore, they want to talk with an attorney who has experience dealing with these issues and can hopefully avoid a misdemeanor conviction.

The fundamental question is what effect a reckless driving conviction would have on a background check. That question unfortunately, is difficulty to answer.

Virginia reckless driving is a class 1 misdemeanor. It’s very clear that if you’re charged with reckless driving in Virginia, even solely based on speed, it is a class 1 misdemeanor. It’s kind of crazy that that is the same level of offense as DUI, possession of marijuana, assault and battery, and many other crimes. If you’re found guilty of reckless driving, what will happen to that conviction; will it be reported anywhere?

The first thing to know is that most jobs and security clearance applications ask about crimes on the application. Usually you’re going to be asked have you been convicted of any crime, sometimes they’ll ask specifically about felonies and/or misdemeanors. This is where you must be careful.

I always tell people that it’s better to have been a speeder a while ago than to be a liar today. You need to read all questions extremely carefully and answer perfectly honestly, because even if there is a reckless driving conviction for speed in your past, a lot of places might not care about it. But what they really will care about is if you lie or try to hide something on the application.

If you’re convicted of reckless driving in Virginia and you’re asked about prior criminal convictions, you need to say “yes”. And you’d want to promptly explain that it was just reckless driving. But if you’re asked have you ever been found guilty of a felony, then assuming you have no felonies in your background, you’d be able to say no, because reckless driving is only a misdemeanor. It is a crime but it’s not on the level of a felony, and some jobs don’t ask about misdemeanors.

Unfortunately, it’s unclear whether or not the reckless driving conviction will show up on your actual background check. It depends upon how deep and how comprehensive the check is. If the employer checks your Virginia driving record, for example, within 11 years of getting the conviction, they’re going to see the reckless driving conviction on there.

The other place that they will be able to find the reckless driving conviction is of course with the court system. In Virginia, the fact that someone is convicted of a crime is a matter of public record. It’s in the court records and it’s going to be there for a long, long time. If someone does a deep enough background check, they would be able to find those court records that show the reckless driving conviction in your case. That’s important for you to know, and it’s why I suggest that you should always over-disclose.

Photo by: Scott Ingram Photography

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