Talk with a Knowledgeable Manassas Reckless Driving Attorney About Your Case Today!
Putting the pedal to the metal in Virginia can cost you. State troopers and municipal police officers patrol the roads aggressively looking for anyone who violates the Commonwealth’s traffic laws—especially speeders.
You might wonder if it is necessary to contest your speeding ticket or if you should represent yourself. You might save some money initially by not contesting the charge or by representing yourself in traffic court. However, seeking the advice of a Manassas reckless driving attorney as soon as you can after police cite you could help you avoid paying a heavy fine as well as harsher penalties in the future.
A Manassas Reckless Driving Lawyer with Over 20 Years of Experience Can Handle Your Case Promptly and Efficiently
The police in the Commonwealth of Virginia strictly enforce the state’s rigid speeding rules. The police developed techniques to help them capture people speeding. Their techniques are always advancing. Having a lawyer who has expertise in successfully defending speeding motorists can give you the edge you need in traffic court.
What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?
Speeding in Virginia is a traffic offense police use to pull people over. Under Virginia law, anyone caught driving over 85 miles per hour or 20 miles per hour over the speed limit can receive a reckless driving charge. Therefore, going 75 miles per hour in a 55-miles-per-hour zone is reckless driving. Also, driving 86 miles per hour in one of Virginia’s many 70-miles-per-hour zones constitutes reckless driving.
Other actions that can constitute reckless driving include:
- Passing a school bus,
- Drag racing,
- Passing in a no-passing zone,
- Failing to signal,
- Passing at a railroad crossing,
- Lack of adequate brakes,
- Passing an emergency vehicle,
- Speeding in a construction zone, and
- Having a view that is obstructed in a way that interferes with the driver’s ability to control the vehicle.
The police must acquire exact readings to charge people with reckless driving. To help them achieve accurate readings, police officers often use advanced technology called “LiDAR” to detect reckless drivers. LiDAR is an acronym for “light detection and ranging.” LiDAR is an upgrade from radar.
LiDAR works by sending laser pulses through a device and measuring the time that passes for the laser to return to the device. The device calculates the distance the object is from the thing and then determines the speed. Police can use LiDAR while in a fixed position, such as concealed roadside, or while moving.
Courts of the Commonwealth regard LiDAR as a widely accepted technology that provides accurate results. Notwithstanding LiDAR’s accuracy, a judge does not have to take the officer’s reading as true.
How Can a Reckless Driving Attorney Win Your Case If the Police Used LiDAR?
LiDAR, like all scientific measuring devices, requires calibration. The prosecution has the burden to show that the device was correctly working to admit LiDAR evidence against you in court. The officer using the LiDAR device must demonstrate proper training on the unit. If the officer using the device fails to calibrate the LiDAR unit properly, then the judge does not have to accept the reading the officer gives in court.
The prosecutors will usually obtain calibration records to show the unit worked correctly to record your speed.
Every officer who uses a LiDAR unit must adequately store the unit to prevent damage as well. The court cannot accept a reading from a broken unit as accurate and may dismiss your case.
Atmospheric conditions may also play a role in providing an inaccurate reading. Windy or rainy weather could help you question the accuracy of the LiDAR reading. Additionally, the position of the officer while making the reading influences the accuracy of the LiDAR result.
The officer does not have to be on level ground to record an accurate reading. However, taking a position high on a hill could negatively affect the reading. You could win your ticket appeal if the judge finds that the weather conditions or another factor interfered with an accurate reading.
Likewise, the judge does not have to accept the reading if there is a chance that the LiDAR unit tracked an object other than the subject vehicle. Operator error eliminates the usefulness of the reading. The court could dismiss your case if the judge is not convinced that the officer recorded your car instead of someone else’s.
Simply telling a judge your version of events is seldom sufficient to win. With a skilled Manassas reckless driving attorney on your team, you could submit evidence that contradicts the officer’s testimony, which could help you win your case.
Is Evidence of Pacing or Clocking Allowed in Court?
Testimony from police officers that they judged a person’s speed by “pacing” or “clocking” is evidence a judge will allow in court. Pacing or clocking refers to when a police officer pulls behind a person they suspect of speeding and follows at a pace or speed at which the officer does not gain or lose ground.
