Loudoun County Reckless Driving by Speed Charges
Reckless driving by speed in Loudoun County is covered by Virginia Code Section 46.2 – 862, and is most commonly charged when someone is alleged to have been exceeding the speed limit by more than 20 miles per hour or when they drive above 80 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit. With that said, you may also be charged with reckless driving by speed for other reasons, such as if you are driving at a speed too fast for the state highway conditions.
In the event that you or a loved one are charged it is imperative you seek the counsel of a Loudoun County reckless driving lawyer as reckless driving by speed is a criminal misdemeanor that stays on your criminal record forever. To learn more about what this charge could mean for you or what preliminary steps you can take, call and schedule a consultation today.
Severity of Reckless Driving Charges
Reckless driving by speed is a Class 1 criminal misdemeanor, whereas a speeding ticket is a traffic infraction and not a criminal charge. In Virginia, Class 1 misdemeanors, even traffic misdemeanors, are punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a $2500 fine, and/or a combination thereof. In addition, you may lose your Virginia license or your privilege to operate a vehicle in Virginia may be suspended for a period of up to six months. For traffic infractions, the maximum possible penalty is a $250 fine in most circumstances.
Impact on Driving Record
Reckless driving is a criminal offense on your record, meaning that if you are convicted of reckless driving and you are subsequently asked by an employer, security clearance or job application if you have been convicted of a criminal misdemeanor, your answer must be ‘Yes.” This is very different from a speeding traffic infraction. Additionally, your Virginia driving record will note that you have been convicted of reckless driving.
How Reckless Driving can Impact a Commercial Driver’s License
If you are a CDL driver, reckless driving by speed may have severe consequences. CDL drivers have different standards required when it comes to inspections and points that are carried on their license. Specific requirements are noted by the Virginia DMV, therefore when talking to your attorney about defenses and mitigating circumstances, the commercial driver will also have to discuss effects it will have on their driver’s license and share a copy of their commercial driving transcript with the attorney to review and assess the potential outcomes.
Defenses For Excessive Speed
There are very few legal justifications for driving at an excess of 20 miles per hour above the posted speed limit or driving recklessly. However, depending on the circumstances of your charge, there may be additional circumstances that apply. For example, if you are the first responder responding to an emergency situation or if you have an emergency medical situation where there is an injured family or friend, it may be a genuine emergency that excuses culpability.
As this is a very limited scenario, it will likely be beneficial to have an attorney represent you and talk to the Commonwealth Attorney, the prosecutor about how your specific circumstances led to a reckless driving by speed charge.
Determining What You Are Being Charged With
You must examine your Virginia Uniform Summons to discern between a speeding ticket or a reckless driving by speed ticket. Your potential charge is on the left side of the summons just below the court’s address, where there will be a section that says ‘Law Section’ and ‘Charge’. The Law Section is 46.2 – 862 for reckless driving by speed.
In addition, on the Virginia Uniform Summons just above the Law Section, it also says ‘Charge’. Under ‘Charge’, if the officer wrote the words ‘Reckless’, then it is a reckless driving charge. Even when it says ‘ By Speed’ such as 80/55, you have been charged with reckless driving and not speeding if the reckless language is present and the code section matches up.
When the officer writes you a simple speeding ticket, it will have a different code section and it will also say ‘Speeding’ with no mention of reckless driving.
Another hint for determining whether or not you have been charged with reckless driving is whether or not the officer has specified that you must come to court. Under the ‘Law Section’, there is a box with prepayment instructions for the fine at the top. If this box is scratched out that means your appearance is required in court. For reckless driving, your appearance is always required in court until an attorney tells you otherwise depending on the circumstances of your case. For a speeding infraction, you may go online and prepay your ticket.
Reasons for Hiring a Loudoun County Speeding Attorney
There are a variety of reasons why you may want to hire a lawyer if you are charged with violating Virginia Code Section 46.2 – 862 or reckless driving by speed. The most common reason is that it is uncommon for any one driver to have received multiple reckless driving tickets. Therefore, most individuals are too inexperienced to represent themselves in court for this charge.
Reckless driving attorneys on the other hand, handle these cases on a regular basis, especially in Loudoun County. Depending on the speed, there may be different areas for mitigation to be discussed and the prosecutor may be willing to discuss these issues for a better result. However, in Loudoun County, prosecutors do not negotiate with pro se defendants as a policy. Therefore, hiring an attorney is the only way that you can get access to the mitigation process.
Important Steps a Speeding Attorney Will Take to Help
There are many important steps an experienced Virginia Reckless Driving attorney will take to help when you are charged with reckless driving.
- First, the attorney will go through the events that led to your reckless driving charges.
- Second, the attorney will talk about your specific driving background as well as your personal background and employment issues that maybe linked to your background that would help mitigate the circumstances.
- Next, the attorney will ask you for documents, most notably the Virginia Driving Records, which can be obtained from the DMV in person or online.
- The defense lawyer will come to court with you and discuss the possible steps or discuss the facts and circumstances of the case with the charging officer.
- They will discuss how the speed was determined, what technology was used to help with that determination and whether or not the technology was properly calibrated and maintained properly.
Depending on the facts and circumstances of your case, there may be video and other forensic evidence available for reckless driving charge. Next, your attorney will use all this information and start negotiations with the Commonwealth Attorney.
In Loudoun County, Assistant Commonwealth Attorneys prosecute reckless driving cases. The attorney will then discuss with you whether or not a trial in front of the judge is a better option or making up an agreement with the commonwealth attorney is in your best interests. Together, the client and your attorney discuss the decision but the final call is ultimately left up to the client.