Most people facing reckless driving charges, don’t understand the severity of theses offenses. They assume that they will get away with a simple fine, which they can mail and resume their normal lifestyle. On the contrary, reckless driving is a Class I misdemeanor offense in Virginia, which carries heavy penalties when convicted. Therefore, if you have been charged with reckless driving in Henrico County, contact our reckless driving attorneys immediately so that we can start working on a powerful defense strategy for your case. At Joyner Law PLLC, we believe you are innocent until proven guilty, and we will do everything possible to ensure you retain the status quo and protect your reputation.
What is Reckless Driving in Hanover County, Virginia?
Some people tend to confuse reckless driving with normal speeding tickets. However, although both result from traffic offenses, reckless driving is considered as a Class 1 misdemeanor offense, with heavy penalties. On the other hand, you can pre-pay a normal speeding ticket via mail and move on with your life. As for reckless driving, you will have to appear in court to answer the charges. Various driving behaviors are considered as reckless driving in Virginia. They include reckless driving by speed, reckless driving by accident, drag racing, weaving in and out of traffic, general reckless driving, and passing a stopped school bus. Others include overtaking at a crest, failing to give way to an emergency vehicle, driving an unsafe vehicle and driving a vehicle with obstructed view, among others.
Reckless Driving by Speed
You can be charged with reckless driving by speed for two main violations. First, if you are caught traveling at 20 mph over the posted speed limit and speeding at 80 mph regardless of the allowed speed limit. You can also be charged with reckless driving by speed even without exceeding those limits when the officers consider your speed as too fast for conditions. Therefore, driving fast in adverse weather can be considered as reckless driving by speed, even when you did not exceed the posted speed limits. As long as you are driving in a manner that endangers life, limb or property, then you can face reckless driving charges. When charged with reckless driving by speed, the prosecution has to prove beyond reasonable doubts that you were indeed driving too fast and broke the law. With competent Hanover County VA reckless driving lawyers, you can fight these charges and obtain a favorable outcome. Our lawyers may also assist you to negotiate a deal thus avoiding a criminal prosecution. Contact our reckless driving attorneys today to learn your options when facing reckless driving by speed charges.
Reckless Driving by Faulty Vehicle
When most people hear about reckless driving, they only consider actions like unsafe passing and excessive speed. However, in Virginia, you can be charged with reckless driving for driving a faulty or unsafe vehicle. This charge usually occurs when your actions are considered a risk to the safety of other road users. Whether or not you were driving a faulty or unsafe vehicle is at the discretion of the arresting officer. Due to the complexity of this case, it is usually advisable to hire a reckless driving attorney to help you fight these charges. Trying to defend yourself or attempting to plead guilty may even land you in jail. Reckless driving by a faulty vehicle means you were driving operating a motor vehicle that endangers life, limb or property. Driving a vehicle with faulty brakes is among the most common offenses in this category. However, unless you caused an accident, it is almost impossible for an officer to determine your vehicle has faulty brakes. The prosecutor also needs to prove the brakes were improperly adjusted or faulty. Since police are not mechanics, it is not easy for them to prove that your car has faulty brakes. An accomplished criminal defense lawyer can help you fight these charges, by proving that the law was violated during your arrest or your car was searched illegally without a search warrant.
Reckless Driving by Accident
Whenever a motor vehicle accident happens, police officers usually arrive at the crime scene to assess the situation and gather evidence. If the law enforcement officers determine that your aggressive driving behavior was the cause, then you can be charged with reckless driving by accident. Reckless driving by accident can result from several instances. The law enforcement officer who arrives at the scene of the accident will talk to the drivers involved, interview witnesses and assess the condition of the vehicles involved in the accident. The driver who caused the accident will then be held responsible.
Penalties for Reckless Driving
As noted earlier, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense in Virginia. Therefore, once you are convicted, you should expect severe penalties such as heavy fines, a jail term of up 12 months, and suspension of your driving privileges. You also need to note that reckless driving can also be charged as Class 6 felony under various circumstances.
Jail Time: If you are convicted of reckless driving in Hanover County, Virginia, then you can be sent to prison for at least 12 months. However, if you have never committed such an offense again, there are high chances that you will not receive a jail term. On the other hand, if you have a history of bad driving behaviors or you have prior reckless driving convictions, then you should brace yourself for a jail sentence. Being sentenced to jail means loss of freedom and a bad reputation.
