Reckless driving in Virginia is more than just a traffic citation. You’re facing criminal charges that come with heavy consequences if found guilty. However, there are some things about reckless driving charges that you may not know. Learning about these five things will help you be better prepared for facing your reckless driving charge.
1. The Radar Gun Must Be Accurate
Because a reckless driving charge in Virginia isn’t like a typical traffic citation, there is a different standard for proving the charges. The Commonwealth must prove the criminal charges beyond a reasonable doubt. The Commonwealth must prove that you were driving above 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or 85 miles per hour or faster. The officer’s radar gun can be a helpful tool in proving your speed at the time of the charge.
In defense of this, your attorney can question the accuracy of the officer’s radar gun. The Commonwealth will then have to prove that the radar gun has been calibrated in the last six months and is in proper working order.
2. Your Speedometer Must Be Accurate
As part of proving the criminal charges, the Commonwealth will state that you intentionally traveled at a faster speed. However, your attorney can raise a defense that you didn’t know you were traveling at the speed the officer recorded you at. An incorrectly calibrated speedometer in your vehicle could be the culprit to your reckless driving charge. However, this defense is only viable if the speedometer has a lower reading than what you were caught traveling at. You can produce a sworn report outlining the calibration test results stating that the vehicle’s incorrectly calibrated speedometer.
3. Your GPS Could Help
If you have a GPS tracker on your vehicle, it could help prove your innocence. This tactic is tricky and may not be feasible for everyone. However, if you have a GPS that tracks location and speed, and you can prove its accuracy, then your attorney may be able to use this data to refute the officer’s claim of your speed. The GPS will need to show that your maximum speed was lower than the speed stated by the officer’s radar gun.
4. Reckless Driving Isn’t Just Speeding
Some drivers may find themselves facing a reckless driving charge that is unrelated to speed. In many situations, the officer will witness your reckless behavior. The Commonwealth will have to prove that you endangered “life, limb, or property of any person.” Being involved in an accident doesn’t automatically prove reckless driving behavior. Often a witness, street camera, or the driver’s own admission provides the evidence necessary to prove reckless driving. An officer could issue a reckless driving arrest if they observe a driver doing any of the following.
- Failing to give proper signals
- Failing to yield the right-of-way
- Spinning wheels or “burning rubber”
- Driving a vehicle with improperly adjusted or faulty brakes
- Driving next to another vehicle on a one-lane roadway
- Driving an overloaded vehicle that obstructs view or controls
- Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions
This is an example of why lawyers advise their clients to stay quiet and not offer information. People tend to offer too much information, unknowingly incriminating themselves. The officer can then include this information in their report.
5. Your Reckless Driving Charge Will Follow You
Because your reckless driving charge is criminal, you will face several penalties if convicted.
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- Up to 1 year in jail
- Up to 6 months suspended driving privileges
- 6 points on your Virginia driving record
- Criminal record
The longest-lasting of these is the criminal record. Depending on your ticket’s circumstances, it could be a misdemeanor or felony. It will follow you and impact several aspects of your life. Car insurance companies could raise their rates to ensure you. Rental car companies may deny you the ability to rent a vehicle. A conviction can have a negative impact on your government clearances and contracts. This also applies to law enforcement and military personnel.