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Difference Between A Virginia Speeding Ticket and Reckless Driving

Although they may appear similar in certain instances, there are major differences between speeding tickets and being charged with reckless driving. Below, a Virginia reckless driving lawyer discusses the differences between a reckless driving by speed charge and a speeding ticket, how you can determine which you are facing, and what steps you should take in order to give yourself the best chance at minimizing harm. For more, call and schedule a consultation today.

Biggest Difference Between Reckless and Speeding Tickets

The main difference between reckless driving and speeding is that reckless driving is a much more serious charge than speeding. Speeding is a traffic infraction, which does not carry any possible jail time and carries a maximum fine of $250 under most circumstances. Reckless driving on the other hand is a criminal class 1 misdemeanor, which carries jail time of up to 12 months. A criminal charge that results in a conviction is permanent, whereas a speeding ticket that results in a conviction will go away from somebody’s driving record after just a few years.

In addition, there are different points that will be assessed by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Reckless driving offenses carry the maximum of 6 points and speeding tickets may carry as little as 3 points. Then there is the issue of being actually convicted of a criminal offense, which is present in reckless driving and not in the traffic infraction.

How To Tell Which You Are Facing

In addition to listening carefully when the law enforcement officer hands you the Virginia Uniform Summons, you can inspect the Virginia Uniform Summons to determine whether you have been charged with reckless driving or a lesser speeding infraction.

First look at the left side of the Virginia Uniform Summons under the section that says “Law Section” and the section that says “Charge.” It should refer to Virginia Code Section 46.2–862. There should also be in written words, “Reckless Driving.” It may include “Reckless Driving by Speed” or “R/D Speed.” The officer might also write the speed that you were travelling, which will be in excess of 80 mph or 20 mph over the posted speed limit.

Under that area, there will be instructions on how to prepay. The officer will most likely strike that area out by scratching it out or putting an “X” over it. It indicates that you cannot prepay your fines and you must come to court. This is true for all reckless driving infractions. If it is a speeding infraction, the officer will not strike out that information and the code section will be different.

It is import to reiterate that reckless driving by speed is not “just speeding.” Reckless driving by speed is a class 1 misdemeanor and it is not a speeding infraction. If you are found guilty, you could be sentenced to an active period of incarceration.

Role of An Attorney in a Reckless Driving Case

A role of an attorney in a reckless driving case is to shed reasonable doubt on the charges in an attempt to get the charge reduced to improper driving or speeding, or dismissed all together.  They can help do this by presenting evidence that will help you in your case and by cross examining the police officer to show reasonable doubt is present in his testimony.

Your attorney can also have you do things outside of court that may demonstrate that your driving did not rise to a level of recklessness. Sometimes, they can prove this by having you get your speedometer calibrated, which can be helpful if it happens to be off because then they can show the judge that the speed that you were going wouldn’t have been reckless except for the fact that you were unaware of how fast  you were actually going. An attorney can also present evidence to persuade the judge to be lenient in sentencing, even if your case lacks strong defenses. Depending on your case’s facts, this can mean a variety of different mitigation evidence and argument.

Other Evidence That Can Be Used

In terms of the actual reckless driving, you can also have witnesses that can testify as to how fast you were going or you can have evidence to mitigate the sentence itself such as community service or a driver improvement class.

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