Furthermore, you will not be in a position to attend to your family’s needs when you are behind bars. Also, if you receive the maximum prison sentence, then you will eventually lose your employment. Your business may also suffer if you are self-employed since you will not be in a position to attend your client’s needs adequately. If you caused the death of another person, then you will face Class 6 felony charges. A conviction from these charges carries a prison sentence of at least 5 years. However, the law allows a jury or judge to sentence the accused for 12 months or less, depending on the circumstances in the case. If it was a case of reckless driving by excessive speed, some judges will hand out a sentence based on the mph exceeded. Every mph exceeded is equal to a day in jail. Therefore, if you were driving at 25 mph over the posted speed limit, then some judges will sentence you to 20 days in jail.
Fines: Whether you have been convicted of a Class 6 felony or a Class 1 misdemeanor, the maximum penalty you can receive is $2,500. It is upon the discretion of the judge to determine the actual amount of the fine. Some will fine you more or less, depending on the extent of your offense. Your driving history, as well as prior convictions also come into play, when the judge is determining the actual fine amount. First offenders usually get a small fine as compared to those with a history of reckless driving convictions. Some judges may even choose not to fine you at all, depending on the circumstances of your case, as well as how you defend yourself against these charges. Most judges in the Commonwealth of Virginia charge you $6 for every mph exceeded above the posted speed limit. For example, if you were speeding at 30 mph above the posted speed limit, then you will be charged a fine of $180, on top of court fees.
Suspension of Driving Privileges: You may also lose your driving license if you have been convicted of reckless driving in Hanover County, Virginia. The period of suspension can be anywhere from 10 days to 6 months. For your license to be reinstated, you will have to meet certain conditions as spelled out by the judge, within a certain period. If you are arrested while driving with a suspended driving license, then you will be facing a Class 6 felony charge, instead of misdemeanor offenses. Apart from that, your license will also be suspended for a longer period or even face permanent revocation. Besides license suspension, you will also end up with 6 demerit points on your driving record. That record will remain there for at least 11 years.
Other Consequences: Apart from fines, jail term and suspension of driving privileges, a conviction due to reckless driving also carries personal consequences, which can affect your life and career. First, there is an increase in insurance rates. Each insurance company uses certain criteria for determining insurance rates. Some will use your driving record while others will consider the number of years you have been on the road. However, one thing remains constant among insurance companies – they will increase premiums when you have been convicted of reckless driving.
There is also the issue of a permanent criminal record that comes with conviction. Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor offense. It can also be considered as a Class 6 felony charge, depending on certain circumstances. These offenses are criminal, and they will, therefore, come with a criminal record that is almost impossible to expunge. A criminal record may deny you various opportunities, especially in education and employment. Only a handful of individuals and institutions will be willing to give an opportunity to someone with a criminal record. You will also face difficulties while trying to secure security clearances, owing to your criminal record. Whether that stops you from getting a contract or employment opportunity usually depends on the agency conducting the clearances. If you caused an accident that led to death, injuries or destruction of property due to your reckless driving, then you can be sued for those damages. If convicted, you might be required to reimburse the medical bills incurred or pay for the damaged property.
Experienced Hanover County Reckless Driving Lawyers
At Joyner Law PLLC, we know that it might not have been your intention to be involved in an accident or to drive a vehicle with faulty brakes. Sometimes, even vehicles with the best maintenance record develop mechanical failure, leading to an accident. You might also be rushing home to attend to an emergency or to avoid bad weather, only to be arrested for excessive speed. In all these instances, it was not your intention to violate traffic rules. However, once you have been arrested and charged with reckless driving, you will be arraigned in court to face the charges. If you find yourself in that situation, don’t panic. Instead, contact our Hanover County VA reckless driving lawyers as soon as possible. Doing that early will give us ample time to assess the charges and develop a strong defense strategy for your case. We have represented hundreds of drivers facing reckless driving charges in Virginia. We, therefore, understand the amount of stress and anxiety that you might be going through, due to these criminal charges. At Joyner Law PLLC, we are here to protect your rights and make sure you get a fair hearing during the trial. We will work as hard as possible to secure a positive outcome in your case, depending on the circumstances. A favorable outcome may be in the form of a dismissal of the case or reduction of the charges, based the unique facts in your case. We aim to secure a dismissal of the charges. If that is not possible, we will work with the prosecution to pursue a reduction of the charges, to ensure they have the least impact on your life. If that is not possible, then we will proceed to trial and mount a strong defense to ensure you don’t end up with damaging consequences in your life.
Contact Us Today
If you have been charged with reckless driving in Hanover County, Virginia, you need to consult a lawyer who can help you fight these charges. As noted earlier, a conviction from reckless driving comes with severe consequences, including a possible jail term, loss or suspension of driving privileges and heavy fines. It can also jeopardize your opportunities in education, housing, and employment, due to the permanent criminal record that comes with conviction. Due to the seriousness of reckless driving charges, you need the best criminal defense attorney to represent you in court and defend your rights. Contact us today and schedule a free appointment.