If you have been charged with reckless driving in Fairfax County, it is strongly recommended you appear in Court with a lawyer who regularly practices such cases. Reckless Driving is not like a simple speeding ticket that is prepayable and is a misdemeanor. We recommend you do everything you can to avoid a misdemeanor conviction for reckless driving. We routinely appear in front of the same Judges and Prosecutors and have an established relationship with the Fairfax County Court system. Get some ease and contact us for a Free Consultation to discuss your case. Give us a call or use the contact form below. Text: 703-300-5426 or Call: 703-273-4100.
- What is Reckless Driving
- Reckless Driving Penalties
- DMV Points For Reckless Driving
- Reckless Driving Examples
- Fighting a Reckless Driving Ticket
- Hiring a Lawyer for your Reckless Driving Ticket
- Do you need to go to Court for your Reckless Driving Ticket
- Your Free Initial Consultation
- Reckless Driving Lawyer Cost
What is Reckless Driving?
Reckless Driving is a traffic misdemeanor. Unfortunately, it is the same Class 1 Misdemeanor as a DWI, Assault, Petit Larceny, Brandishing a Firearm, etc. A reckless driving ticket is a very common charge in Fairfax County. However, it is not a charge that an individual should put to chance and represent themselves hoping that a Judge reduces it in court.
We recommend that people go onto the Virginia Case Information System and look up cases of people that have previously appeared in court without an Attorney for their Reckless Driving charge. You would be amazed to see hundreds of cases of people going just 75 mph in a 55 mph zone and are convicted of Reckless Driving. It is surprising how many people do not retain a Lawyer to represent them in court for reckless driving cases. Even more surprising is how often a Judge finds the person guilty and gives a small fine. This leaves the person to believe they did well in court. It is not until later that the person realizes they were convicted of a Class 1 Misdemeanor and are facing additional consequences. As a result, we recommend that people hire a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer for their ticket to get the best outcome for their case.
What are the Penalties for Reckless Driving?
Reckless Driving in Virginia is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. Therefore, the penalties for Reckless Driving are harsh. Pursuant to §18.2-11 of the Virginia Code, the punishment is up to 12 months in jail and a fine of $2500. In addition, there is the possibility of a 6 month loss of privilege to drive in Virginia.
Conviction for Reckless Driving
Driving Record and Criminal Record
A conviction for reckless driving will result in a loss of 6 points on your driving record. The conviction will remain on your driving record for 11 years and remain as a criminal conviction for a lifetime.
Jail Time for Reckless Driving in Fairfax, VA
In Fairfax County, jail time is possible for a reckless driving conviction. Generally, anyone caught driving 85 mph or more is subject to possible jail time. However, such speeds do not automatically mean you will face active jail time. Your driving record, cooperation with the officer, and other factors can help. Contact a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer to discuss strategy and to avoid these harsh penalties.
First Offense Reckless Driving in Fairfax, VA – still a big deal
A first offense reckless driving charge can be easier to negotiate a reduction to a lesser offense. However, even a first offense for a highs-speed reckless driving will require substantial preparation. Whether it is a first offense or second offense reckless driving, Fairfax County takes them seriously and you should too.
Insurance Rates, Background Checks, Security Clearances – a lawyer can help
How many points is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
A reckless driving conviction will result in a loss of 6 points on your driving record. A conviction will remain on your driving record for 11 years.
What are the Most Common Reckless Driving Examples?
Reckless Driving Generally: § 46.2-852
A person can be convicted of reckless driving in Fairfax County even if they are not speeding. If the vehicle is driven in a manner that endangers life, limb, or property, it is reckless driving. Many reckless driving charges are based on accidents or driving erratically in a way that disturbs the other drivers on the road.
RECKLESS DRIVING ACCIDENT
Most Virginia State Troopers and some Fairfax County Police Officers will charge reckless driving upon arrival to an accident scene. Many times, they did not witness the accident but will charge reckless driving anyway. Many State Troopers and County Officers take the position that the driver must have driven in a way that endangered life, limb, or property since there was a car accident. However, not every accident is reckless driving.
