Getting a ticket for reckless driving in Virginia is not like getting a standard speeding ticket. Regular speeding tickets are moving violations that require you to pay a fine. When you get a reckless driving charge, you can face up to 12 months in jail for a Class one misdemeanor. This means you will have a criminal charge on the same level as a DUI, assault and battery, or petit larceny.
To give yourself the best opportunity for a positive outcome, consider taking these five steps following your ticket.
1. Speak With a Lawyer
While you can represent yourself, this may not be the best approach. A local Virginian attorney knows the laws and has professional connections. They can provide you with a solid defense to either have your reckless driving ticket reduced or dismissed. In addition, a lawyer will routinely represent clients in front of the same judges. This gives them an advantage over someone representing themselves. The lawyer will know what the judge cares about most and what arguments will be the most effective.
2. Understand Your Options
While speaking with your lawyer, this is your opportunity to understand your options and the potential outcome of your case. You have two choices:
- Go to trial and fight the case
- Plead guilty and let the judge issue a sentence
At worst, you could end up paying up to $2,500 in fines, spending a year in jail, and having your driver’s license suspended. In addition, the conviction can remain on your driving record for up to 11 years.
While many judges will not order jail time for a first-time reckless driving ticket, it is possible if there are aggravating circumstances. A lawyer can help you understand the potential penalties you face, although a lawyer can never promise a particular outcome.
You may be able to get your charges reduced to a noncriminal speeding ticket or improper driving ticket. In some cases, the charges could be dismissed entirely.
3. Help With Your Defense
While hiring an experienced traffic attorney is a strong first step towards establishing a defense, it is not enough. Be actively involved in developing your defense so that your attorney has everything they need for effective representation. During the trial, the burden is on the state to prove each element. These include: that you were the one driving the vehicle, on the highway, in the country, and at the speed claimed.
While these may seem like obvious facts, your lawyer has plenty of opportunities to argue. There could be a doubt about the accuracy of the speed detection device. The officer would need a certification no older than six months to establish the accuracy of the radar, photo speed monitor, laser device, or microcomputer device.
Authorize your lawyer to perform full discovery to argue mitigating circumstances. A good driving record, being cooperative with the ticket issuing officer, and taking a Virginia DMV-approved driving course can all help your lawyer argue for a reduction of your ticket.
In rare cases, your lawyer could show that your vehicle needs its speedometer recalibrated. This would prove that you did not speed on purpose, and thus, were not guilty of reckless driving in Virginia.
4. Take a Safe Driving Course
You could take a safe driving course that is tailored to address aggressive driving in Virginia. There are classes available online that you can do from the comfort of your home. Proactively attending and completing one of these courses can positively impact your case.
5. Do Not Get Another Ticket
While you wait for your case to move through the court system, you need to follow the rules of the road. This could mean not driving at all if your license is suspended. If you still have your license, you should follow all road signs and posted speed limits. The worst thing you can do for your case is to get another ticket or get into an accident while your case is still pending.