Because reckless driving and DUI are both criminal charges, generally Class 1 misdemeanors, in Dumfries, the penalties are much more severe than compared with traffic offenses or moving violations. The following is a list of frequently asked questions regarding DUIs and reckless driving in Dumfries. For answers to your specific questions, contact a dedicated criminal defense attorney.
What are the punishments for reckless driving in Dumfries?
It’s a Class 1 misdemeanor and a jailable offense. You could receive up to a year in jail and a fine as high as $2,500 [ V.C.C. § 18.2-11(a)]. However, judges have discretion in handing down reckless driving sentences and are less likely to enforce maximum penalties against first-time offenders and others who may have mitigating circumstances to argue. Penalties include the possibility of driver’s license suspension for up to six months – though again, the length of that suspension is also up to the judge. Once your insurance company learns of the ticket, you rates will probably skyrocket. If you have several previous tickets on your record, not only could your insurance carrier drop your coverage but your suspension could be lengthened by the DMV because you have too many demerit points.
Why is reckless driving so serious in Virginia?
The Virginia Legislature recently pooled what it deemed to be the most serious driving offenses, i.e. those that posed the greatest danger to the general public, into the criminal charge of reckless driving. Incidents that can be cited as reason to charge reckless driving, rather than a lesser moving violation, include:
Do the same penalties apply for out-of-state drivers?
Yes, though your reckless driving conviction may not impact your driving privileges in your home state. However, Virginia will report the offense and any imposed suspension or points to your home state. Your insurance company will also find out about the conviction so your rates will likely rise. Even if nothing happens to you in your state, you will have a criminal record in Virginia. Though Virginia cannot suspend or revoke an out-of-state driver’s license, it can suspend your driving privileges here. Then, if you are stopped by any law enforcement officer in the Commonwealth during this period of suspension, you will be arrested for another Class 1 Misdemeanor charge of driving with a ”suspended license,” be taken to jail, fined, and have another black mark on your driving (and criminal) record.
Can I get my reckless driving charge in Dumfries dismissed or reduced?
A defense attorney often proves most valuable in these instances. They are well-versed in Virginia law and the customs of the Dumfries’ court, meaning they are more likely to be successful in their pursuit of lesser or dropped charges.
Should I just plead guilty and mail in the ticket with payment of the fine?
Unfortunately you can’t mail in a fine for reckless driving in Occoquan. The short answer is “No.” Reckless driving offenses are not a “pay and leave” charges like in many other states The idea behind making them so serious is law enforcement and the legislature want your attention. The best way to do that is to threaten you with time in jail. It has a sobering effect on many. You must appear before a judge so you will think twice before driving recklessly. If you fail to appear, you can be certain that an arrest warrant will be issued for you. This “zero tolerance” policy is spreading in popularity to other jurisdictions.
What if I got a reckless driving speeding ticket and think my speedometer is broken, can that help my case?
Yes, getting it checked and repaired can be a very good idea. If, for example, you were ticketed for driving 20 MPH over the limit; and your speedometer was reading 10 MPH slower, it could knock your offense out of the reckless driving category. But there’s no guarantee it will help. This is why it’s best for you to consult a lawyer before doing anything. Also, if you have received a reckless driving ticket for the “faulty brake” statute which can cover any other essential system that is in obvious disrepair. See V. C. C. § 46.2-853. The sooner you get it taken care of, the better things will go for you when it’s time to go to court.
If my license is suspended, how can I drive?
You can petition the court in which you were sentenced for a restricted license in order to drive, to and from work, school, healthcare or medically necessary appointments and to take children to and from school/day care, church, and other essential trips. See V.C.C. § 18.2-271.1 (E i-xiii).
Can I refuse to take a Breathalyzer or other sobriety test?
If you do, your driver’s license will be automatically and immediately suspended for a year: VCC § 18.2-268.3. You cannot request a restricted license during that year if you are convicted of DUI. But if you take the test and fail, that’s not good for you either. It’s a difficult decision. But in court, if you have a good defense lawyer, there might be ways to successfully justify your refusal, or lessen the effect of the BAC evidence against you.
What are the penalties for DUI in Dumfries?
A first conviction may result in up to 12 months in jail, a fine of from $250 –$2,500, and a one year driver’s license suspension. A second results in a minimum fine of $500 and a maximum of $2,500; up to a year in jail – with 20 to 40 days minimum mandatory incarceration — and a three year license suspension. Three or more DUI convictions in Dumfries may result in a fine of between $1,000 and $2,500, serving a mandatory minimum six months in jail (and up to a year), and indefinite driver’s license suspension: VCC § 18.2-270. And if you’re a minor (under 21) you’ll pay a minimum fine of $500, receive a one year driver’s license suspension, and have to perform at least 50 hours of community service: V.C.C § 18.2-266.1.
According to Virginia Criminal Code Section 18.2-266 you can be convicted of this offense if you operate a vehicle under the following conditions:
If my BAC measured 0.08 percent or more can I challenge the charge?
Common defense tactics that experienced lawyers are able to successfully mount include:
I burped a few minutes after blowing into the machine. Does this make a difference?
The device probably measured alcohol from your stomach instead of from your lungs; which can lead to inaccurate BAC levels. Other issues, such as suspects who have dentures, or recently used mouthwash could produce inaccurate readings. Contrary to what law enforcement and prosecutors might want us to think, BAC testing is not infallible
Visit our Prince William County Criminal page here.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law