Yes, it is possible. With the skilled help of experienced attorney James E. Short, you may be able to reduce reckless driving charges in Virginia to a less serious offense. Even if you exceed the speed limit, reckless driving is not a foregone conclusion.
Reckless Driving Offenses and Penalties
It is essential to understand that reckless driving charges in Virginia aren’t just about speed. While excessive speeding is often a significant factor, it is not the only reason for a reckless driving ticket. If the arresting officer believes you are endangering life, limb, or property or violating a specific section of the reckless driving law, they may issue a reckless driving ticket. You may get a ticket for:
- Driving too fast for weather or road conditions
- Passing on a curve
- Failing to signal
- Street racing
- Driving more than 85 mph at any time or 20 mph or more over the speed limit
All of these reckless driving charges carry stiff penalties that you likely want to avoid.
Virginia Reckless Driving Misdemeanor Charge
Reckless driving in Virginia can be a misdemeanor or a felony. Most reckless driving charges are a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possible penalties include:
- Up to $2,500 fine
- Up to 12 months in jail
- Up to six months suspension of your driver’s license
- Six DMV points
- Conviction on your record for 11 years
- A permanent criminal record for life
Receiving a hefty fine and jail sentence is troubling enough. The permanent criminal record, though, can impact the rest of your life. It can affect employment, custody, housing, travel, and more. You may be denied a security clearance because of a reckless driving misdemeanor.
How to Get Reckless Driving Charges Reduced
Several common tactics to reduce reckless driving charges just don’t work. Saying that you were simply keeping up with the flow of traffic or that the officer didn’t pull anyone else over won’t help. These are not legitimate reasons to reduce the charge.
Thankfully, there are effective ways to reduce the reckless driving charge in Virginia. The reality is that police officers do not have to give a specific reason for the ticket. There’s a lot of leeway in how they interpret the law. Thus, this opens up chances to argue the case in your favor with the help of a skilled reckless driving lawyer.
Compelling Defense Strategy
Based on the available evidence, Mr. Short can help you formulate a compelling defense strategy. By speaking with eyewitnesses, you may be able to paint a different picture than the officer may present. All you need to do is create reasonable doubt. A clean driving record can also work in your favor in a borderline speeding case.
Reduced to Improper Driving
Unlike a reckless driving misdemeanor or felony, improper driving is a much lesser charge. In fact, it is one of the lowest moving violations in Virginia law. Mr. Short can help show that you were “minimally culpable.” This means your driving wasn’t too reckless. It was a minor mistake and should be treated as such.
Virginia Code § 46.2-869 outlines the possible punishments for improper driving. They are a fine of up to $500 and three points on your DMV record, expiring in three years. This is a much lower fine, fewer points, and the points expire sooner. There is also no license suspension. More importantly, there is no jail sentence and no permanent criminal record.
Remember that a reckless driving charge is open to interpretation. Under cross-examination, the issuing officer may agree that improper driving makes more sense than reckless driving. They may recommend reducing the charge, even to just a speeding ticket. The court does not have to follow the officer’s recommendation, but it does consider it. For this reason, it is vital to be courteous and cooperative with police.
Driver Improvement Clinic
Another option is to attend a driver improvement clinic. Think of this like a driving safety school. The judge may send you to one of these clinics instead of a fine or jail sentence. This may help you avoid a permanent criminal record, too. An experienced lawyer familiar with judges in your area can assess how viable this route may be. However, this option is not possible if you have a commercial driver’s license.
Plea Bargain to Community Service
If you admit wrongdoing, you may be able to enter a plea bargain. This can reduce charges and potential sentencing. One option is you must perform community service as a probation condition. This is especially compelling if you demonstrate remorse and show you take the charge seriously.