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Reckless Driving in Prince William County

Maybe you were going a little too fast on I-66 through Manassas past the Battlefield, or maybe you collided with another vehicle while you were turning into Potomac Mills in Woodbridge on a busy Saturday, but now you’ve got a reckless driving ticket in Prince William County. As you may have found out by searching the internet, reckless driving isn’t just like any other traffic ticket. You’re actually required to appear in Prince William County traffic court and you can’t prepay it to avoid the hassle. That’s because reckless driving is actually a criminal offense in Virginia. Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, similar to trespassing, obstruction of justice, disorderly conduct, or driving under the influence. It is punishable by up to one year in jail and up to a $2500 fine, and even a license suspension up to six months. Because of the potential consequences, we recommend that you reach out to our Prince William County reckless driving lawyers.

Am I Really Going to Go to Jail?!

As reckless driving law firm, a common question we receive is whether you’ll actually go to jail for a reckless driving charge in Prince William. If it’s the first time that you’ve gotten a reckless driving ticket and you weren’t going too far above the speed limit, the damages from your accident weren’t that bad, or the facts are otherwise not very serious, then the consequences are unlikely to be severe in Prince William County. In most cases, we are able to negotiate with the prosecutor so that your ticket does not end up as a criminal offense which means there will be no active jail sentence. On the other hand, if you were caught speeding at 90 MPH or above in Prince William county, a prosecutor might be inclined to seek an active jail sentence. As a reckless driving attorneys, we are able to negotiate and present mitigation to minimize the likelihood of incarceration.

Also, you do not need to appear in Prince William County traffic court for many reckless driving tickets if you hire a traffic attorney to represent you. Depending on the facts of your case, we can negotiate a favorable outcome with the prosecutor and enter the agreement in court with the judge without you having to take a day away from your busy schedule and without you having to be bored in traffic court!

How Does a Judge or Prosecutor Decide if My Ticket Should Be Reduced?

As Prince William County reckless driving attorneys, we are familiar with the factors that judges and prosecutors in Manassas look at in determining an outcome for your case.

The first factor considered in court is how dangerously the officer says you were driving. If there was an accident, we will want to know how severe the damages were and whether insurance has paid for any damages to the other vehicle. For a general reckless driving charge, we will want to know whether there were any other cars on the road and how bad the driving behavior was. For reckless by speed, it’s your speed as measured by the police officer, and how far above the speed limit that was. Anything 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit, or anything above 80 miles per hour, is reckless driving. Sometimes the officers might give you a “roadside break” and write your ticket for regular speeding, not reckless driving, if you only slightly exceeded these limits. Whether the officer is able to do this depends on his or her department’s regulations and orders from department leadership, which can often change with time, department, or area of the county. This is why it is important to consult with a Manassas reckless driving attorney who is familiar with Prince William County courthouse.

But whether the officer wrote you a ticket for reckless driving or for speeding, the second thing the prosecutor and judge will look at is your driving record. The officers are able to access your driving record if you have a Virginia driver’s license, but are probably not able to see your record if you have a license in any other state. If you have a license from another state, it will be very important for you to request your driving history for at least the past five years so that we can show whether you’ve had any tickets, and which kinds of tickets you’ve had.

The final factor, for reckless driving tickets or for any other type of case, is whether you were polite to the officer. You always have the right to remain silent and we usually recommend that you not answer law enforcement questions in most cases, but you should always be calm and respectful when interacting with a police officer. In Prince William County General District Court, a judge or a prosecutor is much more likely to treat you favorably if you were calm and respectful than if you had a bad attitude with the officer.

Depending on how serious your case is, we may also advise you to do some other things before court to make sure that you have the best possible outcome. We may ask you to take extra driving courses, complete community service hours, or have your car speedometer tested. These are not necessary in many cases, and we would be delighted to give you a free phone consultation with one of our Virginia Prince William county reckless driving lawyers.

So What Are the Potential Outcomes for My Ticket?

There are a number of options that we have in Prince William County when negotiating your Prince William reckless driving ticket with the prosecutor or arguing your case in front of the judge. Unlike some other counties in Northern Virginia, the prosecutors and judges in Prince William County will often let you take a court-ordered driver improvement course in order to dismiss your ticket. You must get permission from the court to make this arrangement, because not all cases are eligible. But if you haven’t had any tickets in the last five years and you were going under 89mph on a freeway (like I-66 or I-95), or you were going less than 30mph over the speed limit on any other road, you are likely eligible for “traffic school for dismissal” in Prince William County General District Court. It is useful to have a Prince William County traffic attorney who can advise you whether you can qualify for traffic school, to negotiate for this outcome with the prosecutor, and to walk you through the process and make sure all of the requirements are met to dismiss your ticket.

Another option that our Prince William reckless driving lawyer can potentially achieve is convincing the prosecutor to change the ticket to another type of traffic offense, one that is not criminal like reckless driving. Some examples include a regular speeding ticket that isn’t reckless driving, improper driving, failure to obey a highway sign, or defective equipment. These each have different penalties on your driving record and different effects on your insurance premiums. A knowledgeable Prince William traffic and criminal defense attorney who regularly practices in Manassas, Virginia will be able to advise you about the best available outcome for your situation.

What Can I Expect if I Do Go to Court in Prince William County?

There is only one courthouse in Prince William County, and it is in Manassas. You’re not allowed to bring your cell phone in the courthouse (or any weapons), so make sure you leave it in your car. There are three public parking lots close to the courthouse, and some street parking, but it fills up fast, especially on a busy day. Sometimes there are not very many cases in court, but sometimes the docket is heavy and there are nearly a thousand cases in court! We recommend getting to court at least 20 minutes before your case is scheduled, so that you can have enough time to park, walk into the Prince William courthouse and through security, and find your courtroom.

Prince William reckless driving tickets are almost always in the General District Court on the second floor of the courthouse. There are big computer screens between the elevator and the stairs on the second floor that will show you which courtroom your case is in. Your Prince William reckless driving lawyer will tell you whether to wait inside the courtroom or just outside the courtroom in the hallway before your case.

In Prince William County traffic court, the prosecutors and officers meet at about 8:30am to discuss the cases that day. It is usually not possible to work out an agreement with the prosecutor before the day of court, because Prince William prosecutors don’t get assigned their cases until the afternoon before court, and they don’t get to talk to the officers until the morning of court.

The prosecutors and officers walk into their assigned courtrooms in Prince William County General District Court just before 9am. Everybody who has tickets or misdemeanor charges that day have their cases scheduled at 9am, or sometimes a few of them are at 10:30am if the ticket was written by a Virginia State Police officer or an officer on a special squad. The judge comes in at 9am, and the prosecutor asks the judge to call the very few cases that already have an agreement. Then the prosecutor goes out in the hallway, and attorneys line up to talk to the prosecutor about their cases. The judge then begins to call through the cases in court for that day, taking each officer one at a time and going through his or her cases alphabetically by the accused person’s last name. When you have an attorney, the judge will put your case to the side and won’t call your case until your attorney is ready and asks the judge to call it. Your attorney will be with you and you won’t talk to the judge until your lawyer has had a chance to talk to you and tell you what is going to happen.

We encourage you to contact one of our Prince William County reckless driving attorneys at the S&R Law Firm. We would be happy to provide you with a free phone consultation to discuss your options and likely outcomes. We want to empower you with knowledge to make the best decision in your Manassas reckless driving case.

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