An Overview of Reckless Driving in Virginia from a Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax, Va
Take it from a Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va – Virginia’s Reckless Driving laws are tough! The Reckless Driving laws are related to fast or dangerous driving. They are not merely a simple traffic infractions in Virginia. Reckless Driving is a crime that is classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Other Class 1 misdemeanors in Virginia include crimes like DWI, Assault & Battery, and Petit Larceny.
Note: Our lawyers practice in Fairfax, and all other counties of Virginia. We have offices in Fairfax, Arlington, and Staunton. We reference Fairfax, Va. in this article because it is the largest jurisdiction in Virginia with the most rigid procedures. Work done to Fairfax standards meets or exceeds the standards in every other jurisdiction in the Commonwealth, so it is common to use it as a benchmark.
Retaining a Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va is a good idea because the maximum penalty for a Class 1 misdemeanor is up to 12 months in jail and fines up to $2,500. In addition, the court can suspend one’s driver’s license for up to 6 months. Don’t panic, though. Rarely do people get jail for most cases of Reckless Driving. The larger concern is the criminal record for one who has a clean criminal record and wants to maintain that status.
If you receive a citation for Reckless Driving in Virginia, in most cases you will be required to appear in court. There is no option of prepayment of fines by mail, so you must appear in Court. However, in certain jurisdictions, if you retain a Reckless Driving lawyer, there are limited circumstances when an attorney might be able to appear in court on your behalf.
The most common form of Reckless Driving is recklessness by high speed.
Virginia Code §46.2-862 says that a person is guilty of reckless driving if he or she (1) exceeds the speed limit by twenty miles per hour or more or, (2) exceeds 80 miles per hour regardless of the speed limit. Under this law, recklessness is defined by speed alone. Some Judges have an unwritten rule that, even for people with great driving records, the punishment is one day in jail for every mile per hour over 90, and will suspend licenses for driving over 80 mph. Whether you were in control of the vehicle and operating in an otherwise safe manner is not defense. A Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va is needed so that you know what judges to avoid with certain arguments or, if you can’t avoid them, what you can do to convince them to make an exception to their draconian rule.
Another commonly alleged form of Reckless Driving involves traffic accidents. Virginia Code § 46.2-853 says that one is guilty of reckless driving by driving a vehicle under improper control. Police Officers often make this allegation at the accident scene merely because there has been a collision, despite limited or even no evidence that a crime has been committed. In many instances, a traffic accident is not the result of any criminal behavior whatsoever. For example, an experienced Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va will argue that well established Virginia case law states that the mere happening of an accident does not on its own prove Reckless Driving.
A third common form of Reckless Driving falls under Virginia Code §46.2-852. This is commonly referred to as “general” Reckless Driving. This is driving in any manner that endangers life, limb, or property of any person. That is a subjective standard employed by the charging police officer. The ultimate question of whether certain driving behavior rises to that threshold is one for which a Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va can be invaluable.
A Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va can assess the evidence against you, identify potential defenses, and present those issues to a Prosecutor in plea negotiations or in a trial before a judge in the General District Court. This would include the presentation of mitigation to the court. That could include information about the circumstances of the allegation and information about you that might serve to lessen any punishment. For example, if you have a good past driving record, have taken a driver safety course, issues with your vehicle, etc. By the way, there are good safe driving courses and there are bad ones. A good Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va will be able to direct you to the best classes.
In Virginia, the local prosecutor is called a Commonwealth’s Attorney. In most jurisdictions in Virginia, there is also an opportunity to negotiate, or “plea bargain”, with the prosecutor. That would include consideration of alternative lesser charges. For example, an experienced Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va can help lower your Reckless Driving crime charge to a mere traffic infraction such as speeding 19 mph over, or even Improper Driving, which is the most minor moving violation that exists in the Code. One important thing to note is that in many jurisdictions, the Commonwealth’s Attorney will only speak to a Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va. As a Defendant in these jurisdictions, you can’t even talk to the Prosecutor, so you have no ability to get a plea bargain to a lesser charge.
If you have been convicted of Reckless Driving, or any offense in the General District Court, one has10 days during which he or she may elect to appeal the result. In Virginia, one is guaranteed a new trial under that circumstance. An appeal will be heard in higher court called the Circuit Court. At that stage, you even have the right to have your case heard by a jury of your peers. A Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va would serve much the same role at the appeal stage, but be advised that the Circuit Court has a different set of rules and procedures than the General District Court.
When considering a Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va, keep in mind what you have at stake. A Reckless Driving conviction is a criminal conviction that can have future repercussions in matters like school and job applications, or security clearance evaluations. The Department of Motor Vehicles, whether in Virginia or elsewhere, can impose demerit points for a Reckless Driving conviction that can be the basis of license revocation regardless of the judgement of any local court. Of course, a conviction can impact insurance rates for years.
A Reckless Driving ticket brings the risk of a criminal conviction and all that goes along with it –fines, potential license suspension, and even jail in some cases. A Reckless Driving lawyer Fairfax, Va will work to keep your driving record free from a criminal conviction, will work to protect your liberty that can be compromised by a jail sentence, will work to protect the freedom that comes with your driver’s license, and will work to protect your wallet by mitigating the impact of fines and insurance rate increases.