Thousands of people every week in Virginia are charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor for speeding. It is called Reckless Driving by Speed, and if you are charged in Fairfax County, or in any jurisdiction for that matter, you should consider retaining a Reckless Driving Attorney Fairfax County. This is the first in a series of four articles about Reckless Driving by Speed. This article discusses speeds at only 20-25 mph over the limit. The second is for 25-35 mph over the limit. The third is for 35-45 mph over, and the final is for charges where the Defendant is going over 45 mph above the limit. The reason for the different articles is that as the speed gets greater, the threat of conviction, license suspension, and jail similarly becomes greater.
This article is about people who are just barely going over the threshold speed for Reckless Driving by Speed – for example, a person going 20-25 mph over the limit (e.g. 75-80 in a 55 mph zone).
The definition of Reckless by Speed is as follows:
- 46.2-862. Exceeding the speed limit.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
More simply stated, anyone who is going faster than 19 mph over the speed limit OR going faster than 80 mph, can be convicted of Reckless Driving. The penalty for Reckless is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, which carries with it up to one year in jail, up to a 6-month loss of license and up to a $2500 fine. Now that sounds scary, but an honest Reckless Driving Attorney Fairfax County will tell you that unless you have a horrible driving record, going 20-25 mph over the limit, may not require an attorney. I know this is hard to believe that a lawyer who practices in the area of Reckless Driving is telling you that you may not need his services. The truth is, if you have a great driving record, at speeds of only 20-25 mph over the limit (and going under 90 mph) you will probably be able to convince the Judge to drop the charge to speeding. In Fairfax County, the Prosecutor will not talk to the Defendants. They only talk to attorneys. So, if you go on your own without a lawyer, you will not be able to get a Plea Deal. You will have to make your presentation straight to the Judge. If you decide not to fight the charge and want to plead guilty, my tips are to “man up,” don’t make excuses and just be honest with the Judge. Also, be sure to highlight your great driving record by printing it out from the DMV web site prior to getting to Court.
With that said, for people who really have to get the charge reduced to a non-misdemeanor traffic infraction, such as Speeding, (e.g. you have a security clearance or are in a regulated profession where a Reckless Conviction will harm your career) and you want to play it safe, then hire an attorney. A Reckless Driving Attorney Fairfax County will be able to talk to the Prosecutor on the day of court. While nothing is ever guaranteed, with a great driving record and a speed of 20-25 mph over the limit, most Prosecutors will reduce the charge from Reckless to Speeding. That guarantees no Misdemeanor, no license suspension, and no jail.
There is one caveat to all of this. Even if you were only going 20-25 mph over the limit, if you were traveling in the high 80’s and certainly in the ’90s, get a lawyer. Judges treat speeding at speeds in the ’90s much more harshly.
In summary, if you are charged with Reckless Driving by Speed and your speed was between 20 mph to 25 mph over the limit (e.g. 75-80 in a 55 mph zone), and if you have a great driving record, you may be able to convince the Judge on your own to drop your charge to Speeding (a non-misdemeanor) traffic infraction. If you were going 90+, hire a lawyer regardless of any other facts. If you want to play it safe and do all you can to avoid a conviction of Reckless, then hire a Reckless Driving Attorney Fairfax County. With your great driving record, he/she will most likely be able to get your Reckless charged amended to Speeding.