Given that Fairfax County, Virginia is the most populous jurisdiction of the state and has several major roadways running through it, including I-495, I-66, and I-395, it is not uncommon for drivers to unwittingly face a traffic ticket without realizing they did anything wrong. Speeding, reckless driving, and other traffic infractions are commonly charged in Fairfax. If you are facing charges for a traffic-related offense, a skilled Fairfax traffic lawyer can provide you with in-depth information regarding your charges and the possible penalties you face. For help with criminal charges in Fairfax County, you can visit our Fairfax criminal defense page. En Español.
It comes as a surprise to many, especially out-of-state drivers, when they discover that reckless driving is not merely a simple traffic ticket in Fairfax, or anywhere in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, a reckless driving charge comes with a possible sentence of twelve months in jail and a fine as high as $2,500. Your driver’s license could also be suspended for up to six months. If you are a Virginia driver, that means six months without your Virginia license; for an out-of-state driver it means six months of suspension of their privilege to operate in the Commonwealth of Virginia. Conviction for a Virginia reckless driving charge carries a penalty of six demerit points on your record with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and if you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), your livelihood could even be threatened. Being charged with reckless driving while driving on a suspended license escalates the offense to a Class 6 felony in some circumstances, which carries much more severe penalties.
Reckless driving offenses are classified as such because they pose a greater risk to the general public. Aside from reckless driving, there are a number of traffic charges you could face in Fairfax County. Some of them include:
Reckless driving and other traffic offense convictions do not universally result in a jail sentence. A judge takes several things into account, including the offense itself, the circumstances surrounding the offense, and the defendant’s driving record. Some charges are viewed as more serious, such as passing a school bus with its lights flashing or causing a car crash that injures someone.
It is almost important to remember that certain traffic infractions might have some sort of civil equivalent by which certain pleas could serve as grounds for the defendant to be sued for causing injuries or property damage.
Penalties for traffic offenses typically include hefty fines and can potentially include jail time. The DMV can then add its own separate penalties in the form of demerit points, driver’s license suspension or revocation.
Out-of-state residents who are just passing through and receive a ticket might think they don’t need to worry about appearing in court or hiring a lawyer. However, with the vast majority of states’ law enforcement and traffic bureaus now linked electronically, drivers who don’t resolve a ticket from another state might find incur penalties in their home state. Though they might not need to appear in Virginia traffic court themselves, out-of-state defendants must have an attorney appear in court on their behalf.
Most states refuse to grant and renew driver’s licenses to residents who have unresolved tickets or warrants for arrest due to failure to appear in other states. If you are convicted in absentia in Virginia and a notice is sent to your state that Virginia has suspended your driving privileges here, it is possible that your home state will reciprocate the suspension. In other words, you cannot simply stick your head in the sand and expect a Virginia traffic matter to go away.
If you have been charged with a traffic-related or reckless driving offense, you would be wise to consult with a skilled Fairfax traffic attorney to determine the seriousness of the charges and what can be done about them. A Virginia traffic lawyer can provide you with more information about the charges you face and the possible defense strategies you can use to fight them. Contact his law office today for a free case evaluation.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law