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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What are tuning forks and how are they relevant to my reckless driving defense?
Tuning forks are two-pronged metal forks that are most commonly used as a pitch standard to tune musical instruments. However, they also play a key role in ensuring the accuracy of a police officer's radar readings.
How Are Tuning Forks Used by Law Enforcement?
Tuning forks are used to calibrate the radar guns officers use to track speeding vehicles. The officer is supposed to calibrate the radar device at the start and end of each shift to make sure it is producing accurate readings. The tuning fork itself is supposed to be calibrated every six months to make sure it is producing a frequency equivalent to that of a vehicle moving at the targeted speed.
How Does This Affect Your Reckless Driving Defense?
The most common scenario in which tuning forks become a crucial piece of evidence is when you've been charged with reckless driving by speed for going more than 20 miles per hour over the legal speed limit or over 80 miles per hour regardless of the posted speed limit. Virginia law says a tuning fork calibration is only valid for six months. If the calibration occurred more than six months before the date of your stop, the attorney can use this evidence to support your defense.
For the calibration to be valid, the tuning fork serial number must be listed on the calibration certificate. Ideally, the serial number should also be listed on your reckless driving ticket. Different types of radar devices can use different frequencies, so it's vital that an officer be able to establish which tuning fork was used to verify the accuracy of the radar.
If the officer can't provide sufficient evidence that the tuning fork calibration is accurate, this casts doubt on the accuracy of the radar reading. If you were ticketed as being only slightly over the limit for a reckless driving by speed charge, this doubt is often enough to get your charge reduced or dropped. To learn more, call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
Is texting and driving a type of reckless driving?
Under Virginia law, texting and driving and reckless driving are two distinct offenses. You can't automatically be charged with reckless driving if you were texting and driving. However, you can be charged with both offenses if you are texting and creating a hazardous situation that qualifies as reckless driving.
Virginia's Texting and Driving Law
It is illegal to use a smartphone or handheld personal communications device to either compose or read emails or text messages while driving. However, there are exceptions for people who are operating emergency vehicles, reporting emergencies, using GPS, or reading caller ID.
Reckless driving is a traffic infraction, but is a primary offense. This means you can be pulled over and ticketed even if you haven't broken any other laws. The first offense is punished with a $125 fine, while the second or subsequent offense is punished with a $250 fine. You will also receive three demerit points on your DMV record.
Virginia's Reckless Driving Law
Reckless driving encompasses a wide range of unsafe behaviors that could be performed while texting. This includes actions such as speeding, driving too fast for weather conditions, failing to give proper signals, and failing to maintain control.
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor criminal offense. It is punished with a fine of up to $2,500, potential jail time of up to one year, a driver's license suspension of 10 days to six months, and six demerit points added to your driving record.
How T. Kevin Wilson Can Help
If you've been charged with reckless driving after texting, it's in your best interests to seek legal representation. Virginia has some of the harshest reckless driving laws in the nation. A conviction will give you the stigma of a criminal record, making it harder to pass a pre-employment background check, apply to graduate school, enlist in the military, or maintain an active security clearance.
Attorney T. Kevin Wilson is dedicated to helping Virginia drivers build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
The officer did not use radar to document my speed, but instead used something called lidar. What is it?
If you frequently watch cop shows on TV, you're probably familiar with the practice of using radar guns to track speed. However, if you've been charged with reckless driving by speed under Virginia law, your speed may have been checked with lidar.
Understanding the Difference Between Radar and Lidar
RADAR stands for RAdio Detection And Ranging. It's been used by law enforcement since the 1950s and uses radio waves to determine the speed of vehicles that are in the beam. The calculation involves both radio transmit frequency and the returning signal frequency.
LIDAR is a newer technology. This acronym stands for LIght Detection And Ranging. Lidar uses lasers to detect the speed of vehicles that are in the path of the beam. The advantage of lidar is that it allows officers to more accurately hone in on one specific vehicle.
Although lidar is thought to be slightly more accurate when determining the speed of vehicles that are traveling in heavy traffic, both radar and lidar usage are acceptable for the purpose of issuing a reckless driving ticket.
Reckless Driving by Speed
You can be charged with reckless driving if your speed was measured at 20 miles or more over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit.
Penalties for reckless driving by speed include:
- Jail time of up to one year
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- Driver's license suspension of 10 days to six months
- Six demerit points added to your driving record for 11 years
Defending Against the Charge
It does not matter whether the officer used radar or lidar to measure your speed. However, the officer does need to be able to prove the device was functioning correctly. This involves producing a calibration certificate issued within the last six months.
Working with an experienced attorney is the best course of action after receiving a reckless driving ticket. T. Kevin Wilson is dedicated to helping Virginia drivers build an aggressive defense against reckless driving charges. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
I'm an international student studying in the U.S. What will happen to me if I'm convicted of reckless driving?
As an international student, it's important to be very aware of the consequences of a reckless driving conviction. Although a reckless driving charge is a serious matter for any young person, it can present special immigration concerns for international students.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
In Virginia, reckless driving is considered a Class 1 misdemeanor criminal offense. Penalties include:
- Maximum fine of up to $2,500
- Potential jail time of up to 12 months
- Driver's license suspension of 10 days to six months.
- Six demerit points added to your driving record
Implications for International Students
If you are studying in the U.S. on an F-1 or M-1 student visa, you must maintain compliance with the conditions under which your visa was issued in order to legally remain in the country. Other potential issues of concern include:
- You may not be allowed to leave the country until your case is resolved, which could complicate travel plans to visit friends and family.
- Your arrest will be entered into NCIC (National Crime Information Center) database. This might cause delays in your ability to reenter the country if you return home for a visit, leaving you to potentially miss important class time.
