An Educated Client is the Best Client - Get Your Virginia DUI Questions Answered Here
Many people who have been cited for reckless driving or arrested for drunk driving in Virginia have common questions, and our Manassas DUI defense lawyers developed this section on our website to educate, inform and help you through this difficult time. When you are facing a challenging case, look for your answers here. If you cannot locate the answer to your specific question, please give us a call, and our qualified Northern Virginia criminal defense attorneys will answer your legal questions.
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Do I have to report a reckless driving conviction on a job application?
It's becoming common for employers to conduct a criminal background check as a condition of a job offer. As such, you may need to report a reckless driving conviction on your job application.
How to Handle Reckless Driving Charges on a Job Application
The key to completing any job application is to understand specifically what is being asked. Most applications ask about your criminal background in one of three ways:
- Have you ever been charged with a crime? You need to answer yes to this question, even if your charge is later dismissed. Reckless driving is a criminal offense.
- Have you ever been convicted of a crime? You can answer no if your charge was dismissed, although a dismissal by completing community service or a driver improvement clinic qualifies as a deferred disposition and may still be required to be reported on some applications.
- Have you been convicted of a felony? Although reckless driving can sometimes be a felony charge, it's typically only a misdemeanor.
If you fail to include the charge when required and are offered the job, you could be terminated at a later date if your employer uncovers the deception.
Effect on Your Employment Prospects
Whether or not a reckless driving charge will affect your chance of being offered the position will depend on the specific requirements of the job and your existing record. A reckless driving charge is more likely to be a problem if the job requires driving or if you already have a criminal record.
In many cases, an employer will give you a chance to explain the circumstances behind the charge. It's a good idea to be prepared with an explanation before you go to an interview.
How T. Kevin Wilson Can Help
Since a reckless driving conviction can make job hunting more challenging, it's never a good idea to just pay the ticket and hope for the best. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is dedicated to helping drivers build an aggressive defense to reduce or drop reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no obligation consultation.
I wasn’t exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour. Why was I arrested for reckless driving speeding?
Although many cases of reckless driving in Virginia involve drivers who were exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour, you can still be charged with reckless driving even if weren't speeding. Regardless of the posted speed limit, law enforcement officers can charge you with reckless driving if they believe you were traveling too fast for the weather or traffic conditions.
Virginia Law Regarding Speed and Road Conditions
Virginia code § 46.2-861 states: "A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who exceeds a reasonable speed under the circumstances and traffic conditions existing at the time, regardless of any posted speed limit."
Some factors that might affect whether or not you're charged with this offense include
- Icy roads
- Road construction
- Slowed traffic due to a recent accident
- Other emergency conditions
Defending Against the Charge
Compared to other aspects of the reckless driving code, § 46.2-861 is very much open to interpretation. The key points to remember when building a defense are "unreasonable" and "given the conditions." If you can show evidence indicating that your behavior was not unreasonable, you may be able to have the charge dropped. You may present evidence such as a past driving record indicating safe behavior, your familiarity with the roads, and the following distance of other vehicles to support your claim. Agreeing to community service or attending a driver improvement class may also be options in some circumstances.
Protect Your Rights by Hiring an Attorney
Reckless driving is a criminal charge, which makes it much more serious than a simple traffic violation. If you're convicted, you'll face hefty fines, jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record that can affect future education and employment opportunities. The best way to protect your rights is to hire an attorney who is experienced in advocating for drivers accused of this offense.
T. Kevin Wilson is dedicated to helping Virginia drivers minimize the negative consequences of reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
Can I be arrested for reckless driving in a parking lot?
Contrary to popular belief, you don't necessarily need to be driving on a public roadway to be charged with reckless driving. You can be charged with reckless driving for demonstrating unsafe behavior while on the premises of any establishment providing parking spaces for customers, patrons, or employees.
Understanding Virginia Code §46.2-864
Virginia Code §46.2-864 specifically states that parking lot reckless driving charges must be based on behavior that is endangering the life, limb, or property of any person. This is a departure from other sections for the Virginia Code, which only require that you commit a specific violation such as passing a stopped school bus or driving two abreast in a single lane.
