Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer
In Virginia, reckless driving is no mere traffic ticket. Instead, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor which thereby makes it a criminal offense. As such, it is punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500. Additionally, a reckless driving conviction adds six DMV demerit points to your driving record. Because reckless driving is considered to be a criminal charge, you will want to hire a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer to help you fight these charges.
What is Reckless Driving?
Generally speaking, reckless driving is defined as driving a vehicle in a manner which endangers the lives or property of others. But as any Fairfax reckless driving lawyer can tell you, the greatest difficulty in reckless driving cases sometimes stems from the ambiguity of precisely what actions are considered to be dangerous. This ambiguity is an outgrowth of not only the imprecise definition of reckless driving, but of the wide latitude of discretion afforded to law enforcement in determining whether someone’s actions actually constitute reckless driving. Indeed, whether someone’s driving is considered “reckless” almost entirely depends on the area in which they are pulled over and the officer who pulled them over.
Despite the elusiveness or ambiguity of its definition, a few actions are categorically considered to be “reckless” under Virginia Code § 46.2-852 including:
- Driving 20 mph over the speed limit or driving over 80 mph;
- Drag racing;
- Rapidly weaving through traffic; and
- Failing to yield to an emergency vehicle.
For a more in-depth discussion on the different ways a person can be charged with reckless driving, and the possible defenses to each form of reckless driving, see the section below entitled “Defenses to Reckless Driving in Virginia.”
How a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer Can Help
Generally, when someone is ticketed for a traffic offense, they may simply pay the ticket without having to appear in court. With reckless driving, however, you are being charged with a misdemeanor criminal offense. As such, your most prudent move would be to consult with a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer as soon as possible. Upon contacting a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, they will take a few of the following steps to help fight the charges:
- They will obtain your driving record to determine your driving history. If your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer determines that your driving history is relatively clean, a better argument can be made to the prosecutor that charging you with a criminal offense for an uncharacteristic mistake would not be in anyone’s best interests;
- Your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer may ask you to enroll in a driving improvement course as a precautionary measure to not only mitigate the potential points on your license, but to show the prosecutor and the court that you are taking active measures to atone for your mistake;
- Your attorney may also suggest that you have your car checked by a mechanic to determine if your speedometer is inaccurate. Any Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will tell you that if your speedometer was even slightly inaccurate, it could very well turn a criminal reckless driving charge into a simple, minor traffic infraction.
- Finally, your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will seek to obtain the calibration records for the radar gun that measured your speed. If the device had not been calibrated recently or had been calibrated incorrectly, that alone is grounds for the court to dismiss the reckless driving charge.
Consequences of a Reckless Driving Conviction
In the section above, I briefly mentioned that a reckless driving conviction is a Class 1 misdemeanor which carries a punishment of up to one year in jail. The reality is that people are almost never sentenced to more than a few, if any, days in jail. However, Virginia has demonstrated an unabashed commitment to punishing those who violate its reckless driving laws. Indeed, just a few years ago, Washington National’s outfielder Jayson Werth was sentenced to 5 days in jail for reckless driving.
Although a short jail sentence is likely the stiffest penalty a person will receive after being convicted for a common reckless driving charge, it is important to hire a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer to not only keep you out of jail, but to prevent a conviction from remaining on your record. What many people do not realize is that a reckless driving conviction can remain on your record for 11 years. Likewise, depending on the conduct which formed the basis for the reckless driving charge, you could have your license suspended from anywhere between 10 days and three years. During that time, a reckless driving conviction and license suspension may very well interfere with your ability to get a good job or to receive a reasonable rate for motorist insurance. And the younger a person is, the more likely it is that the conviction will cause these sorts of problems. To be sure, there have even been cases where a person was denied a license to practice law in Virginia because of their driving record.
Whether you facing serious charges like reckless driving or DUI, or you merely received a traffic ticket or a citation for driving with a suspended license, you can count on the Law Offices of Randall Sousa to provide you with aggressive, affordable, and highly skilled defense.
Defenses to Reckless Driving in Virginia
In this section, you will find an exhaustive list of all the ways a person can be charged with reckless driving in Virginia, as well as some of the ways your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer can help you avoid a conviction.
People speed for a variety of reasons – they may be late to an appointment, or are tired after a long day, or perhaps they are just impatient by nature. Whatever the case may be, if you drive every day, you have broken the speed limit at one time or another. But in Virginia, if you drive above 80 mph, you can be charged with reckless driving. If this happens, you are going to want to call a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer with the skills to help you avoid a criminal conviction for what should be nothing more than a speeding ticket.
