The state of Virginia has some of the toughest traffic laws in the nation, and reckless driving is among the most common traffic violations in the state. But what does it really mean to be charged with reckless driving, and do you really need an attorney to represent you if you are facing charges? Our attorneys explain how reckless driving charges are handled in Virginia and why getting the help of an attorney is crucial for your case.
What Is Considered Reckless Driving in Virginia?
In Virginia, reckless driving is a criminal offense. The most common type of reckless driving offense is excessive speeding, but other behaviors such as aggressive driving, weaving through traffic, passing a school bus while it is stopped and displaying a “stop” sign, street racing, and failing to yield to an emergency vehicle with flashing lights are just some of the examples of actions that can result in a reckless driving charge.
Reckless driving can sometimes be caused by a distracted driver. For example, even if you did not mean to break the traffic laws and did not realize you failed to stop for a school bus because you were distracted talking on your cell phone, you could still be charged with reckless driving. Unfortunately, this is a significantly more serious charge than a moving violation, which means simply paying for a traffic ticket won’t make it go away, so it’s important to understand your charges and the penalties you may be facing.
What Are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?
The state of Virginia considers reckless driving to be a Class I misdemeanor. The penalties for a Class I misdemeanor can include up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500.00, or both. In addition, a driver convicted of reckless driving may face additional administrative penalties, such as a six-month license suspension and up to six demerit points added to their driving record.
A conviction may also have other consequences, such as an astronomical increase in car insurance rates. Because reckless driving is a misdemeanor, a conviction means the driver will have a criminal record, which may affect them in the future and limit their opportunities to secure employment, housing, education, and any other situations that require passing a background check.
How Can You Defend Yourself Against Reckless Driving Charges?
There are a few different defense strategies that can be used in a reckless driving case. One common defense strategy is to argue that the defendant did not intend to act with reckless disregard for public safety. For example, if a driver was speeding because they had an emergency (such as having to rush someone to the hospital), the defendant can claim they had a valid reason for speeding and did not intend to threaten the safety of others.
Another possible defense strategy is to argue that the driver was mistakenly identified as the one who committed the reckless driving offense. For instance, if a police officer misidentified a driver based on their resemblance to someone else, the driver may be able to argue that they were not the one who acted recklessly or that they were not the one who was operating the vehicle at the time the incident occurred. Other common defense strategies may include claiming that the driver was simply distracted rather than reckless or that the police officer’s radar equipment was faulty and the defendant was not speeding. Each reckless driving case is unique, and these defense strategies may not be applicable to every case. It is crucial to consult a reckless driving defense lawyer to understand the defense strategies that may work for you.
Do I Really Need to Hire a Reckless Driving Defense Attorney for My Case?
As mentioned above, reckless driving is a Class I misdemeanor punishable by fines, jail time, and a license suspension. That means you are likely looking at a criminal conviction – in spite of a misdemeanor being the least serious type of criminal offense, it can still have lasting consequences in your future as it is no ordinary traffic violation.
You do have the right to represent yourself in a reckless driving case, but it is hardly ever a good idea to do so. When you choose to act as your own attorney, you may make mistakes that can negatively impact your case and reduce your chances of getting a positive outcome. You may also be misled by the state and end up accepting a plea bargain deal that is not in your best interest. An attorney has the knowledge of the laws affecting your case and has experience dealing with the criminal justice system, meaning they are well-equipped to help you navigate your case, protect your best interests, and provide you with sound legal advice to assist you in making the right decisions for your case.
An attorney can question every aspect of the prosecution’s case against you and employ the right defense strategies to try to get your charges dropped or reduced. Your attorney may also be able to negotiate a less serious penalty on your behalf, such as probation and community service, instead of jail time. A reckless driving charge is not a matter to be taken lightly, but by working with a skilled reckless driving attorney, you can magnify your chances of securing a positive result for your case.
If you are facing reckless driving charges in Virginia, the attorneys at The Law Office of Scott C. Nolan, PLLC, can help. Contact us at 703-688-9236 and request an initial consultation to discuss your case.