In Loudoun County, reckless driving is prosecuted very harshly. They are charged as Class 1 misdemeanors, which means it is a criminal charge and will stay permanently on a person’s criminal record. Such a conviction has the potential to impact the rest of a person’s life, especially if their job is dependent on not having any felonies or misdemeanors, or if they have a commercial driver’s license. When facing a reckless driving charge, it is important to retain the services of an experienced Loudoun County reckless driving attorney. They understand the laws surrounding reckless driving by accident charges, and know the ways to present the defense and argue against the prosecution.
There is a variety of different evidence that a Loudoun County reckless driving attorney can use when someone is charged with reckless driving after an accident. This may include challenging testimonies from other drivers, obtaining witness statements from witnesses who were at the scene but not necessarily identified by the officer or the Commonwealth, and also preparing the defendant’s statements regarding what they observed.
Typically, reckless driving cases that arise out of accidents have more witnesses than reckless driving by speed cases, and there will also be different types of evidences presented. Often, pictures of the accident scene before and after the accident, pictures of any traffic control devices, pictures of the roadway and other supporting evidences will be helpful in a reckless driving charge that occurs after an accident.
There are no legal excuses to cause a collision except in extraordinary emergencies. However, if the accident wasn’t your fault and you are charged with reckless driving, you may have an absolute defense for the charge. Reckless driving, like any other criminal charge, must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.
That is, the Commonwealth must show evidence that satisfies the finder of facts that all the elements of the defense have been met. In Loudoun County reckless driving cases it is not uncommon that the defendant testifies on their own behalf. This testimony may create doubts in the mind of the judge, whether or not reckless driving actually occurred.
There is a lesser included offense that may be applicable to your case. This lesser included offense is called improper driving, which is found under Virginia Code Section 46.2 – 869, and it is essentially a charge that says all the elements of reckless driving are met however the degree of culpability is slight.
In these cases, which are often fender-benders or minor accidents, the judge or the officer will review the facts and ask the court to find the person guilty of improper driving, which is a lesser offense. Improper driving is a traffic infraction, so it is a much better result than a reckless driving conviction; however, it does not apply to all accident cases.
In some cases the driving behavior may not warrant the reduction, and in other cases the driving behavior maybe so slight that even improper driving is too harsh. Knowing exactly where you fall on the potential spectrum of reckless driving, improper driving or no charge at all, is one of the many reasons why you would want to contact an experienced Loudoun County reckless driving lawyer.
All forms of reckless driving are Class 1 misdemeanors and with the same maximum and minimum punishments. However there are certain special considerations if you are charged with reckless driving pursuant to Virginia Code Section 46.2- 852 or 46.2-853. Those special conditions are the availability of the lesser-included offense of improper driving as well as favorable case law for those charged with reckless driving.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law