Defenses to Speeding
Your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer can assert a number of possible defenses which are mostly predicated on questioning the accuracy of the tactics or methods used to clock your speed. A few brief examples of the defenses your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer can use include:
Radar Inaccuracy: Sometimes, a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer may be able to call the radar readings into question if they are able to find a possibility of improper calibration.
Speedometer Malfunction: It is not entirely unlikely that a vehicle speedometer is inaccurate or malfunctioning. Your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer may be able to help you find a certified mechanic who will determine whether your speedometer was improperly calibrated or suffered a malfunction.
Drag Racing (Virginia Code § 46.2-865)
Charges of reckless driving on account of drag racing are taken extremely seriously. Pursuant to Virginia Code § 46.2-865, it is a crime to engage in racing while on a public road or highway, school, church, business, or recreational area. If you are charged with this form of reckless driving, you are going to want to hire a reputable Fairfax reckless driving lawyer who can help you avoid a possible 6-month license suspension and/or jail time.
Drag Racing Reckless Driving May be Charged as a Felony
If a person is injured because of someone’s reckless driving, that person will face a Class 6 felony punishable by one to 5 years in prison and a fine of up to $2,500. If someone dies, then the penalty is one to 20 years in prison with a mandatory minimum of one year. If you are convicted of felony reckless driving, you face a driver’s license suspension for one to three years. Worst of all, if convicted, your car will be seized and sold.
Defenses to Drag Racing
There are myriad defenses your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer can assert to help you obtain the best outcome possible in your reckless driving case.
One very common defense is that there must be two people involved in the race. If you pull up to a stop light and start revving your engine at the old man driving the Ferrari next to you, and you speed off when the light turns green, but the other driver does not partake in racing you, then you cannot be charged with this form of reckless driver. Drag racing requires a race. Two or more people must have been racing, but if one party was not racing, there can be no conviction.
Most drag racing allegations are predicated solely on eyewitness accounts. As such, you will want to hire a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer who can help pinpoint inconsistencies of eyewitness accounts and call into question any adverse witness’ ability to remember.
Accidents / Failing to Maintain Control (Virginia Code § 46.2-853)
Sometimes, officers charge a person for reckless driving simply because they believe that person caused a serious accident. When property is damaged or an injury occurs, law enforcement can jump to conclusions and wrongly assume that you were driving recklessly. The problem is that injury or property damage is not conclusive of reckless driving. Indeed, people sometimes are careless, or are distracted, or try to avoid an accident with another car, or are simply human and make a miscalculation. Your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer can obtain all the facts and help explain why you were not driving recklessly, but that you made a very unfortunate miscalculation.
There is a separate statute for failing to maintain control of a vehicle which charges a violation of that statute as reckless driving. See Virginia Code § 46.2-853. Under this subsection of Virginia’s reckless driving statute, it is a crime to drive a car that is not under proper control or that has faulty brakes. A good Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will be able to explain why, even if your circumstances appear to fall under this statute, you still may be able to have the charges dismissed.
What I can say is that in my time as a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, I seldom see “failing to maintain control” being charged on account of mechanical failure. However, if you neglected to tend to your vehicle or visit your car mechanic, and the loss of control was a result of your failure to safely take care of your vehicle, your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer may be able to have the charge lowered to a traffic infraction. Whether this is possible depends on your previous driving record, the skill of your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, and a host of other factors. Most times, if this is the statute under which you were charged, your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will be able to help you avoid a conviction or fines.
Defenses to Failing to Maintain Control
Failing to maintain control applies to situations where a person’s own carelessness, recklessness, or negligence caused them to lose control of their vehicle. In these sorts of situations, the officer learns about what occurred through eyewitness accounts, but as a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, I know how eyewitness testimony can be inherently unreliable. This is particularly true with car accidents – where the true nature of the incident goes far beyond simple observation, but into complicated and technical matters of mathematics, physics, and mechanics. It is very typical for people see a car accident and believe the accident to be one person’s fault but, upon further investigation, the other person is ultimately found to be at fault.
Driving with an Overloaded Vehicle (Virginia Code § 46.2-855)
Maybe you are moving, or dumping old furniture off at the local dump, or perhaps you recently purchased a new big screen television and think you can fit it inside the backseat of your car. After loading it up, you realize the item is blocking your ability to see out your rearview mirror. You think to yourself that it isn’t a far drive and you’ll be able to make it home without incident. However, on the drive home, the police pull you over and ticket you with reckless driving.
