Reckless Driving Lawyer Roanoke VA
Reckless Driving Lawyer Roanoke VA
As a reckless driving lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia, I go to court nearly ever day to handle reckless driving cases for drivers throughout Southwest Virginia.
The far majority of cases involve out of state drivers driving through Virginia on Interstate 81, Interstate 64, or Interstate 77, who have been cited for traveling in excess of the speed limit and above 80 mph.
If you have been charged with reckless driving, the first thing you have to know is that it’s not just a traffic ticket. Reckless driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor. It carries a potential penalty up to 12 months in jail, a fine up to $2,500, and a suspension. It also comes as a surprise to many that in Virginia, reckless driving is not a prepayable offense. You will likely have to go to court – or allow an attorney to attend on your behalf.
There are several common types of reckless driving charges:
(1) General Reckless Driving
Virginia Code § 46.2-852 states:
Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.
Under the general reckless driving statute, you can be cited for reckless driving if the officer determines that you operated your vehicle in a way that endangered other motorists on the road, such as an accident.
A person may be considered to be driving “recklessly” if they’re zig-zaging on the road (Sayler v. Commonwealth); overtaking a hill at a high rate of speed (Noland v. Commonwealth); driving in the wrong lane (Krizak v. W.C. Brooks & Sons); falling asleep while driving (Kennedy v. Commonwealth); or driving in a manner posing a “likelihood of injury to others” on the road (Mayo v. Commonwealth).
An important note: not every accident is reckless driving (Powers v. Commonwealth). The government must prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant was operating their vehicle in a manner prior to the crash that was aggressive, dangerous, or otherwise posed an unreasonable risk of injury.
Virginia officers might charge an individual with reckless driving after an accident – only for the judge to reduce it to the simple traffic infraction when the case is heard in court. It is imperative to gather all the facts about the traffic stop before going to court to work for a reduction or dismissal.
(2) Reckless Driving By Speed
Virginia Code § 46.2-862 states:
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
You can be charged with reckless driving for driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit. You can also be charged for driving faster than 80 mph.
Many highways have a speed limit of 70 mph, including Interstate 81 near Roanoke and Salem. That means you can be charged with a misdemeanor crime – reckless driving – for driving 10 mph over the highway’s speed limit.
When you fight a reckless driving by speed citation, there are two approaches. First, you can present evidence in contradiction, i.e. you attack the government’s case. You can show the officer’s radar gun was not calibrated. You can argue that the officer mistakenly stopped your vehicle, when it was another car on the road that caught his radar beam. This goes directly to reasonably doubt. If the government cannot prove speeding above 80 mph beyond a reasonable doubt, the case must be dismissed.
Second, you can present evidence in mitigation, i.e. you minimize the consequences of a conviction. The second approach is often more likely to succeed based on experience. The officer usually has a correctly calibrated radar gun. The government can usually prove speeding But you can still fight the charge! Evidence in mitigation seeks to reduce or dismiss the charge based on the surrounding circumstances – speeding due to an emergency; speeding to avoid an accident or a tractor trailer on your bumper; impeccable driving history; a speedometer calibration; and other mitigating evidence to seek a reduction or dismissal of the charge.
As a reckless driving lawyer, I can review your case and develop a plan of action.
Fight Reckless Driving in Roanoke
As a reckless driving lawyer in Roanoke, Virginia, with experience handing these types of cases throughout Southwest Virginia, I can help you reduce, or even dismiss, your reckless driving charge depending on the following factors:
- Driving Record
- Emergency Circumstances
- Speedometer Accuracy
- Radar Calibration
- Laser Calibration
- Legality of Traffic Stop
Before you go to court, we can order a certified copy of your driving record, enroll you in a drivers’ improvement course, calibrate your speedometer, and contact the prosecutor to consider a reduction or dismissal of the charge prior to trial. Call for a free consultation: (540) 585-1776.