Fairfax County Reckless Driving by Speed Reduced to Improper Driving
Client was driving on the Dulles Toll Road and was stopped for going 96mph in a 55mph zone. The Metropolitan Washington Airports Authority Police Officer (MWAA) cited them with reckless driving due to the speed. Client was driving to a doctor's appointment but, admittedly, it was not an emergency. They were simply driving a family member's vehicle they weren't used to and the speed got away from them. It should be noted that this argument does not go over well with Fairfax County Judges because they don't believe such high speeds are accidental. Reasonable minds can differ.
In this case our client had a clean driving record and they took both an 8-hour defensive driving course and reckless driving course. Normally we have our clients get their speedometer calibrated because it's a good way to lower the speed alleged but we could not in this case since it wasn't our client's vehicle. The good news is the MWAA Officer was onboard with a reduction of the charge. But the prosecutor was not as agreeable due to the speed involved and we still had the issue of ultimately getting a reduction past the Judge.
The Officer indicated that the speed was a "straight shot", there were no lane changes, traffic was light and not affected, and client was very apologetic and seemed remorseful. We then supplemented the officer's statements with the mitigation our client had performed and went into some detail about what the doctor's appointment was for. We recommended a reduction to improper driving with a high fine since we felt our client's culpability was slight by statute and we also felt the Judge would accept this resolution. The prosecutor ultimately agreed and, upon submitting the agreement, the Judge admitted that the prosecutor has discretion to lower a charge to improper driving irrespective of a Judge's position on the matter and cannot reject such an agreement. This was our thought too. This is because under Virginia Code §46.2-869 a prosecutor "may reduce a charge of reckless driving to improper driving at any time prior to the court's decision improper driving." In many cases Judges will reject agreements on high-speed reckless driving cases so sometimes we have to play the chess game. It should be noted that this Judge is very nice and accommodating but they've seen a lot of accidents lately with bad injuries due to speed so they can be a little harsh on these types of cases. Having a good attorney that handles reckless driving cases is very important because you need to have sometime who knows how to play the aforementioned chess game and get the best result possible.
Practice area(s): Speeding / Traffic Ticket
Court: Fairfax County General District Court