Virginia Reckless Driving Lawyers
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Many people are surprised to learn that a reckless driving in Fairfax County, VA is a class one misdemeanor, which means it can be punished by a fine of up to $2,500 and up to 12 months in jail. A provision of the Virginia traffic laws also allows the court to suspend a defendant’s driver’s license for a period ranging from 10 days to six months. In addition to the court’s penalties, reckless driving in Virginia can result in increased DMV points and sometimes increased insurance rates.
While the punishments are the same, reckless driving can be charged under many different sections of the Virginia code for a wide range of driving behaviors, including:
- Driving a vehicle with inadequate or improper brakes
- Passing on a curve or the crest of a hill
- Driving with an obstructed view to the front or sides
- Passing in an intersection or at a railroad crossing
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Failing to use turn signals
- Failing to yield the right of way
Reckless driving can also be charged for general driving behavior that is considered driving “recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.” Police will also occasionally charge a suspect with reckless driving when alcohol is involved but the case does not rise to the level of driving while intoxicated.
Of course, having a misdemeanor conviction, even for reckless driving, can be detrimental to employment or for obtaining or keeping a security clearance.
Reckless Driving – Speeding
Speeding is by far the most common reason for Fairfax County reckless driving charges. Speeding can result in a reckless driving charge for:
- Driving more than 20 MPH over the posted speed limit or
- Driving over 80 MPH regardless of the posted speed limit
If you are charged with reckless driving in Fairfax County because of your speed, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you were traveling at the alleged speed. Your attorney should explore ways to challenge the method used to measure your speed. There are a number of methods with which police officers measure speed, such as Radar and pace. Many officers use LIDAR, which is sometimes called a radar gun although it is not technically a form of radar. This equipment must be properly maintained and calibrated, as well as operated correctly by a trained individual. Your reckless driving attorney should explore any problems with the equipment and possibilities to challenge the validity of the speed results.
Preparing for Court
Before your first court date in the Fairfax County General District Court your attorney should review reckless driving defenses with you and help you prepare to raise them. There are several other steps your attorney should also ask you to take before court.
Over time the speedometer on a vehicle can stop accurately displaying the vehicle’s speed. This problem can be exacerbated by changes in tire size and pressure or previous repairs. A speedometer calibration may reveal that your faulty speedometer made you believe you were driving slower than you actually were. While this is not a legal defense to the charge, your attorney can use this information to negotiate with the Commonwealth before your trial.
Driver Improvement Classes
Your attorney may also recommend that you complete a driver improvement course. There are now several programs conveniently available online. However, if your case is more serious due to very high speed, dangerous driving behavior, or a bad driving record, your attorney should encourage you to complete a special program through Fairfax County or your local jurisdiction for reckless and aggressive driver improvement.
Taking these steps and others that your defense attorney recommends will put your attorney in a strong position to negotiate for the result you want without going to trial. Your attorney should fully review possible defenses with you so that you can develop a strategy for negotiations and make an informed decision about whether to take your case to trial.
Do I have to appear in court?
In some cases it is possible for an attorney to appear on behalf of the person charged with reckless driving in Fairfax County. You should contact an attorney as soon as possible to determine if this may be an option for you. Your attorney will need to seek permission from the court for you to not be present on your court date.
If the penalty for your reckless driving charge includes a license suspension, you may be eligible for a restricted license during that period of time. A restricted license will allow you to drive to work, school, doctor’s appointments, religious services, appointments and visitation for children, and several other important tasks. It is critical that you only drive exactly within the allowable terms of your restricted license. Your attorney should explain each section to you fully as well as what additional documentation you must carry with you when driving.
An attorney can advocate for your restricted license to allow you to keep your job and maintain your obligations during your suspension period. The application is very detailed and can be completed before court with your lawyer so that you are fully prepared to preserve your right to drive no matter what the result is in your case.
Choosing a Reckless Driving Lawyer
In all criminal and traffic cases it is important to choose an attorney who cares about what matters to you, is knowledgeable about your type of case, and will be honest with you about what you can expect. Your attorney should work hard for you and keep you informed and engaged in your case at all stages. You should work together to determine your goals for negotiations and what steps you can take before court to help your attorney negotiate for the result you want. If your case goes to trial, your attorney should be experienced in the courtroom and prepared to zealously argue your defenses.
While reckless driving is a misdemeanor which carries the possibility of jail time, only a small percentage of reckless driving cases are likely to result in jail. The likelihood of jail depends on many factors, including your driving record, the driving behavior in your case, and the jurisdiction’s local customs. In your initial consultation an attorney should tell you honestly if you are likely facing any chance of jail time and whether or not you are likely to have strong defenses to your charge. Even if you do not have strong legal defenses, your attorney should explain what steps you can take before court to help your attorney negotiate and get you the results you want.
Why do we offer free consultations?
When you have been charged with a crime, it is one of the most stressful moments of your life. Most people are just not sure what to expect and what steps they should take. In one conversation we can usually determine what the likely outcomes of your case are what you can do today to get the best outcome possible.
We got into this line of work because we wanted to help people. If we don’t think you need a lawyer, we will tell you so. We hope that you will still find our consultation helpful and will consider passing our name along to friends or family who find themselves facing a criminal or traffic charge in Northern Virginia some day.
If we do think you would benefit from having a lawyer, we will tell you so. We can tell you about our particular qualifications and experience, and we hope that you will choose us as your lawyers for your case.
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