Examples of some behaviors that might receive a reckless driving charge in a parking lot include:
- Doing donuts
- Spinning tires
You don't necessarily have to cause an accident to be charged with this form of reckless driving. Officers are given significant discretion when it comes to issuing citations, which means they can charge you if they believe you placed others at risk. You can be ticketed in the parking lot of any business, church, school, nonprofit organization, or government office.
Defending Against the Charge
Submitting testimony of witnesses or security video from the parking lot might corroborate your version of the events. Unfortunately, however, this type of case often comes down to your word against the officer’s. This means you may need to employ strategies such as providing a copy of your driving record, attending a driver improvement clinic, or completing community service to demonstrate remorse for your actions.
Since reckless driving is a criminal charge and not a simple traffic violation, a conviction can mean hefty fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. Protect yourself by hiring an experienced attorney who can advise you on the best way to reduce or drop the charge. To learn more, call to schedule a free initial consultation with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
Should I cooperate with police if they try to arrest me for a DUI?
Being stopped by the police can be an intimidating and somewhat frightening experience, especially when you've been accused of driving under the influence. Cooperating with the officer is in your best interest, but keep in mind that you are not required to submit to a breathalyzer or field sobriety tests if you haven't been arrested.
How to Handle Being Stopped for Suspicion of a DUI
If an officer pulls you over, keep in mind the following tips:
- Be polite and respectful. Remember that the officer is only doing his or her job.
- Don't apologize, admit wrongdoing, or make excuses for your behavior.
- Provide your driver's license and insurance information when requested.
- Never, under any circumstances, try to physically resist arrest.
You are not legally required to agree to submit to field sobriety testing, but the officer may weigh your refusal to do so when determining if there is probable cause for arrest. If you opt to take a field sobriety test, be sure to inform the officer of any medical conditions you have that may affect the results. For example, a bad knee or an inner ear infection would likely affect your ability to balance on one leg.
You do not need to take a preliminary breath test before you've been arrested. This test is often asked for as part of field sobriety testing, but refusing to submit to the test can't be used against you as evidence in court.
Virginia's Implied Consent Law
Virginia's implied consent law requires you to submit to a blood test or breath test only if you've been arrested for a DUI because the officer has probable cause to believe you've been drinking or are under the influence of illegal drugs. This test must be completed within three hours of the time you were arrested. Refusing to take the test results in a one-year suspension of your driver's license for the first offense.
Retaining Legal Representation
A DUI charge requires an aggressive defense from an experienced attorney. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia DUI attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
Can I be charged with DUI and reckless driving at the same time?
It is a common misconception that drivers in Virginia can't be charged with a DUI and reckless driving at the same time. While you can't be charged under the general reckless driving statute § 46.2-852, you can be charged with both offenses if your behavior falls under another section of the code.
Understanding Virginia's Reckless Driving and DUI Law
Virginia statute § 19.2-294.1 states, "Whenever any person is charged with a violation of § 18.2-266 or any similar ordinances of any county, city, or town and with reckless driving in violation of § 46.2-852 or any ordinance of any county, city or town incorporating § 46.2-852, growing out of the same act or acts and is convicted of one of these charges, the court shall dismiss the remaining charge."
Sometimes referred to as the general reckless driving statute, § 46.2-852 states, "Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving."
Although you can't be convicted of both a DUI and reckless driving under § 46.2-852 if both charges are from the same incident, you can still receive a DUI and reckless driving conviction if your behavior falls under one of the following statutes:
- § 46.2-853 Driving vehicle which is not under control; faulty brakes
- § 46.2-854 Passing on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve
- § 46.2-855 Driving with driver's view obstructed or control impaired
- § 46.2-856 Passing two vehicles abreast
- § 46.2-857 Driving two abreast in a single lane
- § 46.2-858 Passing at a railroad grade crossing
- § 46.2-859 Passing a stopped school bus
- § 46.2-860 Failing to give proper signals
- § 46.2-861 Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions
- § 46.2-862 Exceeding speed limit
- § 46.2-863 Failure to yield right-of-way
- § 46.2-864 Reckless driving on parking lots, etc.
