Speeding as Reckless Driving reduced to Improper Driving in Fairfax County
Client was driving on I-66 going to the gym late at night and was stopped by a Virginia State Trooper. As it happens the Trooper observed our client speeding at around 75mph and started pacing them. Pacing is when the Police Officer either drives behind another vehicle keeping equidistant their front bumper and the other driver's rear bumper or are simply driving next to another vehicle. They keep their vehicle speedometers calibrated (accurate) so they simply look at their speedometer to determine the other vehicle's speed.
In this case our client did not realize it was a State Trooper behind them and thought they were tailgating our client. As a result, our client speed up to 87mph at which point the Trooper initiated their emergency equipment and conducted a traffic stop. There were no issues during the traffic stop.
Our client was young and attended Virginia Commonwealth University ("VCU") so we recommended they take an online defensive driving course and bring their school ID with them. We like our college students to supply their student ID because all Prosecutors and Judges have been to college to it can really help to humanize our clients which is important in these cases.
Our client did have a recent speeding ticket on their record but the Trooper agreed they were pacing our client (as they're allowed to do by Statute) but which meant our client probably did feel like they were being tailgated which is why they speed up. Given our client was a college student and had taken the defensive driving course the Prosecutor agreed to lower the charge to reflect Improper Driving with a fine. As a result, the original misdemeanor reckless driving speed charge will not appear on our client's driving record and will instead reflect the infraction of Improper Driving. Improper Driving is a 3-point offense for DMV purposes and falls off the driving record after 3 years.
Anytime you have someone tailgating you it's best to simply switch lanes and continue where you're going. If it's a police officer behind you they may switch lanes with you because they may be pacing you. Perhaps it is another driver playing games. In any case don't speed up "to get away" but maintain your position or even slow down because the driver will likely get frustrated and go around you at that point. If it's a police officer pacing you and you've slowed down they may not have gotten a good pace (i.e. long enough) and simply terminate their speed investigation. We have had many clients over the years feel threatened when tailgated and will speed up and it just never bodes well.
Practice area(s): Speeding / Traffic Ticket
Court: Fairfax County General District Court