Virginia Case Law has repeatedly held that an unexplained accident that gives rise to mere speculation is not reckless driving. See Powers v.Commonwealth, 211 Va. 386 (1970). A Defendant cannot be convicted of reckless driving based on speculation and conjecture as to what cause him to lose control of the car. See Thompson v. Commonwealth, 27 Va. App. 720 (1998). An experienced lawyer can help present the case to the court in such a manner that the court cannot tell what caused the accident and should dismiss the reckless driving charge.
In reckless driving accident cases in Fairfax County, certain cases are ripe for trial. Other reckless driving accident cases may require your lawyer to negotiate a plea deal to have the reckless driving charge reduced to improper driving. While it's not a dismissal, improper driving is not a misdemeanor and is only a traffic infraction. Isn't that better? If you have been charged with reckless driving because of an accident in Fairfax County, contact a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer.
Reckless Driving Passing Stopped School Bus: § 46.2-859
Passing a Stopped School Bus can be reckless driving. In Fairfax County, receiving a Passing a Stopped School Bus Reckless Driving Ticket is taken very seriously and you should have a lawyer. Unless there is a median or other barrier, a person is required to stop for any school bus that is stopped and unloading its occupants.
Because there are children being unloaded or loaded onto a school bus, large vehicles create a substantial hazard to their well-being. As a result, the Virginia Legislature created a Reckless Driving Statute prohibiting Passing a Stopped School Bus. Therefore, a conviction for Reckless Driving By Passing a Stopped School Bus is the same Class 1 Misdemeanor as every other reckless driving ticket.
Sometimes the the Fairfax County Court, on its own motion, will reduce the Reckless Driving Passing a Stopped School Bus under §46.2-859 to Passing a Stopped School Bus under §46.2-844. This amended charge is a civil penalty of $250 and is not a misdemeanor. Please note that a conviction under the civil penalty will still be 6 points off your driving record. Of course, if you cannot afford a Lawyer for your Reckless Driving case and the Judge does this for you, it is a decent outcome. But a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer would likely be seeking a further reduction to either a no-point offense or to improper driving (as mentioned above).
Reckless Driving by Speed: § 46.2-862
Anytime an individual drives at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more over the speed limit, it is reckless driving by statute (reckless driving by speed). Some common examples of reckless driving by speed include going 45 mph in a 25 mph zone, or driving 55 mph in a 35 mph zone, or driving 65 mph in a 45 mph zone, or driving 75 mph in a 55 mph zone.
In addition, anytime a person drives at a speed in excess of eighty miles per hour, it is reckless driving. Please note that a posted speed limit of 70 mph does not change the law that driving in excess of 80 mph is still reckless driving in Virginia. As a result, simply driving 81 mph in a 70 mph zone is reckless driving.
An experienced Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer will seek to have the reckless driving speed reduced to speeding by negotiation with the Prosecutor or by trial with the Judge. In either instance, having the reckless driving reduced to a simple traffic infraction is a win.
Reckless Driving Over 80 mph
Years ago in Fairfax County, there was an old saying, “80 mph and above you lose your license. 90 mph and over you lose your freedom.” Today, this viewpoint has been relaxed to some extent. A reckless driving charge over 80 mph but at or under 85 mph is typically a speed that a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer can work towards a reduction to a traffic infraction (to avoid the misdemeanor conviction). Sometimes, depending on the individual's driving record and other mitigating evidence, reckless driving reduced to speeding is still possible for speeds above 85 mph.
Reckless Driving over 90 mph
Anytime you face a reckless driving charge where the speed alleged is at or above 90 mph you face serious consequences. Unless there is a defense to reckless driving, you can expect to face a conviction. In fact, at this speed, a main focus is avoiding jail time and/or a license suspension. The lower the speed the better in this instance.
Reckless Driving over 100 mph
If you face a reckless driving ticket where the speed alleged is at or over 100 mph, jail time and a loss of license is a huge possibility. Listen to your Lawyer closely and do everything you are told. Remember, the Judge and/or Prosecutor have been sworn to protect the community and we must do everything we can to show that our client is not a hazard to the community.
How to Fight a Reckless Driving Ticket
(i) Driving Record:
In Fairfax County, your prior driving record is always the first thing a prosecutor asks for of your lawyer. It is also the first thing a Judge asks for from the officer if they find evidence of Reckless Driving. Virginia Code §46.2-943 allows the court to impose a sentence after considering the person's prior traffic record. While the statute does not explicitly allow a court to reduce the charge, it is generally understood that such a reduction is permissible. As a result, an understanding Judge may reduce a reckless driving charge of 75 mph in a 55 mph zone to 74 mph in a 55 mph. This reduction will save the individual 2 demerit points on their driving record and save them from a misdemeanor conviction. However, as noted above, the court is not required to reduce the charge and does not in many cases.
It is a good idea to get a copy of your driving record prior to court so you know what your record shows. You can either go to any Virginia DMV location or go online at http://www.dmv.state.va.us to order your record. Be sure to show your Lawyer your driving record. There is a big difference with a +5 driving record and a -5 in reckless driving cases.
(ii) Traffic Stop Cooperation:
Many times a prosecutor or Judge is on the fence about whether to reduce the reckless driving charge. One of the first things they will ask of the officer is whether the individual was cooperative in the investigation of the traffic stop. While cooperation is not always going to “make or break” a case, we have represented numerous people who got a good break because they were polite and cooperative
(iii) Driver Improvement Course:
An in-class 8 hour driver improvement course can be very important to the outcome of a reckless driving case in Fairfax County. In fact, in high speed cases where the client went over 90 mph, we will typically have them take the 8 hour course and an additional 4 hour Reckless Aggressive Driving course. It shows the court that the client cared enough about their case to take an entire Saturday afternoon to sit through boring material and learn. These courses are an important part of the defense to reckless driving cases.
A few driver improvement courses that are DMV-approved we can recommend are the following:
a) Fairfax ASAP: 703-246-2727;
b) AA Driving Academy: 703-478-6800; and
Upon completion, keep your driver improvement certificate and give it to your Attorney. Your Attorney will use the certificate of completion in the Fairfax Court to help get your reckless driving charge reduced.
iv) Academic Degrees, Community Involvement, Employment:
As a part of our zealous representation in reckless driving cases, we like to present our clients in the best possible light. While not helpful in every type of case, a person's employment or school transcript can go a long way. In addition, current or prior community involvement may be very helpful in cases. When we have high speed cases and the prosecutor or Judge is focused on the speed of the reckless driving charge at hand, it is important to remind the court of the contributions the client has made and will make in the future. Certainly, one mistake should not follow an individual for the rest of their lives, right?
(v) Defendant Speedometer Test: § 46.2-942
This Virginia statute is arguably the most important in reckless driving cases. The statute says that the court is allow evidence of a vehicle speedometer test. This statute is important because it allows a person to have their speedometer tested for accuracy. If the report shows the speedometer was a little inaccurate, the court should consider it. For example, this means that when charged with reckless driving at 77 mph in a 55 mph zone, the court can reduce the charge to simple speeding if the speedometer said a slower speed than the car was traveling.
To get your speedometer calibrated, go to any service station that does them. After the calibration, you should receive a notarized calibration document that shows the actual reading versus the dynometer reading. Many times, due to a vehicle's age and mileage, the speedometer does not accurately reflect the true speed of the vehicle.
(vi) Determining Speed: § 46.2-882
The calibration of the Radar, Lidar, or speedometer device used to stop the defendant can be challenged. Typical objections rest on whether a calibration of the device was was done within the past six months. Additionally, was the individual who did the calibration who signed the certificate in court? Finally, if the calibration is a copy, is it considered a “true copy” within the meaning of the Code?
Reducing a Reckless Driving Ticket
Depending on the speed or driving behavior a reckless driving charge can be reduced by the Judge or Prosecutor. Some reckless driving cases can be reduced to the following:
Improper Driving (infraction) § 46.2-869
This statute covers the improper driving statute. Improper Driving is a 3 point offense and is a traffic infraction. It is a favorable result because it is 3 points less than the 6 point reckless driving charge and is not a misdemeanor.
The Judge and Prosecutor in Fairfax County have the power to reduce a reckless driving charge to improper driving when the “degree of culpability is slight.” This amendment is made many times in reckless driving accident cases. When there are no injuries and the damage is minor, your Lawyer will argue that it is hard to say that their client was driving in a way that endangered life, limb, or property.
Speeding (infraction) § 46.2-870 and § 46.2-878
These statutes cover the general speeding statutes. As covered in the other Traffic Infractions area of this website, they range from 3-point, 4-point, and 6-point offenses. In addition, they are all traffic infractions only and are better outcomes than a reckless driving conviction.
Other Non-Moving Violations
Having a reckless driving charge reduced to a non-moving violation is ideal in the event the charge cannot be dismissed. Non-moving Infractions in State, County, City, and Town Codes are great when charged with reckless driving because they carry no DMV demerit points. This result is the best result (aside from a dismissal) because they generally do not affect insurance rates. A typical state infraction used that carries no DMV demerit points is Defective Equipment (§46.2-1003). The Typical Fairfax County Codes include Failing to Pay Full Time and Attention (82-4-24) and Failing to Maintain Control (82-4-25). These infractions do not appear on the individual's driving record.
Do I need to a Lawyer for a Reckless Driving charge in Fairfax County?
In short, you need a lawyer for a reckless driving charge in Fairfax County. There is simply too much to risk going to court with a lawyer since reckless driving is a misdemeanor. At the Letnick Law Firm PLC, we have had the privilege of hearing our clients say how much easier we made it for them when they hired us as their lawyer. They don't have to say anything to the police office or Judge and they know they have an experienced lawyer working for them. We pride ourselves in letting the clients know what the likely outcome will be when we first meet. We will not create any unjust expectations in our cases and want our clients fully informed prior to Court.
Can you Appeal your Reckless Driving Case?
If you are convicted of Reckless Driving in General District Court, you can Appeal the case within 10 days from the date of conviction. You will be granted a de novo (“new”) trial in Circuit Court. As a result, the Appeal eliminates whatever happened in General District Court. In addition, you will have the option of having a Judge Trial or Jury Trial to hear your reckless driving case.
The Court of Appeals and Supreme Court of Virginia are available to hear any Appeal for a reckless driving conviction from the Circuit Court. However, Appeals in those Courts are highly discretionary so Circuit Court will likely be your last reasonable chance to get the charge reduced or dismissed. Hire an Attorney for any reckless driving appeal that you do to increase your chances of success.
Do you need to go to Court for your Reckless Driving charge?
In certain reckless driving cases in Fairfax County, your lawyer can appear on your behalf for court. While it depends on the speed and your record, the lawyers at Letnick Law Firm PLC regularly appear on our clients behalf so that the client does not need to take the time out of their day to miss work or family obligations. At the conclusion of the case, we contact the client letting them know the result and the fines and court costs, if any. We will first discuss possible resolutions before your court date so that you know what to expect.
Your Free Initial Consultation
We offer a no obligation Free Initial Consultation to discuss your Fairfax reckless driving case. You can either come in for an in-office appointment or do a telephone conference. We will talk about the facts of your case, whether any mitigating evidence is necessary, the price for the representation, and the next steps. Everyone's case is important and so is yours.
The Best Lawyer for Reckless Driving in Fairfax Virginia
Finding the best Lawyer for a Reckless Driving in Fairfax Virginia is vitally important to your reckless driving case. There are hundreds of lawyers in the Fairfax County area but only a handful can properly handle your case.
Certainly, you would not want to hire a civil lawyer to handle your reckless driving case. Lawyers that handle reckless driving cases are generally in court everyday and appear in front of the same judges and prosecutors on a consistent basis. This relationship with the court is not established when an attorney appears in court once a month.
The best way to find the best lawyer for your case is to do your research and meet with the lawyers you are considering. Make sure they answer all of your questions and make sure that they consistently represent people on such cases. Do not let them ignore certain questions you may have. Reckless driving is a serious traffic misdemeanor and the case should be handled by a competent attorney.
Reckless Driving Lawyer Cost
Our costs or fees for a reckless driving charge in Fairfax County will depend on the individual's speed and their driving record. Typically, the lower the speed and the better the driving record, the lower the fee. We offer very competitive flat rates (i.e. one-time fee) on all reckless driving cases. During your free initial consultation we will quote our fee so that you can then decide if it works for you. There is no charge for telephone conferences or email discussions in reckless driving cases. A Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer will be worth the cost.