- § 46.2-865 Racing
Preparing the Strongest Possible Defense
If you're facing both a DUI and a reckless driving charge, it's vital that you contact an experienced attorney who can help you evaluate your legal options. T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping Virginia drivers mount an aggressive defense against DUI and reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
If the court orders me to complete community service after a reckless driving conviction, what will I have to do?
Virginia often uses community service as an alternative to incarceration for people who've been convicted of reckless driving. If you're told to complete community service by the court, you'll be provided with an order that explains the next steps.
Completing Your Community Service Hours
In many cases, the court will order community service to be completed through the court's community corrections department. You'll need to contact the department to make sure the community service you want to do will fulfill the terms of the court’s order. The community corrections office may partner with specific agencies to provide community service opportunities or require supervision and formal verification of your hours.
If you're not referred to the court's community corrections department, your community service must still be for a recognized nonprofit organization. This can include nationally recognized charitable groups such as the Salvation Army, Red Cross, Habitat for Humanity, or Goodwill as well as local organizations such as a food bank or homeless shelter. You can't under any circumstances volunteer at a for-profit business and use the hours as your court-mandated community service.
It is best to check with your attorney before you make plans to begin your community service hours. While volunteering is always a noble endeavor, it's important to make sure your hours can actually be used for their intended purpose so you're not forced to complete them twice.
Offering to Complete Community Service
If you're not ordered to complete community service by the court, volunteering to do so before your case is heard by the judge can be a good way to express remorse for your actions. Judges are often more likely to be lenient with offenders who show this type of initiative, but you'll want to explore this option further with your attorney to determine if it's the most effective use of your time.
T. Kevin Wilson Can Help
Reckless driving is a criminal offense, not a simple traffic ticket. A conviction carries hefty fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. Don't simply pay your ticket and hope for the best. To learn more about your options, call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
How should I prepare for my first meeting with a reckless driving defense lawyer?
If you've never required legal assistance before, you may be wondering what to expect when you first meet with a reckless driving defense lawyer. Fortunately, only minimal preparation is required.
5 Tips for Meeting With a Reckless Driving Defense Lawyer
Reckless driving lawyers typically provide a free initial consultation. The purpose of this short meeting is to review the basic elements of your case and decide if you wish to formally retain the lawyer to provide your legal representation. Here are some helpful tips for handling this meeting:
- Bring any documentation you have. If you have pictures, witness contact information, a copy of the police report, or other documentation that's relevant to your case, bring it with you for the lawyer to review.
- Be honest. Your lawyer will ask about the circumstances of your arrest, as well as your past criminal record. The questions may seem irrelevant or intrusive, but this information is necessary to build an effective defense on your behalf.
- Don't be afraid to ask questions. Your lawyer will give you an opportunity to ask any questions you might have about his background and qualifications to determine if he's a good fit for your case.
- Remember that this is a partnership. Ask your lawyer what you can do to help your case as well as what steps you can take to avoid damaging your case.
- Read the retainer agreement carefully. You are not required to hire the first attorney you meet with. However, if you decide you would like the lawyer to represent you, it's important that you read the retainer agreement carefully so you understand what costs are associated with representation.
Building the Strongest Possible Defense
Reckless driving is considered a criminal offense, leading to hefty fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record if you're convicted. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson has extensive experience helping clients build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Should I save some money and represent myself after a reckless driving charge?
The DIY approach may be a great idea when it comes to making minor home repairs or learning how to cook a dish from your favorite restaurant, but it's not the best plan when it comes to handling a reckless driving charge. Although you have the legal right to choose to represent yourself, this is a decision that can end up costing much more than you'd save in attorney's fees.
The Cost of a Reckless Driving Conviction
If you're convicted of reckless driving, you face a number of penalties that can be very expensive, including the following:
- Jail time
- License suspension, with no guarantee of restricted driving privileges
- Raised insurance rates when you get your license back
- The stigma of a criminal record, making it more difficult to pass a pre-employment background check
- The possibility of job loss, if your employment requires a security clearance or a valid CDL
You have 10 calendar days to appeal any conviction, with the option to request a jury trial on appeal. However, if you're convicted, you'll be stuck with the court costs for the trial in addition to all of the penalties listed above.
