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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Why was I charged with reckless driving for passing someone at a railroad crossing?
Passing someone at a railroad crossing can result in a reckless driving charge, even if your actions don't cause an accident.
Railroad Crossing Laws Regarding Reckless Driving
Railroad crossing accidents have been declining since 1980, but a driver is almost 20 times more likely to be killed in a crash involving a train than in an accident involving another car. For this reason, Virginia takes traffic violations involving railroad crossings very seriously.
Virginia law states, "A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who overtakes or passes any other vehicle proceeding in the same direction at any railroad grade crossing or at any intersection of highways unless such vehicles are being operated on a highway having two or more designated lanes of roadway for each direction of travel or unless such intersection is designated and marked as a passing zone or on a designated one-way street or highway, or while pedestrians are passing or about to pass in front of either of such vehicles, unless permitted so to do by a traffic light or law-enforcement officer."
Penalties for Reckless Driving
A first time offender convicted of reckless driving will have his license suspended for a minimum of 60 days and a maximum of six months. You can apply for a restricted license, which will grant limited driving privileges during certain hours. However, someone with a commercial driver's license can’t obtain a restricted license if his license was suspended for passing at a railroad crossing.
In addition to the license suspension, you'll face hefty fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record that can affect your future job opportunities, green card application, and more.
Retaining Legal Representation
If you've been charged with reckless driving, it's a mistake to simply pay your ticket and accept the consequences. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping drivers who've been charged with reckless driving build the strongest possible defense. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
Can my reckless driving charge be reduced to improper driving?
Improper driving is a somewhat unique charge under Virginia law. You can't be charged with improper driving by a law enforcement officer, but the judge and prosecutor both have the authority to reduce reckless driving to improper driving when they find your degree of culpability is slight.
Benefits of Reducing a Reckless Driving Charge to Improper Driving
Having your reckless driving charge reduced to improper driving can be a significant benefit. Improper driving is considered a low-level traffic ticket worth three demerit points on your driving record for three years. In comparison, reckless driving is typically a Class 1 misdemeanor worth six demerit points that stay on your driving record for 11 years.
Likelihood of an Improper Driving Charge
An improper driving charge is most likely when your actions were caused by carelessness or inattentiveness at a crucial moment. For example, if you rear ended another vehicle but were not speeding or disobeying any other traffic laws, you'd have a good shot at getting a reckless driving charge reduced to improper driving.
If you were charged with reckless driving by speed, it's more likely that your charge would be reduced to a speeding ticket. Although a speeding ticket is worth four demerit points and stays on your record for five years, having your offense reduced to a speeding ticket will likely benefit you in the long run.
The Benefits of Hiring a Reckless Driving Attorney
Being convicted of reckless driving can result in hefty fines, jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. Hiring an experienced reckless driving attorney to investigate every avenue of defense will give you an opportunity to have the charge reduced to a lesser offense or dropped altogether. If you simply pay the ticket and accept the consequences, you'll be faced with higher insurance rates and reduced employment opportunities for several years to come.
T. Kevin Wilson is dedicated helping Virginia drivers deal with their reckless driving tickets in a way that minimizes the associated penalties. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
Can a reckless driving conviction prevent me from driving with Uber or other rideshare services?
Uber and other rideshare services are growing in popularity as a way for people to earn extra cash or find flexible employment, but these companies have strict background check procedures for hiring contractors. If you are convicted of reckless driving, this will likely prevent you from becoming a rideshare driver.
What Background Checks Look For
Background checks vary slightly according to the company you wish to drive for. Uber, the most popular rideshare service, looks for the following:
- A minimum of one year licensing history in the United States, or three years of driving history if you're under 23
- A clean Motor Vehicle Record (MVR) with no major moving violations, such as a DUI or reckless driving, and no more than three minor moving violations, such as a speeding ticket, in the past three years
- A clean criminal record with no convictions for prior offenses specified by local law
Uber does not charge for a background check or request a copy of your credit report to determine if you'll be accepted as a driver.
Background checks typically take less than seven days to complete. Often, drivers who are initially denied maintain the option to reapply at a later date.
