Virginia has one of the harshest driving laws in the United States. A ticket for reckless driving is not as simple as most other traffic offenses; it is more serious and carries very harsh penalties. The laws governing it are also complex and make it challenging for accused persons to navigate independently.
Virginia Code 46.2-862 defines reckless driving and its consequences. If your actions don’t meet the legal definition of the crime, the judge might not convict you. A Fairfax criminal defense attorney can enhance your understanding of the charges against you and their legal bearing.
Is Reckless Driving Simply Speeding?
While speeding offenses are the most common form of reckless driving in Virginia, it is not the only form of the crime. You might be charged for this offense if you:
- Drive too fast for the conditions
- Drive with an obstructed view
- Refuse to give an emergency vehicle right of way
- Pass a stopped school bus
- Drive a faulty vehicle
- Fail to signal appropriately
- Drag racing
- Drive in an area that’s under construction or a parking lot
- Pass another vehicle at a railway crossing
- Drive abreast in the same lane with another vehicle
- Pass other two vehicles abreast on a two-lane road
- Pass another vehicle on a curve
- Drive with improper or inadequate breaks
- Drive and cause an accident
Basically, any action that endangers property, limbs, or life can be considered recklessness in Virginia. For speeding, driving above 85mph or exceeding a specific road’s speed limit by 20mph or more is a criminal offense.
Is Reckless Driving a Serious Crime in Virginia?
Driving recklessly is classified in the same category as sexual battery, trespass, assault, and battery, and driving drunk for the first and second time. Thus, it is a serious Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia. Possible penalties include:
- License suspension for up to six months
- As much as 12 months in active or suspended jail
- A maximum of $2,500 in fines
- Demerit points
- Restricted license
Whether you drive past the speed limit by a few miles or significantly, this criminal charge could be added to your record. A Fairfax reckless driving attorney can tell you how serious your specific charge is and advise on ways to improve the outcomes.
What Aggravates a Reckless Driving Charge in Virginia?
Judges normally have the discretion to award the maximum possible or the least possible penalties for reckless driving. They can also decide whether to give you a jail sentence or defer it to a later date. It is all dependent on:
- Whether there were children in the car
- Your prior driving history
- The alleged speed
- The magnitude of the damage done
If the recklessness results in loss of life, the offense might not be considered a misdemeanor anymore. It can be upgraded to a felony and be penalized with several years in jail. Ensure that you have an attorney who can convince the judge to award the least possible penalties.
Must I Show Up in Court if Charged With Reckless Driving?
When the police issue you a ticket for driving recklessly in Virginia, they might indicate a date for the hearing. Accused persons don’t need to attend the court session. If you are held up at work or are in another state, a Fairfax reckless driving attorney can represent you.
Failure to show up in person or through an attorney can have dire consequences. You might get a guilty verdict without a fair chance to defend yourself. And if a jail sentence is awarded, a warrant of arrest might be issued against you.
What is the Best Defense Approach for These Charges?
A good defense is a great way to escape the detrimental consequences of reckless driving. A conviction can give you difficulties in finding a job and housing and affect your educational prospects. A good defense can earn you a dismissal or reduced charges. You can defend yourself on the following grounds:
- Legitimate emergency
- Radar calibration issues
- Speedometer reading incorrectly
- Good driving record
Successfully defending oneself needs time and adequate preparation. Some of the activities you can do to prepare for your case include:
- Completing some community service
- Taking a driver education class
- Having your speedometer calibrated
- Getting a copy of your driving record
Depending on your case, a strategic move can convince the judge to dismiss the case completely. For instance, a driving course can significantly impact your case in Virginia. Simply seek the legal counsel of a seasoned Fairfax reckless driving attorney, and they could advise you on what to do.
When Should One Reach Out to an Attorney?
The time you reach out to a Fairfax reckless driving attorney determines the options available to you. But the advantage of consulting with a reckless driving lawyer early is that they can get the charges reduced if they aren’t serious. Reduced charges have the advantage of:
- Fewer DMV points against your driving license
- Fewer amounts of fines
- The criminal charge off your records
A reckless driving charge, for instance, can be reduced to a non-moving infraction if there were no physical injuries and your driving speed was low. And if the attorney investigates and discovers issues with the charge sheet or the speed-testing equipment, they can negotiate for a dismissal.
It is not a lost course if you have already gone through the criminal justice system in Virginia. If you think that the judge convicted you unfairly, you can speak to a legal expert about an appeal or re-hearing of the case.
An Attorney Fighting to Get Your Life Back
Waiting until it’s too late to mount a strong defense is not advisable. Understanding reckless driving and taking proactive steps to keep your record clean or minimize the consequences of the charges is critical.
Make sure that you work with an attorney with a proven track record of fighting criminal charges. Our lawyers are experienced and have been successfully representing clients in similar situations. Speak to us today if you need legal help in Fairfax, VA.