Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer Joseph Yoon Has Your Back
In Fairfax, Reckless Driving is a criminal offense. Officially classified as a Class 1 misdemeanor, a Reckless Driving conviction will become part of your permanent criminal record, and all charges should be treated seriously. If you are facing Reckless Driving in Fairfax, don’t leave your fate in the hands of the courts. Trust Joseph Yoon at Yoon Law Firm, PLLC, to help resolve your Reckless Driving charges.
Reckless Driving – The Basics
Virginia Reckless Driving laws cover a variety of motor vehicle infractions, ranging from general reckless driving to racing. Basically, if a law enforcement official believes you are operating your motor vehicle with a blatant disregard for the safety of persons or property, or a disregard for any consequences that may ensue, you could be charged with Reckless Driving.
Because Reckless Driving is a criminal offense, whatever ticket you receive is actually a Virginia Uniform Summons for Reckless Driving. At minimum, the fine is $250, but harsher penalties are more common. In certain circumstances, your reckless driving could even lead to felony charges. If you do not answer the summons to appear in court, a warrant will be issued for your arrest. Your best option for defense is to partner with a Fairfax County Reckless Driving attorney as soon as possible.
It’s important to know that even if you are keeping up with flow of traffic, you could still be pulled over, ticketed, and convicted for reckless driving. Additionally, even if you are driving slower than other vehicles, you can still be charged with reckless driving.
What are Common Reckless Driving Infractions in Fairfax County and Virginia?
According to Virginia Law, many types of traffic infractions can be classified as Reckless Driving. The general definition of Reckless Driving (VA Code § 46.2-852) is:
Driving a motor vehicle recklessly in any way, driving at excessive speeds, or driving without concern for the lives or property of any persons, on any highway in Virginia, regardless of posted maximum speeds.
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 are traveling in excess of 80 mph regardless of the posted limit. Even though it’s a speeding infraction, it is still considered a Class 1 misdemeanor and needs to be taken as seriously as any other Reckless Driving charge.
While speed is a common Fairfax Reckless Driving charge, other driving infractions can also lead to Reckless Driving convictions. For the complete list of Virginia Reckless Driving charges, see below:
Virginia Reckless Driving Codes:
- General reckless driving – whether or not your driving could have endangered persons or property – VA Code § 46.2-852
- Driving a vehicle which is not fully under control – VA Code § 46.2-853
- Passing another vehicle on or at the crest of a grade or on a curve – VA Code § 46.2-854
- Driving while the driver’s view is obstructed or control is impaired – VA Code § 46.2-855
- Passing two vehicles abreast (i.e., passing on the shoulder) – VA Code § 46.2-856
- Driving two vehicles (including motorcycles) side-by-side in a single lane – VA Code § 46.2-857
- Passing at a railroad grade crossing – VA Code § 46.2-858
- Passing a stopped school bus – VA Code § 46.2-859
- Failure to signal – VA Code § 46.2-860
- Driving too fast for conditions – VA Code § 46.2-861
- Excessive speed – VA Code § 46.2-862
- Failure to yield right-of-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 as serious as a DUI or Larceny charge. If convicted of Reckless Driving, you could be facing harsh penalties including:
- Up to 12 months in prison
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- Potential loss of your driving privileges for up to 6 months
- Six demerit points on your license
- Other charges depending on your specific circumstances.
If it is determined that your reckless driving was related to alcohol consumption or drug use, the court may require you to enroll in an Alcohol Safety Action Program in addition to facing other penalties. Your driving privileges may not be reinstated until you present a certificate of enrollment to the court.
The court will also determine whether or not your reckless driving offense warrants jail time. If you were driving 100 mph or 30-35 mph over the posted speed limit, or if you have previous speeding infractions, drove erratically in addition to your excessive speeds, or caused problems for the law enforcement officer, many judges will sentence you to active jail time at a maximum of one year. Furthermore, law enforcement officers have the authority to arrest you at the time of the infraction and without a warrant.
Depending on your age or damages caused by your reckless driving, different charges may apply. If you are convicted of Reckless Driving after your driving privileges have been revoked or suspended for another moving violation, or if someone is killed as a direct result of your reckless driving, you could be facing Class 6 felony charges.
In addition to these penalties, a reckless driving conviction will become part of your permanent criminal record and cannot be expunged. This can have a negative impact on your current job or on future employment opportunities. Government employees could see a reckless driving charge negatively affect their security clearance. Your conviction will be made known to anyone who conducts a criminal background check on you.
How the Authorities Calculate Your Speed
In order to determine how fast you are driving, law enforcement officials typically rely on five specific methods to calculate your speed. Officers may use a single method or a combination to prove that you were traveling at reckless speeds.