How an Attorney Can Help
Virginia's reckless driving laws can be quite complex, which is why it's best to hire an experienced attorney who can guide you through the process. Don't make the mistake of relying on ineffective amateur defenses such as "I was only going with the flow" or "The officer stopped the wrong car."
Your attorney can explain how your past driving record affects your case, help you obtain a speedometer calibration or other evidence to support your case, and explore options such as reducing the charge to a lesser offense like improper driving. In some cases, your attorney may even be able to appear in court on your behalf so you don't need to schedule time off work to attend to the matter yourself.
Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson has extensive experience helping clients build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges and is intimately familiar with the intricacies of the state's traffic laws. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Is it possible to fail the horizontal gaze nystagmus test if you haven't been drinking?
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is a common field sobriety test used to determine probable cause for a DUI arrest. However, the test is not always accurate.
About the Horizontal Gaze Nystagmus Test
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is a type of field sobriety test used to measure nystagmus, which is the medical term for an involuntary jerking of the eyeballs. Nystagmus can occur for many reasons, but becomes more pronounced when someone is intoxicated.
To perform the test, an officer will hold a pen or other small object roughly 12 to 15 inches from your nose. He will slowly move it from one side to the other and ask you to follow the object with your eyes while keeping your head still.
The officer will look for jerking or bouncing eye movements while following the object, nystagmus that sets in before your eyes reach a 45-degree angle, or nystagmus at maximum deviation. Four or more observances of nystagmus are probable cause for a DUI arrest.
Reasons for a Failed Test
The horizontal gaze nystagmus test is only accurate in about 77% of cases. Reasons for a failed test could include:
- You suffer from a natural nystagmus in your eyes.
- You have the flu or an inner ear infection.
- You've been diagnosed with muscular dystrophy, multiple sclerosis, epilepsy, or glaucoma.
- You were recently engaged in activities causing eyestrain or eye muscle fatigue.
- You were taking certain pain medications, anticonvulsants, or antihistamines.
- The officer moved the object too quickly.
- The officer made the object come too close to your eyes.
- You weren't allowed enough time to follow the object during the test.
If you were drinking several hours earlier, keep in mind that it's possible to have a nystagmus even after all alcohol clears from your blood.
Building an Aggressive Defense
Failing the horizontal gaze nystagmus test shouldn't be a reason for panic. An experienced DUI defense attorney can help you build an aggressive defense by investigating every option available to support your case. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
Can I be arrested for reckless driving if the police officer didn’t witness me doing anything wrong?
Although many Virginia drivers do receive reckless driving citations after a police officer sees them speeding or engaging in other unsafe behavior, an officer doesn't necessarily need to directly witness unsafe behavior to issue a ticket. After an accident, it's actually common for the driver who is thought to be at fault to be charged with reckless driving once an officer arrives on the scene.
Reckless Driving Charges Following an Auto Accident
Although officers generally have a fair amount of discretion when issuing reckless driving citations, this is not the case if an accident occurs. After a car accident causing injury or property damage, officers are considered duty-bound to issue some sort of ticket to the driver thought to be at fault.
In many cases, the officer charges the driver thought to be at fault with reckless driving. Since reckless driving encompasses so many different behaviors, this is the charge that's used as a catch-all if the officer isn't exactly sure what happened. You can be charged under the state's general reckless driving laws or under the statute that governs failure to maintain control of your vehicle.
Defending Against a Reckless Driving Charge
If you've been charged with reckless driving, it's important to remember that the facts surrounding an accident are rarely black and white. Providing a reasonable explanation for the accident can reduce your culpability by showing that you weren't engaging in deliberately reckless behavior.
You may have lost control of your vehicle, but it's possible that poor weather, improperly maintained roads, or sudden mechanical problems played a factor in the accident. Swerving to avoid a deer or a child who ran into the road could cause an accident that wouldn't be your fault. Medical emergencies are another example of a contributing factor that you may need to address.
The Value of Experienced Legal RepresentationReckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor and not a simple traffic ticket. It comes with hefty fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. Protect yourself by consulting an experienced reckless driving attorney to build the strongest possible defense. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
I was in an accident after my brakes failed and I was charged with reckless driving. Will I be convicted?
After an accident causing injury or property damage, Virginia law enforcement officers are typically considered duty-bound to issue a citation. Even if you believe your accident was caused by brake failure, you can still be charged with reckless driving because you failed to maintain control of your vehicle. However, there are some options available to defend against the charge.
Understanding Virginia's Reckless Driving Law
Virginia Code Section 46.2–853 allows you to be charged with reckless driving for not having your vehicle under control or having faulty brakes. Officers may occasionally write "improper brakes" or "fail to maintain control" on the ticket, but it's still a reckless driving charge.
It may seem unfair to be charged with a criminal offense for having faulty brakes, but the law requires drivers to take all reasonable precautions to prevent accidents. This includes having your vehicle serviced regularly.
That being said, you may be able to defend against the change by showing that your vehicle had been regularly serviced and that no problems had been found in a recent safety inspection. Judges have a fair amount of discretion in reckless driving cases, so a sudden and completely unexpected brake failure is more likely to be viewed as an unfortunate accident.
Another possible avenue of defense would be to show that your vehicle's make and model had a known history of brake failure. However, this is only appropriate if you had no knowledge of the issue before the accident. If you knew of the issue and failed to correct it, you'd be considered responsible.
T. Kevin Wilson Can Help
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, with a maximum punishment of a $2,500 fine, 12 months in jail, and a six-month license suspension. However, an experienced attorney can often build a case to drop or reduce the charge to a lesser offense. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
Can I be charged with reckless driving for having too much stuff in my car?
If you haven't cleaned out your car in a while, you might want to add this chore to your to-do list. If your clutter obstructs your view, you could be charged with reckless driving.
Virginia's Reckless Driving Law
Virginia law requires you to have a clear view of the front, back, and side windows of your vehicle. If you are transporting objects or have passengers who are blocking your view, you can legally be charged with reckless driving. It does not matter if you have an "overloaded" bumper sticker or your caution lights are on.
You must also be able to easily access the driving mechanisms of the vehicle. This means any objects in your car that affect your ability to steer, shift, brake, or signal can result in a reckless driving ticket.
How Officer Discretion Affects the Charge
This type of reckless driving case often relies heavily on officer discretion. It's not automatically illegal to have multiple passengers or to be transporting bulky objects in your car. It's left up to the officer to determine if your vehicle is overloaded or your view is obstructed in a way that poses a threat to public safety.
If you're charged with this type of reckless driving, you will most likely need to present evidence affirming that your view was clear or that you were still able safely operate your vehicle. Relying on your past record as a safe driver would be one way to show that you have good judgement and are committed to being responsible on the road.
Since reckless driving is a criminal offense, a conviction carries hefty fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. Don't simply pay your ticket and hope for the best. An experienced attorney can help you build an aggressive defense or develop a strategy to reduce the charge to a lesser offense such as improper driving. To learn more about your options, call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
What constitutes probable cause for a DUI arrest?
Before an officer can legally arrest you for a DUI, he must have probable cause you were operating a motor vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
About Probable Cause
Essentially, probable cause means that an officer has a reasonable suspicion that you're legally impaired. Examples of behavior that constitute probable cause for a traffic stop include:
- Swerving, weaving, drifting, or otherwise having difficulty staying in the correct lane.
- Driving too slowly, too fast, or making improper changes in your speed.
- Driving without your headlights, stopping for no apparent reason, improper signaling, or other types of vigilance problems.
- Demonstrating poor judgement through actions such as tailgating, arguing with another driver, or improper stopping in response to a police signal.