- If your reckless driving charge involves other offenses that result in you being expelled from school, you're automatically in violation of your visa.
- You will be required to acknowledge your arrest record when you apply for renewal of your visa or a green card.
- If you are nearing graduation and wish to work in the U.S., your arrest may make it more difficult to pass a pre-employment background check.
Contact T. Kevin Wilson Today
Even though your budget may be tight as an international student, it would be a mistake to forgo legal representation. Virginia's reckless driving laws can be quite complex and it's difficult to adequately defend yourself when English is your second language.
An experienced reckless driving attorney can help you build an aggressive defense to reduce or drop the charge. Call Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson today to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
Can I be arrested for reckless driving in Virginia if my driver's license is from another state?
When you're traveling in Virginia for business or pleasure, it's important to keep in mind that the state's laws apply to all motorists regardless of where their license was issued. This means that you can be arrested for reckless driving in Virginia even if your license is from another state.
How Virginia Defines Reckless Driving
Virginia law considers a wide range of actions to be reckless driving. For example:
- Driving 20 miles or more over the speed limit or over 80 miles per hour regardless of the speed limit
- Driving too fast for weather conditions
- Failure to maintain control
- Driving with an obstructed view
- Passing two vehicles abreast
- Passing a stopped school bus
- Passing at the crest of a grade or on a curve
- Failing to yield right of way
- Failing to give proper signals
- Drag racing
In addition, there is a general rule that allows an officer to arrest you for reckless driving if he believes you are operating your vehicle in a way that endangers the property or safety of others. You do not have to actually cause an accident to be charged with reckless driving.
About the Interstate Driver License Compact
The Interstate Driver License Compact is an agreement between states that allows offenses committed out of state to be treated as though they were committed in your home state. This means that a reckless driving charge in Virginia will result in whatever penalties your state would apply if you had committed the offense at home.
The Interstate Driver License Compact applies to all states in the U.S. except Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, Tennessee, and Wisconsin.
How a Lawyer Can Help
An experienced reckless driving lawyer can help you build an aggressive defense against the charge. In many cases, your lawyer can appear in court on your behalf so you don't need to travel back to Virginia to take care of the matter. To learn more, call Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson to schedule a free, no-obligation case review.
If my license is suspended for reckless driving in Virginia, can I still drive in other states?
If you're a frequent traveler, keep in mind that a Virginia reckless driving conviction will affect your ability to drive across the United States. When your original driver's license was issued by Virginia, your ability to drive in other states is a privilege based upon other states honoring the Virginia license. If your Virginia license has been suspended, there is nothing for other states to honor.
Although it was once difficult for law enforcement to track out-of-state license suspensions, the Driver License Compact makes this task much easier. This is an interstate compact committed to sharing information about the license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents and forwarding them to the state where they are licensed. The theme for the compact is "One Driver, One License, One Record."
The Driver License Compact means that Virginia will eventually find out about any out-of-state tickets you receive. Once notification has been received, Virginia treats the offense as if it had been committed at home.
If you're picked up in another state while your Virginia license has been suspended, you can be charged with driving on a suspended license under Virginia law. This is a Class 1 misdemeanor with penalties that include up to one year in jail, $2,500 in fines, and an additional driver’s license suspension to be served after the one you received for your reckless driving charge.
Applying for a License in a New State
The National Driver Register (NDR) maintains a computerized database known as the Problem Driver Pointer System (PDPS) about drivers with revoked, suspended, canceled, or denied licenses. Records include the name, date of birth, gender, driver's license number, and reporting state where the infraction occurred. If your license is suspended in Virginia, you will appear on this database and your application will be denied if you try to apply for a license in another state.
How an Attorney Can Help
Hiring an experienced attorney is the best way to minimize the consequences of any reckless driving charge. Your attorney can explain how your past driving record will affect your case and work with you to build an aggressive defense to reduce or drop the charge. To learn more, call to schedule a free, no-obligation initial consultation with Virginia reckless driving attorney T. Kevin Wilson.
What does the prosecutor have to prove in order for me to be convicted of reckless driving in Virginia?
If you've been charged with reckless driving, don't panic. A conviction is not guaranteed, especially if you have an experienced attorney on your side.
The Prosecutor's Burden of Proof
The prosecutor must provide specific forms of proof to get a conviction, depending upon what part of the reckless driving statute you've been charged under. For example, if you were charged with reckless driving by speed, the prosecutor must submit evidence of your speed and proof that the device used to measure your speed was working correctly. If you were charged under the general statute saying you were driving in a way that endangers the life, limb, or property of others, the prosecutor may introduce the testimony of the arresting officer or other witnesses on the road in addition to any applicable dash cam or surveillance video footage. Testimony regarding your demeanor at the time of the traffic stop or statements you made to the arresting officer can also be introduced as evidence if the prosecution feels it is relevant.
Regardless of what section of the reckless driving statute you were charged under, the prosecutor must provide proof that you are guilty beyond a reasonable doubt. In cases where evidence is open to interpretation, the charge is typically reduced or dropped because the prosecutor can't meet the required burden of proof.
How an Attorney Can Help
An experienced attorney can help you present evidence to counter the prosecutor's argument. This may include a speedometer calibration to disprove or argue your alleged speed, evidence of improper signage in the area where the offense occurred, or evidence that your actions were the result of a medical emergency or some other necessity.
Since reckless driving is a criminal offense that carries stiff fines and the possibility of jail time, it's in your best interest to investigate every possible way of building an aggressive defense. Virginia attorney T. Kevin Wilson is committed to helping drivers protect themselves following a reckless driving charge. Call today to schedule a free, no-obligation initial case review.
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.
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.
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.
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.