How a Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help
Don't simply pay your reckless driving ticket and hope for the best. A reckless driving attorney can investigate avenues of defense to have your charge dropped or reduced to a lesser offense such as speeding. If successful, this would allow you to still earn money as a qualified Uber or rideshare service contractor.
If you've already been convicted of reckless driving, an attorney can help you appeal the conviction. This will result in a new trial with a different judge, but you must file an appeal within 10 calendar days of your conviction date.
T. Kevin Wilson is committed to investigating every possible avenue of defense for Virginia drivers charged with reckless driving. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
Will a reckless driving conviction affect my ability to get a green card?
A green card is the document that gives an immigrant authorization to live and work in the United States on a permanent basis. Green cards can be granted based on family or employment connections or as part of refugee/asylum status. However, having a Virginia reckless driving charge on your record could make the process much more difficult.
Criminal Offenses and Immigration Law
When you apply for a green card, you'll be asked if you've been "arrested, charged, indicted, convicted, fined, or imprisoned for breaking or violating any law or ordinance, excluding traffic violations." Since a reckless driving charge is considered to be a criminal charge and not a simple traffic violation, it must be reported.
Obviously, not all criminal offenses are of equal severity. If you've been charged with an offense such as money laundering, drug trafficking, or kidnapping, your application will be denied. Lesser offenses such as reckless driving will depend upon the exact circumstances surrounding the charge. For example:
- How long ago you were charged
- Whether you were charged with misdemeanor or felony reckless driving
- If you were under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time
- If anyone was hurt
- If you have other criminal offenses from unrelated incidents on your record
You'll need to speak with an immigration lawyer to learn more about how a reckless driving charge will affect your case.
How a Reckless Driving Attorney Can Help
If you've been charged with reckless driving, don't simply pay the ticket and hope for the best. An experienced attorney may be able to get the charge reduced to a lesser offense such as speeding or have it dropped altogether. This will mean you don't have to report it on your immigration application.
Virginia defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to investigating every possible avenue of defense for his clients, including those who are worried about the impact of a reckless driving charge on a pending green card application. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Will a DUI conviction cost me custody of my kids?
Although the court can't take away custody of your child due to a DUI conviction alone, the charge could present a problem if you're currently in the middle of a divorce or a custody battle with a former partner.
Impact of a DUI Conviction on Child Custody
In a child custody case, keep in mind that there are two types of custody that must be decided: legal custody (the ability to make decisions about a child's upbringing such education and religious affiliation) and physical custody (how much time a child will physically spend with each parent).
A DUI conviction is unlikely to affect legal custody, but may affect physical custody if there is other evidence raising concerns regarding your moral character or fitness as a parent. This might include:
- Additional evidence suggesting you have a substance abuse problem
- Evidence your alcohol use has already placed the child in danger, such having your child in the car when you're under the influence
- Signs of child neglect, such as a child arriving for school hungry and in dirty clothes
- Signs of child abuse, such as unexplained bruises
- Previous criminal convictions of any type
- Evidence of an aggressive or temperamental personality
- Minimal past involvement in your child's daily care
When judges award physical custody, they are trying to decide which parent is best equipped to provide a stable and safe home environment. This includes tasks such as transporting children to school and activities, helping with homework, preparing meals, providing appropriate discipline, and serving as a positive adult role model. Older children may be allowed to express a preference as to which parent they want to live with, but a judge always has the authority to rule against the child's wishes if there are safety issues involved.
The Wilson Law Firm Can Help
Having access to skilled legal representation can help you minimize the negative consequences associated with a DUI, including any effect on pending child custody hearings. Virginia defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson is dedicated to investigating every possible avenue of defense for his clients. Call today for a free, no-obligation case review.
If I am convicted of a DUI in Virginia, will I be required to go to rehab?
If you are charged with driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, the court might question if this suggests you have a substance abuse problem. The judge could order you to attend a court-approved rehab facility or you may voluntarily offer to attend rehab to reduce the penalties associated with the DUI charge.
The Role of Rehab in a DUI Case
Virginia law gives judges discretion to use court-ordered rehab instead of jail time for nonviolent offenders. This helps keep the prison population down and can provide offenders with the support they need to avoid future legal troubles. Rehab can also be ordered as part of a sentence that includes some jail time, depending upon the circumstances associated with the charge. There are court-ordered treatment facilities throughout the state, offering both inpatient and outpatient rehab programs for drug and alcohol abuse.
Even if the court does not require you to complete a drug or alcohol rehab program, voluntarily seeking treatment can be a way to avoid jail time or earn a more lenient sentence. By admitting you have a substance abuse problem, you're telling the judge that you understand your conduct was inappropriate and that you're committed to making sure the same thing doesn't happen again.
Voluntarily seeking rehab is most effective for first time offenders, but still an option even if this is a second or subsequent offense. However, you should speak to your attorney before committing to a program to ensure that the facility's treatment plan is one that is likely to be supported by the court.
T. Kevin Wilson Can Help
The penalties for a DUI conviction can be quite serious, which is why it's vital that you have access to skilled legal representation throughout the process. Virginia defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson has advanced training in standardized field sobriety testing, breath alcohol testing, and blood alcohol testing, which allows him to investigate every possible avenue of defense for his clients. Call today for a free, no-obligation case review.
Can I appeal a reckless driving conviction?
If the judge returns a guilty verdict in your reckless driving case, don't panic. Virginia law allows you to appeal the outcome of your reckless driving case and be granted a new trial with a different judge. In many cases, an appeal results in an acquittal or reduced charges.
How Does an Appeal Work?
You have 10 calendar days to initiate the appeal process. You can do this by informing the General District Court clerk that you want to appeal your conviction. At this time, you'll be asked to complete and sign a Notice of Appeal form.
Your second reckless driving trial will proceed in the same basic manner as the first trial. The only key difference is that you're allowed to request a jury trial on appeal. However, the benefits of this option should be considered carefully since you'll need to pay the court costs for a jury trial if you're convicted.
Is an Appeal Worth My Time?
Appealing your reckless driving conviction costs time and money, so this is a decision that shouldn't be made lightly. The biggest reason to appeal your conviction is that judges have a fair amount of discretion in trying reckless driving cases. If you had a judge who is notoriously strict or your case involved mitigating factors such as a medical emergency, appealing might very well result in an acquittal.
You should also appeal your conviction if you didn't hire a lawyer or if you're not confident your previous lawyer represented you to the best of his ability. Having access to skilled legal representation is vital in beating a reckless driving charge.
Virginia defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping drivers handle both misdemeanor and felony reckless driving charges. He works with each client to develop a defense most appropriate to the circumstances. He may recommend options such as speedometer calibration, completion of a driver improvement clinic, or using community service to have the charge dropped. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Why did I get a reckless driving ticket for a single vehicle accident?
If you're involved in a single vehicle accident, you might end up with a reckless driving ticket even if you didn't cause injuries or property damage to anyone else.
Virginia law requires police officers to write a ticket whenever there is an accident that involves some sort of injury or damage, even if it's minor and only affects the driver of the vehicle. Drivers often end up with a reckless driving ticket simply because there aren't many possibilities for a citation that fits this particular situation.
Getting Your Reckless Driving Charge Reduced or Dropped
In a single vehicle accident, receiving a ticket for reckless driving is interpreted to mean that you failed to maintain control of your vehicle. Since you were involved in an accident, it's true that you did lose control of your vehicle at some point. However, it's not a good idea to simply plead guilty and pay the ticket.
The judge has great discretion in reckless driving cases involving a single vehicle accident that caused no injuries or property damage to anyone but the driver. The law recognizes that the mere fact you were in an accident doesn't mean you are guilty of a crime. The defense must actually prove that you engaged in reckless behavior, such as speeding or falling asleep at the wheel.
If you can show that weather, medical emergency, or some other extenuating circumstance played a factor, you may be able to have the charge reduced to improper driving or dropped altogether. Showing a past record of safe driving may also act as a point in your favor.
T. Kevin Wilson Can Help Protect Your Rights
Reckless driving is considered a criminal charge under Virginia law, not a simple traffic violation. A conviction leaves you with fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. After a single vehicle accident, there's no reason to accept these consequences without a fight.
Attorney T. Kevin Wilson has extensive experience helping Virginia drivers handle their reckless driving cases. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
What is the difference between aggressive driving and reckless driving?
Engaging in unsafe behaviors such as speeding or improper passing can earn you a ticket for either reckless driving or aggressive driving, depending upon the intent behind your actions.
Defining Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving encompasses a wide range of behaviors that are intended to “harass, intimidate, injure, or obstruct” other drivers. For example:
- Illegally passing
- Failing to stop or yield right-of-way when appropriate
- Driving outside the designated lanes
- Making unsafe lane changes
- Cutting off other drivers
- Driving on the wrong side of the road
- Ignoring traffic signals or signs
- Stopping on a highway
Essentially, aggressive driving encompasses what we colloquially refer to as road rage. The behaviors that will earn you an aggressive driving ticket are similar to those that qualify as reckless driving, but aggressive driving requires the intent of threatening behavior towards other motorists.
Penalties for Aggressive Driving
Aggressive driving with the intent to injure another person is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor. A Class 1 misdemeanor carries the penalty of jail time for not more than 12 months and/or a fine of not more than $2,500.
If no one is injured, the offense is a Class 2 misdemeanor. A Class 2 misdemeanor carries the penalty of jail time for not more than six months and/or a fine of not more than $1,000.
In addition to fines and jail time, offenders may also be required to complete an aggressive driving program.
Preparing a Defense
Since aggressive driving requires a specific motivation on the part of the driver, defense attorneys often argue that the driver's conduct was due to inattentiveness or impatience instead of maliciously attempting to injure, obstruct, harass, or intimidate other motorists. If this defense is successful, the charge may be reduced to a lesser traffic violation or dropped all together.
Having legal representation is essential if you've been charged with aggressive driving, since a conviction can result in stiff penalties as well as the stigma of a criminal record. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson has extensive experience in helping drivers beat both aggressive driving and reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation.
When does illegal passing result in a reckless driving charge?
When you're running late or in a hurry to arrive at your destination, getting behind a slow-moving driver is immensely frustrating. However, making the decision to pass illegally could result in a reckless driving charge.
Illegal Passing as a Form of Reckless Driving
Illegal passing can be classified as reckless driving if your conduct indicates a blatant disregard for the safety of others. Illegal passing is considered reckless driving in the following circumstances:
- You passed at a railroad crossing.
- You passed at a highway intersection.
- You passed on the crest of a hill or slope.
- You passed as you were approaching a curve in the road.
- The vehicle you passed was a stopped school bus.
- The vehicle you passed was an emergency vehicle.
- There were pedestrians present.
- You attempted to pass two or more vehicles at the same time.
All of these scenarios are particularly dangerous because they increase your odds of being involved in an accident that injures yourself and/or others.
Defending Against a Reckless Driving Charge
You may be able to have your charge reduced if you have a previous clean driving record and can provide character references. Attending a driver improvement clinic or completing community service can also be a way to demonstrate remorse for your actions.
Improperly marked roadways, poor weather conditions, or a medical emergency may be used as mitigating factors.
Protecting Your Rights by Hiring a Reckless Driving Attorney
A reckless driving charge carries stiff penalties, including fines and the possibility of jail time. The charge gives you six demerit points on your driving record and remains visible for 11 years, resulting in substantially higher auto insurance rates. Drivers are also left with the stigma of a criminal record, creating difficulty in securing future employment opportunities.
To protect yourself, you'll want to work with a skilled attorney to build the strongest possible defense. T. Kevin Wilson has extensive experience working with Virginia drivers to reduce or drop reckless driving charges. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Can my DUI be dismissed if the officer didn’t read me my Miranda rights?
When someone is arrested on TV, the cop automatically starts to "read the person his rights." On TV, this usually means telling the arrested person that he has the right to remain silent, that anything he says can be used against him in a court of law, that he has the right to have an attorney present during questioning, etc. However, not receiving your Miranda rights won’t necessarily get your DUI charge thrown out.
Miranda Rights in a DUI Case
Police officers are not required to give Miranda warnings immediately upon arresting someone, nor do Miranda rights apply to the preliminary questioning of a subject before he is arrested. In a DUI case, this means that your answers to the initial questions an officer asks while determining if you are intoxicated can be admitted as evidence with no Miranda warning. Two examples of questions that are most often relevant in a DUI case are "Have you been drinking?" and "How much have you had to drink tonight?"
However, a formal investigation requires a Miranda warning before evidence can be used in court. If you were interrogated by the police after being taken into custody and you were not given a Miranda warning, your statements can not be used against you.
After you are read your Miranda rights, you must affirmatively state that you understand these rights before the interrogation can proceed. If you state that you wish to remain silent or want to speak to an attorney, all questioning must stop.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
Although the majority of incriminating statements in a Virginia DUI case come before the suspect is taken into custody, there are many situations where this issue still arises in the defense of drunk driving cases. If you believe your statements should be inadmissible due to a law enforcement officer's failure to read you your Miranda rights, this is an issue that should be discussed in greater detail with a qualified defense attorney.
Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson has extensive experience assisting those who've been charged with a DUI in building a solid defense. To learn more, please call to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
How will a reckless driving charge affect my military service?
A reckless driving conviction can have severe consequences for your future, especially if you're planning to enlist in the military.
Reckless Driving and Military Enlistment
How a reckless driving charge will affect your ability to serve our country depends on what branch of the military you wish to join. The following are some basic guidelines:
- Air Force. Reckless driving is a Category 4 moral offense in the Air Force. You'll be disqualified if you have two or more Category 4 offenses within the last three years, although a recruiting squadron commander may be able to get the disqualification waived. Other common Category 4 offenses include disorderly conduct and unlawful possession of alcohol or tobacco.
- Army. If you have two or more misdemeanor charges on your record, including reckless driving, you'll need a waiver to enlist. Four or more misdemeanor convictions will prevent you from enlistment.
- Navy or Marines. Reckless driving is considered a serious offense regardless of whether it's a misdemeanor or felony charge. Misdemeanor convictions can be waived at the district level, but a felony reckless driving conviction will require a waiver from the regional headquarters. This typically only happens when recruiting rates are lower than anticipated.
Reckless Driving and Military Service
If you're currently enlisted, you'll be required to report your reckless driving arrest to your commanding officer. Penalties are specific to your branch of service. However, one common issue of concern is maintaining an active security clearance.
Security clearances in the military have three levels: confidential, secret, and top secret. If you've been convicted of reckless driving, getting or renewing your security clearance may be problematic. A conviction isn't automatically disqualifying, but factors into evaluations of trustworthiness, reliability, loyalty, and honesty.
The Value of Legal Representation
If you're interested in enlisting or are currently serving in the military, access to skilled legal representation is vital in minimizing the negative effects of a reckless driving charge. T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping Virginia drivers handle both misdemeanor and felony reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
What happens if the charging officer doesn’t show up to court for a reckless driving offense?
If you've been charged with reckless driving, you may be wondering how your court appearance will be handled and what happens if the arresting officer doesn't show up. Although many people think having the officer fail to appear in court will get your ticket thrown out, this is seldom the case.
The Arresting Officer's Court Appearance
In Virginia, most courts give an officer one assigned day per month when all of his cases will be handled. This makes it much easier for the officer to avoid missing a court date, but sometimes absences are unavoidable. Officers may be sick, have a death in the family, or be busy tending to some sort of public safety emergency situation. When this happens, the court will generally continue your reckless driving case until the next month so the officer will be able to present the necessary evidence.
It Is Rare To Find You Case Dropped
The only way your case would be dismissed is if the officer doesn't show, doesn't call in with a valid excuse, and doesn't respond to the court's attempts to schedule a new appearance. However, this is very rare. Police officers recognize that court appearances are an important part of their job and that failure to appear in court can result in disciplinary action.
Building a Solid Defense
Reckless driving carries significant penalties, including stiff fines, the possibility of jail time, and the stigma of a criminal record. Since it's unlikely that your case will be dismissed due to the arresting officer's failure to appear in court, your best option is to work with a skilled attorney to build a solid defense.
There are a number of different strategies that can work to reduce or drop a reckless driving charge, such as having your speedometer calibrated, attending a driver improvement clinic, or voluntarily completing community service to demonstrate remorse for your actions. An experienced attorney can help you decide which strategy will work best for your particular circumstances.
We Represent You In Virginia Court
T. Kevin Wilson has extensive experience helping Virginia residents handle both misdemeanor and felony reckless driving charges. We also represent those who have been Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation or fill out our contact form on this page.
When is a medical emergency a viable reckless driving defense?
Reckless driving carries strict penalties in Virginia, but exceptions can be made if your actions were due to a serious or potentially life threatening medical emergency.
When This Defense Works
A medical emergency defense is most likely to be successful when the driver was suddenly overcome without warning by a medical condition that affected his ability to safely operate a motor vehicle. This might include having a heart attack, stroke, seizure, fainting, or blacking out. Although drivers have a legal obligation to follow the rules of the road, the court recognizes that a driver can't be held accountable if he had no warning of what was about to happen.
If you were driving a friend or family member to the hospital to seek medical attention, this may qualify as a medical emergency, depending upon the circumstances. The judge would likely look at factors such as what the friend or family member was suffering from, how fast you were going, your past driving record, and whether anyone was hurt by your actions.
When This Doesn't Work
A medical emergency defense is highly unlikely to be successful if there is evidence that you knew you were not in a suitable condition to drive. If you'd been told by a doctor to avoid driving due to a medical condition, you can't use this condition as an excuse for reckless driving.
Other examples of situations that wouldn't be considered a medical emergency include:
- Falling asleep at the wheel after being up for over 24 hours
- Needing to get to a restroom
- Being late for a doctor's appointment
- Needing to see a friend or family member at the hospital
Protecting Your Rights
If you've been charged with reckless driving and believe your case should be dismissed or reduced to due to a medical emergency, this issue should be discussed in greater detail with your attorney. An experienced defense attorney can help present the facts in a way that is most likely to be successful.
Attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping Virginia residents charged with reckless driving build the strongest possible defense. To learn more, please call to schedule a free case review.
If the court requires me to put an ignition interlock device on my vehicle, does the court system pay for it?
No, the court will not pay for your ignition interlock device. Since 2012, any Virginia driver convicted of Driving Under the Influence (DUI) is required to have an ignition interlock device installed on his or her vehicle before restricted driving privileges will be granted.
About Ignition Interlock Devices
An ignition interlock, sometimes called a breath alcohol ignition interlock, is a device that requires the driver to blow into a mouthpiece before starting the vehicle. If the device measures a blood alcohol concentration (BAC) over the legal limit, it prevents the vehicle's engine from starting.
Once the vehicle has been started, the ignition interlock requires periodic breath samples. If the sample shows an unacceptable BAC, an alarm sounds until the vehicle is shut off or a clean sample is provided.
Cost of Ignition Interlock Devices
If you're required to have an ignition interlock on your vehicle as a condition of getting a restricted license, you must pay for the device yourself. There are several different companies offering ignition interlock devices for Virginia drivers, which helps keep prices competitive. In most cases, you'll pay about $80 per month. Installation is typically free, but the monthly maintenance fee is necessary to make sure the device is working appropriately. If you fail to comply with the monthly maintenance of the device, you'll lose your restricted license.
Unfortunately, people who are unable to afford the cost of an ignition interlock have limited options. The device is required by law to obtain a restricted driver's license. If you can't afford the fee, you can simply opt not to request a restricted license and seek alternative transportation for work, medical appointments, and Alcohol Safety Action Program (ASAP) meetings.
Driving a borrowed vehicle is not a way around the ignition interlock requirement. Offenders are required to have an ignition interlock device on every vehicle they drive, even if it's not registered in their name.
Seeking Legal Representation
If you've been charged with a DUI, it's vital that you find a skilled attorney to advocate for your interests throughout the process. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with Virginia DUI defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
Is drag racing a form of reckless driving?
A need for speed can get you into big trouble with Virginia law enforcement officers, especially if you're caught drag racing. Virginia considers drag racing a form of reckless driving that’s punishable with hefty fines as well as jail time. Convicted offenders will also find themselves with a criminal record, creating problems when it's time to get a job or rent an apartment.
Drag Racing Defined
Drag racing is defined as a race between two or more vehicles on Virginia's public streets or highways, or in the driveway or premises of a public business, school, church, or recreational facility. The race must have defined start and end points.
Drag racing is generally considered a misdemeanor, with a six-month to two-year license suspension. Misdemeanor offenders also receive six demerit points on their driving record. This form of reckless driving can be a felony if someone is seriously hurt or killed as the result of your actions. As a Class 6 felony, drag racing is punishable by one to five years in prison.
Potential Drag Racing Defenses
The most obvious defense for a drag-racing related reckless driving charge is that you weren’t actually engaged in a race. Since drag racing is defined by a predetermined start and end point, two vehicles speeding alongside each other aren't automatically considered racing. Reckless driving cases centered around allegations of drag racing typically depend heavily on witness testimony, which can be subjective. If the witnesses don't agree you were racing, you may have a viable defense.
If you were on private property, you may have a defense if the property owner or someone who lawfully represents the property owner is willing to testify that you had permission to be operating your vehicle in the area.
To protect your rights, you'll want to enlist the services of a reckless driving attorney familiar with cases involving drag racing. Virginia defense attorney T. Kevin Wilson provides superior representation in both misdemeanor and felony reckless driving cases. Please call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Should I have my speedometer calibrated?
You may think a safe driver pays careful attention to the car's speedometer, but this device isn't always an accurate indication of how fast you're going. Having your speedometer calibrated can give you a more accurate indication of your speed while serving as valuable evidence in a reckless driving by speed case.
Speedometer Discrepancies Add Up Over Time
Typically, your car comes direct from the factory with a speedometer variance of one to three miles per hour. As you drive, this discrepancy slowly increases. Part of this is simply attributed to the general wear and tear on your vehicle, but problems with your tires or transmission can accelerate the process.
Getting Your Speedometer Calibrated
If you've been charged with reckless driving by speed, Virginia courts will allow you to use a speedometer calibration certificate as evidence in your case. However, the certificate must be from a shop within the state of Virginia. Calibrations from other states are often inadmissible because they don't meet the court's requirements for authentication.
The most accurate speedometer calibration is done using a dynamometer. This machine works by having your car placed with the wheels resting on the dynamometer's cylinders. As your car's wheels turn, the dynamometer shows how fast your car would be traveling if it was on the road. If there's a difference between the dynamometer reading and what your car's speedometer says, this evidence can be submitted to possibly reduce or drop your charge.
Handling Evidence That Hurts Your Case
If you're not 100% positive your speedometer is inaccurate, you might wonder if obtaining a calibration is risky. Although it's possible a calibration could hurt your case, you don't need to provide the certificate to the court unless the prosecution requests it. In most cases, a calibration certificate that shows you were actually driving faster than what the officer who ticketed you listed belongs to you alone.
Protecting Your Rights
Virginia treats reckless driving by speed as a serious offense, with stiff fines and the potential for jail time. To protect yourself, seek the assistance of an experienced defense attorney. Contact attorney T. Kevin Wilson to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
When can entrapment be used as a DUI defense?
If you've been charged with a DUI in Virginia, you may find yourself wondering if entrapment works as a viable defense. Although TV courtroom dramas often make it seem like arguing entrapment will get any criminal charge dropped, the reality is that entrapment is almost never a successful DUI defense.
Entrapment Seldom Works as a DUI Defense
Entrapment means that someone has been encouraged, enticed, or essentially tricked into committing a crime by a law enforcement officer. In terms of a DUI defense, entrapment is rarely successful.
To have a viable claim for entrapment, an officer has to have persuaded you to do something you otherwise wouldn't have done. The most common scenario in which an arrested driver unsuccessfully tries to claim entrapment occurs when an officer is patrolling outside a bar waiting to pick up people who get behind the wheel after having too much to drink. Since the officer is in a public area and not interacting with the bar's patrons beforehand, this conduct isn't entrapment. The patrons who drive drunk would have gotten behind the wheel regardless of whether the officer was present.
