Getting a reckless driving ticket in Virginia isn't like facing a typical traffic charge: reckless driving is a criminal charge, which means it involves the potential of expensive fines, jail time, suspension of driver's license, and can remain on your driver's record for 11 years. Because reckless driving is far more serious than simple speeding, it can also be significantly more difficult to get your charge reduced or dismissed. Below I'll tell you about some possible defense strategies for reckless driving, and when it may be time to look into Prince William County reckless driving attorneys. If you find yourself facing a reckless driving charge, Kassabian & Kasabian, P.L.C. may be able to help. Don't hesitate to contact John Kassabian for a free consultation on your case.
The Officer's Radar Must be Accurate
In a reckless driving case, the Commonwealth must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the crime you were charged with. When it comes to reckless driving speed, Virginia laws are very specific, and the Commonwealth must prove that you were traveling more than 20 mph above the posted speed limit, or 85 mph or faster on a highway regardless of the applicable posted speed limit.
One defense that is sometimes effective in these types of cases concerns police radar. Not only does the Commonwealth have to prove that the officer's radar was calibrated and accurate, but they must have proof that it was calibrated within the past six months. The proof must be in the form of a certificate of calibration, which must be correctly filled out and qualified as true and accurate. There are additional Virginia statutory defenses depending on if the certificate of calibration is an original or a copy. If the certificate is missing required information it may not qualify as proof before the court. Because there are many technical subtleties in recognizing issues with a certificate, Prince William County reckless driving attorneys are usually the best people to review them.
Your Speedometer Must be Accurate
Knowing how to beat a reckless driving charge in Virginia sometimes involves calibrating your own speedometer. While this is not always the case, if your speedometer has not been recently calibrated and isn't reading accurately, it can sometimes serve as evidence that may result in a favorable outcome. If you did not know how fast you were actually driving because your speedometer wasn't working properly, the court may reduce or dismiss the charge. However, this defense may likely work if your speedometer's reading was somewhat low compared to your actual travel speed in addition to a sworn report of the results of the calibration test of your speedometer being properly presented and received by the court.
Using Your GPS Reading as Evidence
On a related note, you can sometimes argue that your GPS speed was below the officer's radar, but this one is much trickier. You must have a record of the GPS speed at the time the officer said you were speeding, as well as proof that your GPS speed is accurate. If you ever get pulled over going far above the speed limit, try to remember to take a picture of the GPS summary. It will show your maximum speed during the most recent trip, and if this is below the speed the officer clocked you at, it could potentially be valuable evidence in court. You will also need a photo of the speedometer showing that the GPS and your speedometer are in agreement about your speed.
All of these situations can be very tricky to prove and present to the court, but Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. has been helping Northern Virginians get justice in reckless driving cases for years, and we may be able to help your case.
Reckless Driving Unrelated to Speed
In some cases, an officer may charge you with reckless driving under Virginia Code 46.2-852 or 46.2-853. This charge is usually brought after an accident, or if an officer witnessed you driving in a way that was generally reckless.
However, in order to be convicted of this offense, the Virginia code states that you must have been driving on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in such a way that you were endangering “life, limb, or property of any person.” And the Commonwealth has to prove it with facts and evidence. As you can imagine, unless you ran into a street sign or otherwise damaged property, this can be difficult to prove, even so, an accident in of itself does not equate to reckless driving. Often, without the driver's admission, a witness or street camera depicting your driving behavior, the Commonwealth may not have sufficient proof in a court of law to prove the charge, even if an accident occurred.
Unfortunately, what often happens is that a driver gives the officer too much verbal information after they are pulled over, unknowingly incriminating themselves. If you find yourself in this situation, remember to stay quiet and not offer any information, even if it seems harmless. Another thing worth noting is that even if the accident report claims you were at fault, the report itself will likely not be admitted in court: only the officer's testimony matters and all witnesses who testify are subject to cross examination regarding their testimony to the court.
When to Work with a Reckless Driving Attorney
Researching local reckless driving attorneys in Prince William County may be worth it in some cases. If you were traveling only slightly above the speed threshold for reckless driving, a lawyer could potentially get the charge reduced to simple speeding, which does not carry the same heavy fines, penalties, and marks on your permanent criminal record as a Class 1 misdemeanor. Possibly the charge can even be dismissed. In other cases, a lawyer may see that the Commonwealth will have a difficult time proving that you were recklessly speeding or otherwise driving recklessly, and can use this as a defense.
As former Prince William County prosecutor, John Kassabian has years of experience with reckless driving cases and a strong understanding of successful ways to present your case and fight the charge.
Kassabian & Kassabian, P.L.C. offers free consultations, so don't hesitate to contact us for information on your rights and whether or not you have a case.
Call John Kassabian today at 703-750-3622.