- Pacing – This occurs when an officer matches the speed of your vehicle and follows behind you for at least 0.2 miles while keeping an equal 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 may be either stationary or mobile, and functions by sending out radio waves that are then bounced off moving vehicles. The frequency of the radio waves correlates to the speed of an oncoming vehicle, giving an accurate measure for 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 will send several beams of light toward an oncoming vehicle. The time it takes the individual laser beams to reach the vehicle as the vehicle travels can be used to calculate the vehicle’s speed.
- VASCAR – This stands for Visual Average Speed Computer and Recorder, and is a microcomputer device connected to the odometer of a law enforcement vehicle. The device allows the police to determine how quickly you traveled a certain distance. In this case, a patrol car using VASCAR may pass you, then wait for you to arrive at a specific point further up the road. By calculating how long it took you to travel between the start and stop points, law enforcement officers can determine your speed.
- Detection by Aircraft – Using a microcomputer device attached to an aircraft, law enforcement officials will calculate the time it took the target vehicle to travel between two fixed points. The elapsed time is then used to calculate speed.
In order for any of these calculations to stand up in court, law enforcement officials have to be able to prove that each device was properly calibrated at the time of the incident. Authorities must provide a calibration certificate proving the unit in question was calibrated no more than 6 months prior to the offense. If the PACE method was used, the speedometer of the officer’s vehicle must also have been recently calibrated in order for the data to be used as evidence against you.
Why You Need a Reckless Driving Lawyer
Reckless Driving convictions have extensive consequences. Not only could your driver’s license, driving record, wallet, and freedom take a hit, you could also be liable for court costs. Plus, costs for car insurance could increase. And, because a conviction will become part of your permanent criminal record, your employment or future opportunities could be negatively impacted.
Since the implications of Reckless Driving are severe, it’s important to take a Reckless Driving charge seriously and partner with a Fairfax County Reckless Driving lawyer as soon as possible. A lawyer will defend your case in court and can help you avoid conviction or argue for the judge to reduce the charges to a non-criminal offense.
Proving Reckless Driving
In order to be convicted of Reckless Driving in Virginia, the court must be able to prove that you were the driver of a motor vehicle operating recklessly, or that you were traveling 20 mph or more over the posted limit, or 81 mph or more regardless of the posted speed limit. The infraction must have taken place on a highway in Virginia. If any of these facts are in doubt, your case may be dismissed.
Common Defense Strategies
- No proof of accuracy, mistakes when calculating speed, improper methods for gathering speed – If it can be proved that the speeding data was collected in error, or if the device used to calculate your speed has no proof of accuracy, the courts may dismiss your case. Additionally, if the information was gathered illegally, was fabricated, or contains errors, charges may be dropped.
- Improper Venue – Your reckless driving incident must have taken place in the city or county in which you were charged in order for the court to convict. Charges must be dismissed if there is a lack of evidence proving venue
- Not a highway – You cannot be charged with Reckless Driving in Fairfax County in if the incident did not take place on a highway (meaning any public road intended for vehicular travel).
- Not a motor vehicle – Reckless Driving charges only apply to self-propelled vehicles. If your “vehicle” is not designed for self-propulsion, you cannot be charged with Reckless Driving. Under Virginia Code, mopeds are not considered motor vehicles.
- Statute of limitations for misdemeanors – Charges may be dropped if the courts do not decide to prosecute within one year of the offense
If there is evidence against you, it will be difficult to avoid conviction entirely. However, some jurisdictions may determine that extraneous factors warrant all charges be dismissed. The court may also rule that you can avoid conviction by meeting set terms and conditions. You could also avoid conviction if the law enforcement officer or prosecutor agree to drop the charges.
Reducing Charges to a Non-Criminal Offense
In certain cases, and depending on the court, there is the possibility that your Reckless Driving charges could be reduced to a non-criminal offense. Typically, this reduction is dependent on you meeting certain terms and conditions set forth by the court. Instead of a Reckless Driving charge on your permanent record, your jurisdiction may reduce charges to varying degrees of speeding infractions, improper driving, or defective equipment. If your charges are reduced, you will no longer face possible jail time or suspension of your driving privileges.
How a Fairfax Reckless Driving Lawyer Can Help
Even if this was your first offense, a Reckless Driving conviction can have lasting consequences that could impact your future. By partnering with a qualified Fairfax County Reckless Driving lawyer, you have a better chance of fighting your Reckless Driving charges. At Yoon Law Firm, PLLC, Attorney Joseph Yoon is committed to getting you the best results possible for your unique situation. From defending your case in court, to negotiating sentences, you can depend on Joseph Yoon for aggressive representation backed by the knowledge and experience necessary to get you the most favorable outcome.
Where We Operate
In addition to representing Reckless Driving charges in Fairfax City and Fairfax County, our office handles cases all over Northern Virginia including:
- The Towns of Herndon and Vienna
- The Cities of Alexandria, Manassas, and Falls Church
- Loudoun County, Stafford County, Fauquier County, Prince William County, and Arlington County