Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia that can have severe punishments and significant long-term consequences. If you have been charged with this crime, it is crucial to understand the potential defenses available to you.
Hiring an experienced traffic ticket attorney can significantly enhance your chances of successfully challenging the charges. It may result in the charges being dismissed or reduced to a less serious offense.
Virginia Reckless Driving Charges and Penalties
Reckless driving encompasses various actions that exhibit a disregard for the safety of others sharing the road with the reckless driver. In Virginia, you can be charged with approximately 16 separate offenses. Here are some common reckless driving violations:
- Driving 20 mph or faster over the speed limit or exceeding 80 mph, regardless of the posted speed limit.
- Operating a motor vehicle in a way that endangers life, limb, or property due to improper control or faulty equipment.
- Not stopping for a school bus with activated stop signs or flashing red lights.
- Drag racing
- Driving at an unsafe speed for weather or road conditions
In our state, you would face a Class 1 misdemeanor charge if arrested for reckless driving. The penalties might include a jail sentence that could be for up to 12 months, a fine not exceeding $2,500, a suspension of your driver's license for six months, and six demerit points on your driving record.
Defenses You Can Use to Fight Reckless Driving Charges
When faced with reckless driving charges in Virginia, your first step should be to hire a knowledgeable traffic ticket attorney. They can identify the defenses applicable to your case and collect the evidence you need to prove them. The following are possible defenses you may be able to raise:
- Location. The specific location where the alleged offense took place can be crucial. You must be charged in the correct county or city. If you were on the border between different counties or cities, the police officer might not have had the authority to arrest you. This error could result in the charges being dismissed.
- Highway. Highways are defined to include most public roads and highways. However, if you were driving on a private road, the law enforcement officer might not have jurisdiction to arrest you. This is another technical defense you can use to beat the charges.
- Radar and lidar calibration. Radar and lidar devices that measure vehicle speed must be properly calibrated every six months and maintained. Challenging the accuracy and calibration records of these devices can raise doubts about the reliability of the speed measurement, potentially weakening the prosecution's evidence. You may also be able to argue that the officer did not use the device properly.
- Your speedometer calibration. If your lawyer can provide evidence that your vehicle's speedometer was improperly calibrated or malfunctioning at the time of the incident, it can raise doubts about the accuracy of the alleged excessive speed. Discuss whether calibrating your speedometer is worth the cost with your attorney before having it done.
- GPS data. If you were utilizing a GPS device or app that recorded your vehicle's speed and location during the incident, this data could serve as evidence to contradict the prosecution's claims. It may help establish that you were not driving recklessly and that your behavior was within the legal limits.