As a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, I can categorically tell you that this form of reckless driving is generally one where the driver had very little, if any, reckless intent. But the law holds that you can be charged with reckless driving if items being carried inside your vehicle obstruct your view to the front, sides, or back of your vehicle or somehow interfere with your ability to control the vehicle.
If you have been charged with reckless driving as a result of an overloaded vehicle, contact a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer who can help you have the charges dismissed or, if you have a good driving history, have the charges lowered to a non-criminal offense. You have defenses and you have rights and a simple mistake or oversight regarding the rules of the road should not result in a criminal charge – particularly if no one was hurt or injured.
Driving at an Unreasonable Speed (Virginia Code § 46.2-861)
Driving at an unreasonable speed can be charged even when a person is driving under the speed limit. One of the most common question a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will get when it comes to this form of reckless driving is “What or when is a person’s speed unreasonable?” A good example would be a person driving 55 mph in a blizzard who then slides into another vehicle causing an accident. Logic would dictate that, but for that person’s “unreasonable speed”, the accident would not have occurred
The problem is, whether someone’s speed is viewed as reasonable or unreasonable is matter left to the police officer who has pulled you over. People often worry that a police officer can find someone’s speed to be unreasonable under any condition if they so please. But the reality is that driving 65 mph on a sunny summer Sunday when no one else is on the highway cannot legitimately be charged as reckless driving. The police have to be reasonable in their own right when determining whether to issue this sort of ticket. If you have been charged with this form of reckless driving, you should contact a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer.
When you contact a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, you will have someone on you side who will be able to create reasonable doubt abour whether your speed was actually “unreasonable.” Juries are not quick to convict someone of engaging in behavior which they have possibly engaged in many times themselves. And if an officer tickets you for a dubious reason, the case will either be dismissed or you will not be found guilty. If you are apprehensive about going to trial, then there is always a possibility that your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will be able to negotiate down to a lower charge.
Reckless Driving in Parking Lots (Virginia Code § 46.2-864)
This section of Virginia reckless driving law applies when a person drives in a reckless or dangerous manner:
- In the driveway or parking lot of school, church, business, or public property;
- On the premises of an industrial business’ parking lot;
- On a highway under construction and not open for public use
My experience as a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer has crystallized when this form of reckless driving is generally charged, and it is typically when someone is engaged in sophomoric activity like doing doughnuts or peeling out in a parking lot when it is full of people. If a person was to engage in this activity when no one else is around, then that cannot be charged with this form of reckless driving.
Your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will be able to help you if you charged with this form of reckless driving because whether your actions actually caused, or were likely to cause, danger to others is a somewhat nebulous standard which is entirely left up to the discretion of the charging officer. As such, the reasonableness of the officer’s standard of “dangerousness” can always be called into question. Hiring a knowledgeable and skilled Fairfax reckless driving lawyer is the best first step you can take after being charged with this particular form of reckless driving.
Passing a School Bus (Virginia Code § 46.2-859)
In Virginia, it is considered reckless driving to pass a stopped school bus which is letting off children. When a bus is letting off children, traffic in both directions must stop unless there is a median in the road. In this case, drivers heading in the opposite direction do not need to stop. Many people believe this law is not practical and that there is nothing reckless about slowly and carefully passing by a school bus letting children off. However, the Virginia legislature, for the most part, institutes rules of reasons. The reality is, enough children were either killed or injured that the Commonwealth felt it prudent to designate passing a bus as “reckless driving.”
If you have been accused of reckless driving for this reason, your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will be able to provide you a number of options. Sometimes, your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will be able to negotiate the charge down to a non-criminal offense, while other times you may want to take your case to trial.
Defenses to Passing a School Bus
A good Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will understand the defensive nuances to this particular form of reckless driving. Importantly, the bus cannot simply be any old bus; it must be yellow, have emergency lights, and it must have “School Bus” written on the front and back of the vehicle. If the bus does not meet these specifications, then you cannot be charged with reckless driving.
Any Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will tell you that there have been cases where the driver of the bus failed to use their emergency lights and, as a result, the defendant could not be convicted of reckless driving. With that said, it takes a skilled and knowledgeable Fairfax reckless driving lawyer to assert these defenses in manner which can best help you obtain a favorable outcome in your reckless driving case.
Passing an Emergency Vehicle (Virginia Code § 46.2-829)
You can be charged with reckless driving if you pass an emergency vehicle if its siren is on and its lights are flashing.
This could be law enforcement, a fire truck, or an ambulance. Some people believe that simply failing to yield or stop for an emergency vehicle can result in reckless driving, but failing to stop is its own separate traffic offense.
