What to Expect When You Go to Fairfax County Court for A Reckless Driving

What to Expect When You Go to Fairfax County Court for A Reckless Driving

What to Expect When You Go to Fairfax County Court for A Reckless DrivingIf you are reading this, you most likely have a reckless driving lawyer in Fairfax, Virginia. Reckless Driving charges are, unfortunately, quite common. The most common type of Reckless Driving charge is for speeding. As other articles point out, anyone who travels at greater than 20 mph over the speed limit OR anyone who is traveling greater than 80 mph can be found guilty of Reckless Driving. So, if the speed limit is 70 and you are going 81 mph, even though you are only going 11 mph over the speed limit, you could be charged with Reckless! It seems outrageous to get a criminal Class 1 Misdemeanor conviction for going 11 mph over the limit, but that is the law in Virginia!

Prior to going to court, be sure to dress well. (e.g. no less than a collared shirt and long pants (not jeans) for guys and/or a suit and tie.)  

In Fairfax County, all Traffic Court cases start at 9:30 a.m. The parking garage is at least two city blocks away, so I suggest that you get to the parking lot by 8:30 a.m. That will give you time to walk to the Court, go through security and then get to your courtroom. Once you go through security, the Traffic Courtrooms are at the opposite side of the building on the first floor. Just walk to that side of the Court. The docket (the listing of whose case is in which courtroom) is on tv screens. All names are listed alphabetically. Your name will appear, and by your name, it will say something like “1A,” “1B,” … “1K” or possibly “2G.”  The number is the floor and the letter is the courtroom. 

The courtroom doors open up at 9:15 a.m. Prior to that, you wait in the hall or, if you are very early, you can go to the cafeteria on the basement level. Just be sure to be in your seat by 9:30 a.m. Court moves fast, so if you miss your name, you will be found guilty in your absence. Many judges won’t retry your case at the end of the docket, so you will have to appeal the case if you arrived late and missed your name.

If you have an attorney, you do not need to sit in the courtroom. You can stay in the hallway, hang out in the atrium on the first floor or go to the cafeteria. When your lawyer has information and needs to speak with you, he/she will either come get you or possibly text you to meet with him/her. But make sure your lawyer is there and has checked in with the Court prior to 9:30 a.m. Lots of lawyers, not me of course, show up late and leave their clients fending for themselves until the attorney arrives.

Speaking of texting, as of a few years ago, Fairfax Court changed its policy on cell phones. You can bring them in, but you cannot take pictures nor use any video chat services, such as “Facetime.”  Also, when you go into the courtroom, make sure your phone is OFF. If it rings, the Bailiff will seize it and not return it until the very end of the day.

If your Reckless charge is one of those that are not too serious (e.g. you were only going 22 mph over the limit and have a great driving record), and you decide to represent yourself, here is what happens.  The judge goes through the docket by officer with the least number of cases to the officer with the most cases. Each officer’s cases are heard in alphabetical order. When your case is called, you will announce “guilty,” “no contest,” or “not guilty.”  If you are pleading “guilty” or “no contest” the judge will take your case up immediately. He/she will likely find you guilty (although I have seen some people in less serious cases talk their way into getting the Judge to lower the charge to Speeding in Reckless Driving by Speed cases, or Improper Driving in Reckless Driving General and Accident cases.)  The judge will sentence you with any combination of a fine (up to $2,500, but rarely over $500), a license suspension (up to six months), and jail (up to a year, but rarely more than a few days to over 30 days for very high speed Reckless Driving charges.) After you are sentenced, you go to the end of the hallway to pay your fine and court costs.

If you have a Reckless Driving Lawyer Fairfax County Virginia, the lawyer will usually have negotiated a plea agreement. If you accept the plea agreement, you will walk to the lectern with your lawyer and the Judge will almost always enter the case as recommended by the Plea Agreement. It is rare for a Judge to reject a plea agreement, but it happens. If you don’t like the Plea Agreement that your lawyer has negotiated, then you can go to trial or see if you can get the case continued to another date and hopefully get a more reasonable Prosecutor. If you go to trial, it will be that morning. Trials usually start around the 11:30 a.m. time frame.

There you have it. Everything you need to know about Traffic Court in Fairfax County. Hope this helps you know how your day will go when you have a Reckless Driving charge in Fairfax County Virginia. Contact the office of Dave Albo-Attorney for more information.

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