Joseph Yoon, Fairfax reckless driving attorney, stands behind you
In Fairfax, reckless driving is a criminal offense. Officially classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, a reckless driving conviction becomes part of your permanent criminal record and all charges should be taken seriously. If you're confronted with reckless driving in Fairfax, don't leave your fate to the courts. Trust Joseph Yoon of Yoon Law Firm, PLLC to solve your reckless driving charges.
Reckless Driving - The Basics
Virginia reckless driving laws cover a variety of motor vehicle violations ranging from general reckless driving to racing. If a law enforcement officer believes that you are operating your motor vehicle with a manifest disregard for the safety of people or property, or with disregard for any consequences that may result, you may be charged with reckless driving as a general rule.
Because reckless driving is a criminal offense, every ticket you get is actually a Virginia Uniform reckless driving summons. The minimum fine is $250, but harsher penalties are more common. In certain circumstances, your reckless driving may even result in a criminal charge. If you fail to comply with the subpoena, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Your best defense option is to work with a Fairfax County reckless driving attorney as soon as possible.
It's important to know that even if you keep up with the flow of traffic, you can still be stopped, fined, and convicted of reckless driving. In addition, even if you drive slower than other vehicles, you can be charged with reckless driving.
What are common reckless driving violations in Fairfax County and Virginia?
Under Virginia law, many types of traffic violations can be classified as reckless driving. The general definition of reckless driving (VA-Code § 46.2-852) Is:
Any reckless driving of a motor vehicle, speeding, or driving without regard to life or property on any highway in Virginia, regardless of posted speed limits.
One of the most common reckless driving charges in the Commonwealth of Virginia is reckless driving by speed (VA-Code § 46.2-862). You can be charged with this type of reckless driving if you are caught driving more than 20 mph over the posted speed limit, or if you drive faster than 80 mph regardless of the posted speed limit. Even though it is a speeding violation, it is still considered a Class 1 offense and must be taken just as seriously as any other reckless driving charge.
While speeding is a common reckless driving charge in Fairfax, other driving violations can also lead to reckless driving convictions. The full list of reckless driving charges in Virginia is below:
Virginia reckless driving codes:
- General reckless driving—whether or not your driving might have endangered people or property—VA-Code § 46.2-852
- Driving a vehicle not in full control -VA-Code § 46.2-853
- Overtaking another vehicle on or at the top of a hill or corner -VA-Code § 46.2-854
- Driving with limited driver visibility or control -VA-Code § 46.2-855
- Passing two vehicles side by side (i.e. overtaking on the hard shoulder) –VA-Code § 46.2-856
- Driving two vehicles (including motorcycles) side by side in one lane –VA-Code § 46.2-857
- Passing a railroad crossing –VA-Code § 46.2-858
- Past a stopped school bus –VA-Code § 46.2-859
- Loss of signal –VA-Code § 46.2-860
- Driving too fast for the conditions –VA-Code § 46.2-861
- Over the speed limit -VA-Code § 46.2-862
- Failure to give way –VA-Code § 46.2-863
- Reckless driving in a parking lot –VA-Code § 46.2-864
- Drag Racing –VA-Code § 46.2-865
Penalties for reckless driving in Fairfax and Virginia
As a Class 1 misdemeanor, reckless driving is just as serious as a charge of DUI or theft. If you're convicted of reckless driving, you could face harsh penalties, including:
- Up to 12 months in prison
- Up to $2,500 fine
- Possible loss of your driving authorizations for up to 6 months
- Six demerits on your driver's license
- Other fees depending on your specific circumstances.
If your reckless driving is determined to be related to alcohol or drug use, the court may require you to enroll in an alcohol safety program in addition to other penalties. Your driver's license may not be regained until you present a certificate of enrollment to the court.
The court will also decide whether or not your reckless driving warrants jail time. If you were going 100 mph or 30-35 mph over the posted speed limit, or if you have previously committed speeding offenses, have driven erratically in addition to your speeding, or caused problems for the enforcement officer, many judges will actively sentence you to a maximum of one year's imprisonment . In addition, law enforcement officers have the power to arrest you at the time of the violation and without a warrant.
Different fees may apply depending on your age or damage caused by reckless driving. If you are convicted of reckless driving after having your driver's license revoked or suspended for another traffic violation, or if someone is killed as a direct result of your reckless driving, you could face a Class 6 felony charge.
In addition to these penalties, a reckless driving conviction becomes part of your permanent criminal record and cannot be erased. This may adversely affect your current job or future employment opportunities. Government employees might see a reckless fare charge negatively affecting their security clearance. Your conviction will be disclosed to anyone conducting a criminal background check.
How the authorities calculate your speed
To determine how fast you're driving, law enforcement typically rely on five specific methods of calculating your speed. Officers can use a single method or a combination to prove you were traveling at a reckless speed.