Defenses to Passing an Emergency Vehicle
I’ll give it to you straight: Passing an emergency vehicle is dumb, but getting caught doing it is even dumber. Whatever your reasons for passing an emergency vehicle, if you get caught, it’s a crime, and you will need a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer who will be able to possibly help you get a deal to plead guilty to a lower charge.
There are few legitimate defenses to this charge if a police officer witnesses you passing an emergency vehicle. One of the first things we learn in driver’s ed is to pull over when you hear sirens or see flashing lights. Whatever rush you may be in, it is always unwise to overtake an emergency vehicle while driving. Just don’t do it.
Passing at a Railroad Crossing (Virginia Code §46.2-858)
Most drivers have witnessed someone slowing down before crossing railroad tracks to ensure that they are safe from oncoming trains. Railway guards have been around since the mid-nineteenth century, but they became much more prevalent after the advent of the automobile.
These guard crossings are almost always effective and in working order, and we typically see only school buses or other large vehicles stop before crossing railroad tracks. However, in Virginia, considers it reckless driving to pass a vehicle that has slowed down before crossing railroad tracks.
Defenses to Passing at a Railroad Crossing
My experience as a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer obligates me to inform you that there are not many defenses to this particular version of reckless driving, and, let’s face it, if you get caught in the act by law enforcement, you should have been paying better attention to your surroundings. However, if the road has two or more lanes in each direction, and you pass by entering the other lane, that is not reckless driving. Likewise, if there is a marked zone to pass the slowing vehicle, that too is a legitimate defense. Finally, if it is one way street, you are able to pass the slowing vehicle as well.
Essentially, this law is one of reason: It seeks to prevent people on a one-lane highway traveling in each direction from driving into oncoming traffic merely to pass a slowing vehicle. Although this form of reckless driving may seem useless or antiquated, I can assure that in my time as a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, all laws on the books related to reckless driving are rules of reason.
Passing Two Abreast Vehicles (Virginia Code § 46.2-856)
A driver can be charged with reckless driving when a person attempts to pass two vehicles by swerving into lanes designated for oncoming traffic. In my practice as a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, I am often asked what if the road has three lanes and two cars are driving next to one another. The answer is that a highway with three or more lanes provides an exception to the aforementioned rule. Likewise, there are additional defenses your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer can assert including that you reckless driving laws don’t apply to passing a bicycle or moped.
If you have been charged with reckless driving for swerving into a lane designated for oncoming traffic with the intention of passing two vehicles driving next to each other, then you are going to need an aggressive, knowledgeable, and skilled Fairfax reckless driving lawyer who understands the possible defenses you may have while also being capable of negotiating the reckless driving charges down to a minor traffic infraction.
Failure to Yield When Merging onto a Highway (Virginia Code § 46.2-863)
When we are taught how to drive, we learn that the best way to enter a highway is to speed up to the flow of traffic so that we can smoothly merge onto the highway without causing those behind us to slam on their brakes. However, according to Virginia Code § 46.2-863, it is considered reckless driving to enter a highway without yielding to approaching vehicles within 500 feet of you. Although I have rarely seen this type of violation in my time as a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, it does indeed happen on occasion. The problem is, if you are ticketed for this particular form of reckless driving, it is because law enforcement likely witnessed you causing a near accident by failing to yield when merging onto a highway.
Failing to Give a Proper Signal
Although it doesn’t happen very often, a person could be charged with reckless driving for failing to adequately giving a signal of their intention to turn. If you are charged with this form of reckless driving, your Fairfax reckless driving lawyer will likely be able to get the charges dropped unless your failure to signal was accompanied by you violently cutting another motorist off in traffic and nearly causing an accident. Standing alone, failing to signal is generally not indicative – legally or otherwise – of recklessness.
Contact a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer Today for a Free Consultation
Reckless driving is charged as a criminal misdemeanor in Virginia and a conviction could show up on background checks for the rest of your life. Likewise, you may face increased insurance rates. When a person begins to think about all the potentially negative implications associated with a relatively minor mistake, it can become overwhelming. But that is why hiring a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer is so important: So that you can stop worrying about the problem and let a qualified, aggressive, and affordable Fairfax reckless driving lawyer handle the problem for you. More often than not, these sorts of charges can be reduced or dismissed.
At the Law Offices of Randall Sousa, our primary goal is to keep our clients out of jail and their records clean. If you have been charged with reckless driving in Virginia, contact us today for a free consultation with an aggressive, skilled, and affordable Fairfax reckless driving lawyer. 571-354-6164
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By: Randall Sousa
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