S & R Law Firm
Alexandria Reckless Driving Lawyer
Pretty much every Alexandrian knows this feeling: You’re driving, perhaps down Duke or Washington Street, and you catch a glimpse of a squad car whipping out into the lane behind you. The blue lights start flashing, and you’re almost certain you’re about to get a speeding ticket.
It’s a rough feeling, but it can be a lot rougher. If that exchange ends in a reckless driving charge, you’re in a much worse situation than you would have been with a simple speeding ticket. You’re now facing a criminal charge — one that can land you in jail and with fines and a license suspension.
If that sounds like the situation you’re in right now, there’s good news: You can fight a reckless driving charge. And the Alexandria reckless driving lawyers at S&R Law can help you do it. Read on to learn more about reckless driving in Alexandria, Virginia, and how you can beat your charge.Ways to Get an Alexandria Reckless Driving Ticket: More Than Just Speed
You don’t have to look far in Virginia to find someone in your situation. A 2020 study found that Virginia had more people charged with reckless driving than any other state in the U.S., with 279 percent more alleged reckless drivers than the national average. That’s a lot of people in a bad situation.
Everyone who is charged with reckless driving in Alexandria, Virginia, is in a serious legal situation, but that doesn’t mean they all are accused of doing the same thing. In fact, dozens of actions in traffic can land you with an Alexandria reckless driving ticket. We discuss some of the most common reasons people get slapped with this charge below.Speeding
Speeding isn’t the only way to get charged with reckless driving in Alexandria, but it’s certainly one of the most common ways. But how do police officers know when a stop should result in a reckless driving charge instead of a simple speeding ticket?
As it turns out, Virginia law is very specific on this subject. Under Virginia Code § 46.2-862, you can be charged with reckless driving for speeding in two ways:
- Driving more than 20 miles per hour faster than the posted speed limit
- Driving faster than 85 miles per hour, regardless of what the posted speed limit is
If you’re accused of going 59 miles per hour in a 40-mile-per-hour zone, you might get a speeding ticket. But if you’re accused of going 61 in that same area, you might end up with a much more serious reckless driving charge. That’s a pretty thin line.Driving in a ‘Dangerous’ Way
If you are driving in a way that a police officer thinks might “endanger the life, limb, or property of any person” (Virginia Code § 46.2-852), you can be charged with reckless driving. Think about that for a moment — cars are inherently dangerous because they are multi-ton machines made of metal and glass, and it’s up to a police officer’s judgment to decide whether you were somehow putting someone’s life or property in danger while driving.
In other words, a long list of actions may trigger a reckless driving charge. Here are some examples:
- Not giving the proper signals while driving
- Passing a vehicle while your view is obstructed
- Failing to yield for ambulances or fire trucks
- Many other offenses
A problem with your vehicle could lead to you getting a reckless driving ticket in Alexandria. That sounds a little unfair, but it’s what Virginia Code § 46.2-853 says. On any highway in Virginia, if a police officer spots you driving a vehicle with brakes in poor condition or some similar problem that could cause an accident, they can charge you with reckless driving.Potential Penalties for Reckless Driving
It’s clear that reckless driving can mean a lot of different things in Virginia, but the potential penalties those charged with this crime face are relatively consistent. According to Virginia Code § 46.2-868, reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor. That means you could face the following penalties if you are convicted:
- Up to a year in jail
- Up to $2,500 in fines
- Suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months
- Six points on your driver’s license
If you’re accused of using your smartphone or a similar handheld electronic device when you were charged with reckless driving, you will also face a minimum $250 fine. And if the actions you’re accused of caused someone’s death, you can be charged with a Class 6 felony, which comes with far more serious penalties.How to Fight an Alexandria Reckless Driving Ticket
You have a right to fight your reckless driving charge. While there are many ways to do that, it’s helpful to consult with a reckless driving lawyer in Alexandria to determine the best course of action. With that said, there are two main ways to fight a reckless driving charge: building a defense to fight it directly or trying to get the charge reduced to something less serious.Building a Defense for Reckless Driving
Essentially, fighting a criminal charge is like having an argument. You need some good points on your side to help convince the judge that you don’t deserve the penalties of the crime you’re charged with. For reckless driving, that may mean pointing to a solid driving record, proving that your speedometer wasn’t working, or showing that you were driving recklessly because you were having an emergency of some kind.
You can’t just pick a defense for reckless driving out of a hat. An Alexandria reckless driving attorney can look at your situation and help you understand which defense may work best.Getting Your Charge Reduced
If it doesn’t seem likely that you will be able to beat your reckless driving charge altogether, your next best option may be to get the charge reduced. Judges in Alexandria and surrounding areas have wide discretion to reduce reckless driving charges. For example, a judge may be convinced to reduce your reckless driving charge to “improper driving.” Improper driving is a traffic infraction — not a criminal charge like reckless driving — and comes with much lighter penalties.
One way to try to convince a judge to reduce your charge might be to recommend that you go to traffic school. In other cases, you may point to some of the factors you would point to if you were trying to beat the charge altogether, such as a history of safe driving and few traffic infractions.Charged With Reckless Driving in Alexandria?
If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, you need to know this is not a speeding ticket. It’s a misdemeanor that can stay on your record for years and impact your life in severe and numerous ways.
It’s not a speeding ticket, so don’t treat it like one. Instead of waiting for your court date and hoping for the best, take action to give yourself a chance of avoiding harsh penalties. To get fierce legal representation as you fight your charge, reach out to the trusted Alexandria reckless driving lawyers at S&R Law today. Contact us online or give us a call at 703.273.6431 to start building your defense.