- Pacing- This happens when an officer matches your vehicle's speed and follows you for at least 0.2 miles while maintaining the same distance between your vehicle and the police cruiser. By looking at his own speedometer, the officer can determine how fast the target vehicle is traveling.
- Radar– A radar device can be either stationary or mobile and works by emitting radio waves which are then reflected by moving vehicles. The frequency of the radio waves correlates to the speed of an oncoming vehicle and gives an accurate measure of how fast a vehicle is traveling.
- Laser Speed Detection (LIDAR)– LIDAR is a type of radar that uses a laser instead of radio waves. A LIDAR gun emits multiple beams of light towards an oncoming vehicle. The speed of the vehicle can be calculated from the time required for the individual laser beams to reach the vehicle while driving.
- VASCAR– This stands for Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder and is a microcomputer device connected to the odometer on a police vehicle. With the device, the police can determine how fast you have covered a certain distance. In this case, a squad car with VASCAR can drive past you and then wait for you at a certain point further up the road. By calculating the time it took you to travel between the start and stop points, law enforcement officers can determine your speed.
- Aircraft detection- Using a microcomputer device attached to an aircraft, law enforcement officers calculate the time it took the target vehicle to travel between two fixed points. The elapsed time is then used to calculate the speed.
For these calculations to stand up in court, law enforcement must be able to show that each device was properly calibrated at the time of the incident. Authorities must provide a calibration certificate stating that the device in question was calibrated no more than 6 months prior to the offence. If the PACE method was used, the officer's vehicle speedometer must also have been recently calibrated for the data to be used as evidence against you.
Why you need a reckless driving attorney
Reckless driving convictions have far-reaching consequences. Not only could your driver's license, driver's license, wallet and liberty be affected, you could also be held liable for court costs. In addition, the cost of car insurance could increase. And since a conviction becomes part of your permanent criminal record, your employment or future opportunities could be adversely affected.
Because the effects of reckless driving are severe, it's important to take a reckless driving charge seriously and work with a Fairfax County reckless driving attorney as soon as possible. A lawyer will defend your case in court and can help you avoid a conviction or have the judge reduce the charge to a non-criminal offense.
Prove reckless driving
In Virginia, to be convicted of reckless driving, the court must be able to show that you were the driver of a motor vehicle that drove recklessly, or that you drove 20 mph or more over the posted limit, or regardless, 81 mph or more the posted speed limit. The violation must have taken place on a Virginia highway. If any of these facts are in doubt, your case may be dismissed.
Common Defense Strategies
- No proof of accuracy, errors in speed calculation, improper methods of speed acquisition– If it can be shown that the speed data was collected in error, or if the device used to calculate your speed has no proof of accuracy, the courts can dismiss your case. In addition, charges can be dropped if the information was illegally collected, fabricated, or contains errors.
- Invalid Venue– Your reckless driving must have occurred in the city or county where you were charged in order for the court to convict you. The charge must be dismissed if there is insufficient evidence of jurisdiction
- No highway– You cannot be charged with reckless driving in Fairfax County if the incident did not occur on a freeway (i.e., a public road designated for vehicular traffic).
- No motor vehicle– Reckless driving charges apply to self-driving vehicles only. If your "vehicle" is not designed to be self-propelled, you cannot be charged with reckless driving. Mopeds are not motor vehicles under the Virginia Code.
- Statute of limitations in the case of administrative offences– The charges can be dropped if the courts do not decide to bring charges within one year of the offence
If there is evidence against you, it will be difficult to completely avoid conviction. However, some jurisdictions may determine that external factors justify dismissing all charges. The court may also decide that you can avoid conviction by meeting specified conditions. You could also avoid a conviction if the law enforcement officer or prosecutor agrees to drop the charges.
Reduction of the charge to a non-criminal offense
In certain cases and depending on the court, your reckless driving charge may be reduced to a non-criminal offense. Typically, this reduction is conditional on you meeting certain conditions set by the court. In lieu of a reckless driving charge on your permanent record, your jurisdiction may reduce speeding, improper driving, or defective equipment charges to varying degrees. When your fees are reduced, you no longer have to worry about possible jail time or your driver's license being suspended.
How a Fairfax reckless driving attorney can help
Even if this was your first offense, a reckless driving conviction can have lasting consequences that could affect your future. By working with a qualified reckless driving attorney in Fairfax County, you have a better chance of defending your reckless driving charge. At Yoon Law Firm, PLLC, Attorney Joseph Yoon strives to provide you with the best possible outcomes for your unique situation. From defending your case in court to negotiating judgments, you can rely on Joseph Yoon's aggressive representation, backed by the knowledge and experience necessary to obtain the most favorable outcome for you.
Where we operate
In addition to representing reckless driving charges in Fairfax City and Fairfax County, our office handles cases throughout Northern Virginia, including:
- The cities of Herndon and Vienna
- The cities of Alexandria, Manassas and Falls Church
- Loudoun County, Stafford County, Fauquier County, Prince William County und Arlington County
Frequently asked questions about reckless driving