A more viable defense for a DUI would hinge on whether the officer had a valid reason to pull over the driver. Simply exiting an establishment where alcohol is served doesn't give the officer a reason to pull over a driver. However, speeding, swerving, or running a red light would all be valid reasons to pull over a driver. Even something as minor as a broken tail light could be considered a valid pretext for a DUI stop.
Challenging the validity of the stop is often successful as a DUI defense because evidence from an illegal stop is inadmissible. This means that there's typically no case if the stop wasn't legal.
Protecting Your Rights
If you've been charged with a DUI, possible penalties include fines, jail time, license suspension, and the stigma of having a criminal record. To protect yourself, it's vital that you hire an experienced defense attorney. Contact attorney T. Kevin Wilson to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation.
Can a police officer search my car after pulling me over in Virginia?
Although the Fourth Amendment prohibits unreasonable police searches of your vehicle following a traffic stop, it doesn't specifically state what type of search is unreasonable. However, vehicle searches conducted without a warrant can be broken down into four general categories:
- Probable cause. A law enforcement officer is allowed to search your vehicle if he has probable cause to believe there is incriminating evidence inside.
- Searches incident to arrest. If you're arrested following a traffic stop, an officer can conduct a search of your vehicle to look for weapons or evidence relating to the arrest. However, the weapons justification for a search is only valid if you're within reaching distance of the vehicle at the time of arrest. An officer can't search your car using a safety justification if you're already handcuffed in the back of a squad car.
- Consent to search. Barring other legal justification, an officer is allowed to search your car if you give him permission. However, your consent must be freely and voluntarily given. If you've been coerced into allowing the officer to search your car, the evidence obtained can't be used against you.
- Inventory search. After a DUI arrest, your vehicle may be impounded. When this happens, law enforcement officers can conduct a search to inventory the contents. The purpose of this type of search is to make sure any items in the car are accounted for and can be returned to the owner when the vehicle is released. However, officers can use any incriminating evidence they find as a result of this type of search.
Protecting Your Legal Rights
When you are stopped by a law enforcement officer, you must provide your name, driver's license, and vehicle registration card. You are not legally obligated to answer any other questions or to provide consent to search your vehicle. It's best to remain calm, assert your rights politely, and refrain from physically interfering with the officer's work. If appropriate, your attorney can later challenge the validity of the search.
To learn more, call to schedule a free, no-obligation consultation with T. Kevin Wilson at 703-361-6100 or fill out a contact form here and we will speak with your soon.
How Does a DUI Affect My Employment Opportunities?
Virginia law makes DUI charges and convictions a matter of public record. This can create significant problems for job seekers, since a drunk driving arrest will show up on a routine pre-employment background check.
How Employers Use Background Checks in the Hiring Process
It has been estimated that 90-95% of employers run background checks for either some or all of their available job openings. Background checks can be ordered from law enforcement agencies or third-party data brokers. Employers should not adopt a blanket policy of excluding all applicants with a criminal record. Instead, the Equal Employment Opportunity Commission (EEOC) recommends evaluations on a case-by-case basis.
The problem with a DUI conviction is that it can draw into question your ability to safely operate a motor vehicle for work-related purposes—creating a problem if you work in a field that requires regular business travel. If it's a second or third offense, a DUI may also cause your potential employer to believe you have a substance abuse problem.
Protecting Yourself From Discrimination
Virginia law prohibits employers from asking about criminal records that have been expunged. Unfortunately, while some states allow DUI charges to be expunged, Virginia only allows for expungement if you're later proven innocent or were wrongly accused of the crime.
The best way to protect yourself from the negative effect of a DUI charge on your future employment opportunities is to hire an experienced attorney. An attorney familiar with Virginia's DUI laws may be able to get the charges dismissed or reduced. While the arrest will still show up on a background check, this will be much less damaging than a conviction. Employers are more likely to give a qualified candidate the benefit of the doubt when an arrest can be explained as an isolated misunderstanding.
Avoid Problems With Getting A Job With A DUI On Your Record With Help From an Attorney
To learn more about building a strong DUI defense, contact the Wilson Law Firm. Attorney T. Kevin Wilson, an experienced Northern Virginia DUI defense lawyer, is committed to helping clients minimize the impact of a DUI arrest on their future.