If you've already been pulled over, probable cause that you've been drinking includes:
- The smell of alcohol on your breath
- Glassy or bloodshot eyes
- Slurred speech
- A verbal admission of intoxication
- Failing field sobriety tests such as the walk-and-turn, one leg stand, or the horizontal gaze nystagmus test
- Failing a preliminary breath test
Probable Cause and DUI Checkpoints
DUI checkpoints are permissible under Virginia law, but only if they meet specific criteria. They must be publicized in advance and police officers aren't allowed to stop every vehicle that passes. They must use a mathematical formula to choose who gets stopped, or wait for driver behavior to give them probable cause.
Building Your DUI Defense
If you've been arrested for a DUI, challenging the legality of your arrest may be one option to consider. When making an arrest, officers are supposed to consider the totality of your circumstances. For instance, one example of erratic driving could mean you were distracted for a second or two. However, several examples of erratic behavior combined with slurred speech and a failed sobriety test provides a stronger justification for your arrest.
Having a skilled attorney prepare your DUI defense ensures he'll investigate every option available to support your case. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping drivers avoid the stiff penalties associated with a DUI conviction. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
Can I be arrested for reckless driving if I fail to use my turn signal?
Using your turn signals is more than just a good way to be courteous to other drivers. Turn signals are legally required as a key component of safe driving behavior. If you fail to signal a turn, a Virginia law enforcement officer can decide to arrest you for reckless driving.
Failing to Use Your Turn Signal Can Have Big Consequences
Virginia law requires you to provide "adequate and timely signals of intention to turn, partly turn, slow down, or stop." This is so your intended path is clearly communicated to others on the road.
According to the Virginia Driver's Manual, this means you should signal at least 100 feet ahead of the turn. This is roughly three to four seconds before you turn. If there is a stop sign or traffic light at the intersection, you're also required to come to a complete stop before turning.
If you forget to use your turn signal because you're distracted, inattentive, or in a hurry to get to your destination, you can be charged with reckless driving. It does not matter if you've broken no other traffic laws and no one is hurt because of your actions.
More Than Just a Traffic Ticket
Many drivers with an otherwise spotless record are surprised to learn that reckless driving is a criminal charge and not a simple traffic violation. This means that a conviction carries hefty fines as well as the possibility of jail time. You'll also be left with the stigma of a criminal record that can affect future employment opportunities, your ability to maintain an active security clearance, and more.
To protect your rights, it's best to hire an experienced attorney who can help you develop the strongest possible defense. Some of the options available to you might include attending a driver improvement clinic or completing community service hours in exchange for having the charge reduced to a traffic violation such as improper driving. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
Am I eligible for a restricted license if I’ve been convicted of reckless driving in Virginia?
For many people, the most stressful aspect of a reckless driving conviction is dealing with the loss of driving privileges. Fortunately, it's often possible to receive a restricted license if you petition the court.
Receiving a Restricted License
If you were convicted of reckless driving, the court can grant you a restricted license at the time of the conviction. The judge is not required to approve your request for a restricted license, but demonstrating a legitimate need for transportation and being respectful throughout the process can increase the odds of your request being granted.
A restricted license allows you to drive only during specific times, typically for purposes deemed of high importance by the court. For example:
- Traveling to and from work or school
- Necessary transportation during working hours
- Traveling to and from medical appointments
- Transporting your minor child to school or attending child visitation
- Attending worship services
- Traveling to and from court or a probation program
In most cases, the restricted license is a green piece of paper that lists your specific driving restrictions. You must sign the paper and keep it with you at all times.
Penalties for Violating the Terms of a Restricted License
You are not allowed to drive for any reason that is not specifically listed on your restricted license. This includes small side trips such as stopping to get groceries on your way home from your child's school or giving a coworker a ride to or from work. Driving for unauthorized purposes can lead to your restricted license being revoked, as well as adding additional fines or potential jail time to your sentence.
The Value of Skilled Legal Representation
While a reckless driving conviction carries stiff penalties, having a skilled attorney to guide you through the process can help you with steps such as requesting a restricted license or filing an appeal. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping clients build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
If my GPS said I wasn't going as fast as what the arresting officer claimed, can I use this to get out of a reckless driving charge?
Your car's GPS can be a lifesaver when you need directions to your destination, but it won't necessarily be effective as evidence in a reckless driving case.
How You May Be Able to Use GPS Evidence in a Reckless Driving Case
The problem with using GPS evidence in your reckless driving case is that you'll need to prove your GPS is working correctly. A trooper's radar unit is regularly checked to make sure it is calibrated appropriately. A GPS unit isn't, since its main function is to make sure you can find your way to your destination.
If you want to use GPS evidence in your reckless driving case, your attorney will likely recommend obtaining a speedometer calibration. The results of a speedometer calibration, when compared to your GPS, can be used to verify that the evidence you're presenting is correct.
Speedometer calibration is done with a machine called a dynamometer. With your car's wheels resting on the dynamometer's cylinders, the dynamometer shows how fast you would be traveling if you were on the road. This reading is then compared to what your speedometer says.
If the results of the speedometer calibration aren't in your favor, you don't have to submit the evidence unless the prosecution requests it. Since speedometer calibrations are fairly inexpensive to obtain, this makes them well worth investigating as an avenue of defense in your reckless driving case.
GPS evidence supported by a speedometer calibration is most likely to be effective if you were initially clocked at close to Virginia's reckless driving cutoff of 20 miles over the posted speed limit or 80 miles per hour regardless of the posted speed limit. In these cases, a discrepancy of a few miles can typically get your charge reduced to a lesser offense.
Building the Strongest Possible Defense
Since reckless driving is considered a criminal offense and not a simple traffic violation, you'll face hefty fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record if you're convicted. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping clients build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Will a reckless driving conviction affect my security clearance?
If you're in the military or work for the government in a capacity that involves handling sensitive information, maintaining an active security clearance may be an essential condition of your employment. While one reckless driving charge won't necessary prevent you from keeping your security clearance, you may run into problems if there are other factors that call your judgement into question.
Maintaining Your Security Clearance
Reckless driving is typically a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is considered a criminal charge that's more serious than a simple traffic ticket. However, the charge won't automatically prevent you from keeping a valid security clearance. A number of factors will be considered, including:
- Your position
- Your level of security clearance
- Whether or not this is your first reckless driving offense
- If you have other misdemeanor offenses on your record
The rules for maintaining a security clearance become stricter as you advance in your career. For example, a low-level security clearance may only require that you report felony convictions. A mid-level clearance may be sympathetic to one mistake, but less understanding if your record suggests a pattern of irresponsible behavior. To figure out the best way to proceed, you'll need to speak to your clearance officer to learn more about how a reckless driving charge may affect your security clearance.
How an Attorney Can Help
If you maintain an active security clearance and are facing a reckless driving charge, it would be a grave mistake to simply pay the fine and accept the consequences. With the assistance of an experienced attorney, you may be able to have the charge reduced to a lesser offense or dropped all together. For example, agreeing to complete a driver improvement clinic or community service may allow you to have your charge reduced to the lesser offense of improper driving.
Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping clients build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges, with a proven record of success. To learn more about your options, call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
If reckless driving is a crime, why was I not handcuffed or taken to the station?
Under Virginia law, reckless driving is considered a criminal charge and not a simple traffic violation. However, it's unlikely that you would be handcuffed or taken to the station if you were charged with this offense.
Your Ticket Is a Summons to Appear in Court
When you're pulled over for reckless driving, the paper ticket the officer gives you is actually a legal summons replacing traditional forms of custodial arrest. There will be a date, time, and location listed where you are expected to appear in court.
When you sign the ticket, you're promising to appear in court to address the charge. If you refuse to sign or the officer has reason to believe you don't intend to come to court, you can be taken into custody and booked on the charge. Therefore, it's in your best interests to sign the ticket regardless of whether you believe you're guilty of the offense.
The Court Process
After you receive a reckless driving ticket, it's important not to panic. The penalties associated with the charge are significant, but an experienced attorney can often get the charge reduced or dropped. There are a number of different defenses that you can use, such as obtaining a speedometer calibration, arguing that your conduct was due to a medical emergency, or agreeing to complete a driver improvement clinic.
