Improper Driving is Reduced from Reckless Driving in Fairfax County
One of the fundamental aspects of living in Fairfax County is the need to drive. Unlike New York City where you can walk or take a cab everywhere, here in Fairfax, you have to drive. A byproduct of driving is patrol officers scanning the roads for people driving too fast. As a result, many people during their lifetime will face a reckless driving charge. This Class 1 Misdemeanor charge can really cause problems to a person's driving record and criminal record. Due to these issues, the Virginia Legislature has created a lesser offense known as Improper Driving. In Fairfax County, Improper Driving is a charge that is used in cases where the person is charged with reckless driving but the driving behavior is just not all that bad.
What is Improper Driving in Virginia?
Improper Driving is a traffic infraction that is used in cases where people are charged with reckless driving. Pursuant to § 46.2-869, when the "degree of culpability is slight," the court or prosecutor may reduce a reckless driving charge to improper driving. This is important because it takes the Class 1 Misdemeanor reckless driving charge and amends (changes) it to reflect improper driving which is a traffic infraction only. As a result, the only thing that would appear on your driving record is a charge of improper driving and no misdemeanor conviction would appear on your criminal history.
Improper Driving is a 3-point offense that stays on your driving record for 3 years. The maximum fine allowed by law is $500. This is in contrast to a 6-point reckless driving offense that stays on your driving record for 11 years and your criminal history for a lifetime. In many cases, improper driving is a godsend because it does not affect security clearances and won't kill insurance rates and driving records the way reckless driving does.
Not All Cases are Improper Driving in Fairfax County
Improper Driving can be a great result in certain accident cases and cases where the speed is the reason for the reckless driving charge. However, sometimes, there are accidents where there are no witnesses and a Fairfax County police officer or trooper will write a person for reckless driving figuring there was damage to property and that a reduction to improper driving will probably occur in court by the Judge or prosecutor. In these cases, improper driving is not appropriate because Virginia case law has held that the "mere happening of an accident" without more evidence is neither reckless driving nor improper driving because we just don't know what caused the accident (it may have been a reason beyond the driver's control).
If you have questions about your case, contact us for a free consultation and we will discuss with you whether or not improper driving is a good result or whether such a reduction is unlikely. We routinely handle these types of cases and will definitely ensure you know the options for your case.