Maintaining the same distance from the other vehicle indicates that both vehicles are traveling at the same rate. Pacing is not foolproof and often provides inaccurate results. The officer has to follow the suspect’s car for a known distance and have an accurate speedometer to record a precise pacing result.
A Manassas reckless driving lawyer with sound experience can poke holes in the officer’s testimony and argue that the court should not accept the evidence as accurate. Without a knowledgeable reckless driving attorney, the court might find you guilty based on weak evidence.
Virginia police also use another statute to charge people with reckless driving regardless of the posted speed limit. Police can charge a person with reckless driving for driving excessively fast for the road and traffic conditions. The police can use this law to charge someone with reckless driving even if they obey the posted speed limit.
Possible Penalties for Reckless Driving
Reckless driving is a criminal offense. Under Virginia law, a judge could sentence a person convicted of reckless driving to no more than one year in jail and issue a fine of not more than $2,500. Furthermore, you face a license suspension of six months.
The impact of the criminal sanctions on your life could be disastrous. The unexpected consequences of a reckless driving conviction can also hurt you and your family. You will have a criminal record if you are convicted. Also, your car insurance rates could shoot up.
Also, the DMV will add demerit points to your license. Accumulating too many points within a year or two could result in an additional license suspension. You might have to attend driving school and pay exorbitant license reinstatement fees before you can drive again.
A knowledgeable Manassas reckless driving attorney could explain your rights to you and devise a strategy that reduces your exposure to the harsh consequences of a reckless driving conviction. Furthermore, an experienced lawyer could negotiate your case to a simple traffic offense, so you can avoid facing a criminal charge.
Frequently Asked Questions About Reckless Driving in Virginia
There are several questions you might want to ask a criminal defense lawyer if you are facing reckless driving charges. We have provided answers to some of the most common reckless driving questions below.
How Many Points Is a Reckless Driving Conviction in Virginia?
A reckless driving conviction will result in six points added to your Virginia driving record. If you receive eighteen demerit points on your driving record within one year or twenty-four demerit points within two years, the Virginia DMV can suspend your license.
Additionally, the DMV can order you to attend a driver improvement class if you incur twelve points within one year. Thus, receiving two reckless driving convictions within a year can result in taking a mandatory driving class. Losing your license can impact several areas of your life, from getting to work to securing basic necessities.
Contact a Manassas reckless driving attorney to discuss ways to lessen the points assessed against your Virginia driving record.
How Long Do Demerit Points Stay on My Driving Record?
DMV demerit points stay on your driving record for two years from the date of the offense. However, criminal convictions will stay on your record longer, depending on the severity of the offense.
Can I Still Drive After I’m Charged With Reckless Driving?
Before you are convicted, you keep the same driving privileges. After you are convicted, Virginia law authorizes the judge to suspend your driver’s license. If the judge suspends your license, you can petition for restricted driving privileges. A Manassas DUI attorney can help explain the status of your driving privileges. Contact our office to speak with a lawyer for reckless driving.
Is Reckless Driving a Traffic Infraction in Virginia?
No, reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense. A reckless driving charge stays on your Virginia criminal record for eleven years. In some cases, a criminal defense attorney can negotiate a plea agreement to the lesser charge of “improper driving.” Improper driving is considered a traffic infraction rather than a misdemeanor.
GET THE EXPERT LEGAL HELP YOU NEED RIGHT AWAY BY CONTACTING OUR LAWYER, MICHAEL A. PIGNONE
Attorney Michael A. Pignone is an award-winning legal practitioner with a practice focused on fighting complicated traffic offenses like reckless driving. With experience clerking for the Prosecutor in the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office, Michael knows the internal strategies a prosecutor’s office uses to secure convictions.
Additionally, Michael was recently selected as the prosecutor for the City of Manassas, giving him a chance to expand on his already extensive knowledge of the criminal justice system. We will fight for your rights as a defendant and develop a strategic defense to secure a favorable outcome in your case.
Every case is unique, so we will dedicate time to listen to the facts of your case and tailor a strategy to your individual circumstances. Deciding not to hire a reckless driving lawyer can cost you your license.
If you want Michael Pignone’s vast knowledge and experience as a criminal defense lawyer on your side, contact our office.
Our experienced legal practitioner also handles other types of cases, including: