If you have chosen not to hire an experienced reckless driving lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia, and you want to try and “do it yourself,” here are some things you can do to help your case. (Remember, going to Court without a lawyer is like me going to your job and trying to figure out what you do every day. I don’t think anyone should “wing it” when they have been charged with a Class 1 Misdemeanor of Reckless Driving. But there is no law that says you have to have an attorney, and some people want to give it a shot on their own.)
- Get your speedometer calibrated. For Reckless Driving by Speed, this should be routinely done. Just because your car is new, does not mean that the speedometer is accurate. For example, did you get larger wheels than standard wheels? If so, the dealership may not have adjusted your speedometer to account for the fact that one revolution of the larger tire travels a greater distance than the standard tires. This is not a “defense.” Just because your speedometer is off does not mean you were not speeding. What it means is that you did not THINK you were going that fast. If your case is for speeding and your speed was barely over the threshold for Reckless Driving, then showing the Judge that your speedometer is 4 mph off, will enable you to say “I thought I was going 74, but unfortunately, I was actually going over the Reckless Driving threshold at 78 in a 55 mph. Most Judges will take this into consideration and reduce your case to speeding 74 in a 55 mph. But don’t make the mistake so many people do. They find out that their speedometer is off and try to use it as an excuse for going way too fast (e.g. 88 in a 55). This will never work with a Judge. “Your honor, I was going 88 but I thought I was going 84 mph in a 55 mph zone.” At high speeds, even with a faulty speedometer, you really should hire a lawyer because you face jail and a license suspension. Finally, many non-represented people show up to Court with a calibration showing the speedometer was off, BUT THEY DON’T ALSO BRING THE RECEIPT FOR THE REPAIR!!!! When I see that, I know “should have hired a lawyer!”
- While it is rare to be able to win a Reckless Driving case with technical defenses to the Radar gun or the Laser (LIDAR). If you are completely confident that you were not going that fast, and cannot afford both a lawyer and an expert witness, hire the expert witness. He/she can explain things like how large signs or trucks can throw off radar readings, or how the way that an Officer tracks LIDAR by moving it from one part of the car to the other can throw off readings.
- Let’s face it, if you were going significantly over the Reckless threshold speed, winning is going to be tough. So, prepare some mitigating evidence for your Reckless Driving case. If you have a good driving record, then print it out from your home state’s DMV site. If your license in Virginia is fairly new and you had a good record where you previously lived, see if you can get that State’s DMV report.
- Take an in-person safe driving course. I said “in-person” for a reason, because everyone knows that the on-line courses are not as good as the in-person courses. Also, it is a good idea to do a course that does NOT give you positive DMV points. I got burned once when I showed a Prosecutor my client’s safe driving course certificate, and the Prosecutor said, “I am not dropping this to speeding? He already got a break by getting 5 positive DMV points!”
- For Reckless Driving General, (the type of Reckless where the defendant is driving in a gross, wonton and willful manner that is dangerous to life, limb or property) letters of recommendation from employers, colleagues, people with whom you do community service, etc. can help show the Judge that your behavior was out of character, and thus, jail is not necessary. These are practically useless for other types of Reckless. Especially Speeding. Most Judges with say or think, “What does the fact that you are normally a good guy have to do with the fact that you were driving 88 mph?”
- For high speed cases and serious Reckless General cases, community service can help mitigate punishments. It won’t usually get you off the charge, but it will show that “I know I put other citizens in our community in peril, and I wanted to make amends and give back to the community.” If your case is serious, try to get at least 50 hours of community service done at a place that a Judge would recognize as a community service (e.g. food bank, homeless shelter, etc.). Bring a letter from the community service organization that you completed the hours.
Now, with all this said, the lawyer in me says to be very careful about going to court without a lawyer! A Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax VA from the office of Dave Albo – Attorney can be extremely helpful in getting your charge dismissed (if there are technical defenses such as the aforementioned radar and LIDAR issues); get your Reckless Driving charge lowered from the Class 1 Misdemeanor of Reckless Driving to a simple Traffic Infraction, such as Speeding; or when winning or a reduction is impossible, to keep you out of jail and keep your license!