When you appear in court, it's recommended that you dress conservatively in business casual attire. Be polite and respectful throughout the process. If you choose to testify, keep your testimony concise and stick to the relevant facts. If you will need special accommodations due to a disability or limited command of the English language, you should have your attorney request the necessary accommodations ahead of your appearance.
If you aren't a Virginia resident or you are worried that you won't be able to take time away from work to appear in court, your attorney may be able to appear on your behalf. To learn more about your options, call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
I have a CDL and I drive a commercial vehicle for work. How will a reckless driving conviction impact my ability to work?
If you are a truck driver who depends on your CDL to earn a living, a reckless driving conviction can have serious consequences.
Virginia classifies the following as serious offenses for commercial motor vehicle drivers:
- Reckless driving
- Speeding 15 mph or more above the speed limit
- Improper or erratic lane change
- Moving violations related to a fatal crash
- Texting while operating a commercial motor vehicle
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle without a valid CDL
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle without a CDL in your possession
- Driving a commercial motor vehicle without the proper CDL class and/or endorsements
Reckless driving, speeding, tailgating, improper lane change, and fatal crash violations count as serious offenses even if you weren't operating a commercial motor vehicle at the time of the incident.
If you are convicted of two serious violations in a three-year period, you will receive a 60-day disqualification of your CDL. If you are convicted of three or more serious violations in the same timeframe, you will receive a 120-day disqualification.
Suspension of Your Regular Driver's License
Any offense that results in the suspension of your regular driver's license, including reckless driving, will also leave you unable to legally operate a commercial motor vehicle. Although drivers are sometimes granted a restricted license to drive for work-related purposes, a restricted license does not apply to operating a commercial motor vehicle.
As you might imagine, insurance premiums for commercial motor vehicles can be quite expensive. Because of this, it's common for companies to have strict policies about who is allowed to drive the trucks in their fleet. This means a reckless driving conviction may result in your termination even if you were operating your personal vehicle at the time and don't have previous disqualifying offenses.
Retaining Legal Representation
If you've been charged with reckless driving, you'll want to retain legal representation as soon as possible. When you depend on your CDL to support yourself, a reckless driving charge must be taken seriously. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
How much discretion does a police officer have when making a reckless driving arrest?
Virginia law gives officers a significant amount of discretion when making a reckless driving arrest. However, judges also have discretion to reduce or drop the charge in many cases.
Virginia's reckless driving law specifically includes the following actions:
- Speeding 20 miles or more above the speed limit or in excess of 80 miles per hour
- Driving too fast for adverse weather conditions
- Driving with an obstructed view
- Drag racing
- Failing to signal
- Passing at a railroad crossing
- Passing an emergency vehicle
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Passing two vehicles abreast
- Passing at the top of a hill
- Driving a vehicle with faulty brakes
Beyond these behaviors, officers can charge a driver with reckless driving whenever he is operating a vehicle in a manner that endangers life, limb, or property. This means an officer can charge you with reckless driving for swerving, weaving, tailgating, or any other behavior perceived as either aggressive or unsafe.
Since officers have a great deal of discretion in issuing a reckless driving citation, it's important to be polite and respectful whenever you're pulled over. If you're perceived as rude or uncooperative, the officer will be much less likely to help you out.
While the officer making the arrest has the discretion to determine when a charge is appropriate, the judge is given authority to reduce or drop the charge. Judges can consider the following mitigating factors:
- A past safe driving record
- If your conduct was related to a legitimate medical emergency
- Whether you've demonstrated remorse by agreeing to complete community service and/or attend a driver improvement clinic
- Speedometer calibration issues
- Recommendations from the officer
Judicial discretion plays such a significant role in reckless driving cases that attorneys typically advise drivers to appeal any initial conviction they receive. An appeal grants a new trial with a different judge, thus increasing your odds of finding someone who will be more lenient in assessing penalties.
How a Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help
An experienced reckless driving attorney will help you build the strongest possible defense to have the charge reduced to a lesser offense such as improper driving or dropped altogether. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review with Virginia defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson.