Reckless driving charges and convictions can be severe in Virginia. Depending on how reckless, someone could receive a felony conviction on their record, which affects more parts of their lives than driving. Getting those charges reduced or dismissed can make an enormous difference. Here’s what you need to know and what you can do to help your lawyer succeed.
What Are Reckless Driving Charges?
The official Virginia code regarding reckless and improper driving says: “Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.”
That wording leaves a lot of latitude for a law enforcement officer to pull someone over. People think it’s only for things like driving incredibly fast or veering over the road, but someone could be charged for many other reasons.
Here are some reasons officers have for reckless driving charges:
- Speeding more than 20 m.p.h. Over the posted speed limit or faster than 80 m.p.h. no matter what the speed limit is
- Illegally passing or failing to yield when required
- Not using proper signals
- Driving alongside another vehicle on a one-lane road
- Illegal passing
What Are the Consequences for a Reckless Driving Conviction in Virginia?
In general, reckless driving is a misdemeanor that can lead to the following consequences:\
- Up to one year in jail and/or a $2,500 fine
- Six points on the driving record
- Up to six months of suspended driving privileges
However, the consequences can be worse. If someone was charged with reckless driving because they were caught racing on public roads, they could lose their license for up to two years and even have their vehicle seized.
If reckless driving was done while the driver had a suspended or revoked license or caused the death of someone, especially during racing, the charges change from a misdemeanor to a felony. That can lead to license suspensions of one to three years and a prison sentence of up to 20 years.
What Defenses Can Be Used to Have Reckless Driving Charges Reduced or Dismissed?
There are many since there are several reasons someone might be charged with reckless driving. For example, someone racing on private property (with the property owner’s permission, if applicable) may have their charges dropped as they weren’t on a public road.
Another factor could be that either the car’s speedometer wasn’t working properly or the device used by the law enforcement officer to track speed wasn’t calibrated properly. This would have to be proven.
If the driver charged with reckless driving because of illegal passing can prove that they only passed a motorcycle, bicycle, or moped, charges could be reduced or dropped.
What Can I Do to Help My Lawyer Get My Charges Reduced or Dismissed?
An experienced, knowledgeable attorney dealing with reckless driving charges understands the complexity of the related laws, so working with one is highly recommended. But there are things you can do to assist.
- If your driving record was clean prior to the reckless driving charges, contact the Virginia DMV to get a copy of your record as evidence for your case.
- If there are people who could act as character witnesses to testify on your behalf, provide their names and contact information to your attorney.
- If an emergency was involved (for example, a passenger in the car seemingly having a medical emergency for which the driver was attempting to rush to a hospital), provide details of that emergency (including hospital records to prove it existed).
- If the vehicle had defects the driver wasn’t aware of (for example, an improperly calibrated speedometer), and a car professional diagnoses and fixes the problem, provide the related paperwork as part of your case.
- If the driver voluntarily takes a driver education or improvement course and completes it, providing proof of that can be helpful. This is something to discuss with your attorney, who will have information about these types of courses.
- The location of the offense matters too. If it happened near a border with another county or city, it’s possible the law enforcement officer was out of their jurisdiction and didn’t have authority.
- Identity theft. There have been cases in Virginia where someone’s identity was stolen, and the thief was charged with reckless driving–but under the assumed identity. When the courts learned that the signature on the ticket didn’t match the actual named person and the officer testified that the person who was charged was not the person who showed up in court, the charges were dropped.
- If someone’s using GPS while driving, once they’ve been stopped, taking a photo of the GPS trip summary could possibly be used to show that the GPS reports a lower speed rate than the officer’s radar. This is tricky to prove but not impossible.
What Should I Do if I’ve Been Charged with a Felony and Am Worried about My Gun Rights?
Call Scott Nolan Criminal Defense as soon as possible at 703-688-9236 to request a free case evaluation. Reckless driving charges can be serious, so the sooner we can get to work on your defense, the better. Our team of experienced, knowledgeable criminal defense attorneys knows how to develop a case and will work with you to help you achieve the best possible outcomes.