The long term implications of a reckless driving conviction are potential criminal penalties, loss of license, high fines, Virginia DMV points as well as the potential for higher insurance rates. Also, the potential for DMV suspensions if you receive other traffic offenses or other reckless driving offenses within a certain period of time. It may also mean the disclosure of a criminal misdemeanor conviction if asked by your job or a security client. So while the short time implications are typically a fine or jail time and potential loss of driving privileges, the long term implications are spread over time and that would be the criminal record, the insurance implications, as well as these long term driver’s license implications.
The most common mistake in reckless driving that I see on a daily basis is one that gets played out in court and that is simply walking in and pleading guilty to the offense. This is the worst thing you can do because it takes all the discretion away from the prosecutor, the officer, and the judge.
Sometimes the judge can still grant leniency and find someone not guilty or guilty of a lesser offense after discussing the plea further. Typically when someone walks in and admits guilt, they’re going to be found guilty. Now if they say there are certain circumstances that may assist in the mitigation of their efforts, then they may receive less punishment. But by simply walking in and admitting guilt they’ve taken all the potential defenses they may have off the table. So that’s the most common mistake I see on a daily basis.
The main thing that I look for in a reckless driving case depends on the nature of the case. Whenever I’m defending a reckless driving case I’m going to look at the specific elements of that specific type of reckless driving. For example, in a speeding case I’m going to look at how the officer determined the speed and what method of approved speed determination did they use. In Virginia, there are four methods approved speed determination and I’m going to look at what defenses may be available. I’m going to look at what mitigating circumstances may have occurred at the time of the event such as if a person was ill, attending to an emergency, or if they had some other reason to be driving the way they were.
Also, I look for any evidence that must be proven or preserved by the officer or the Commonwealth Attorney in order to prove the case. I’ll also look at the background of my client, did they have prior offenses? Did they have a prior offense where they were charged more seriously and then there was leniency previously? What are their expectations? What is their driving background? All sorts of things to determine what I’m dealing with before I go into court and before I approach a potential negotiation with an officer.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law