Out-of-State Motorist Charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia – Understanding Your Rights

Reckless Driving Defense Attorneys working on a Fairfax County case

If you reside in a state other than Virginia – like Maryland, North Carolina, Delaware, etc. – getting charged with reckless driving can create a myriad of headaches and poses a significant risk to your long-term future. You may be asking yourself, “Why is a reckless driving charge so serious in Virginia? Can’t I just pay the ticket online and be done with it?”

Answer – reckless driving is not a simple traffic infraction. In Virginia, it is categorized as a criminal offense; specifically, a class 1 misdemeanor. This is actually the most serious class of misdemeanors under Virginia law. The potential penalties associated with a reckless driving conviction include: a monetary fine of up to $2,500, a suspension of your driver’s license for up to six months, and actually having to serve time in jail (specifically, up to one year).

Non-Residents Motorists Routinely Targeted by Police

Virginia law enforcement is notorious for targeting non-resident motorists and issuing citations for reckless driving when the motorists pass through the Commonwealth. Interstate 95 goes through Virginia, so it is quite common for police to target motorists who resident in New York, New Jersey, Florida, D.C., and so forth. Why target non-resident motorists? Because most non-residents do not want to spend the time and money traveling back to Virginia to contest a charge. This makes it much easier for law enforcement to secure large fines and adjudicate convictions.

Many times, the judicial process can take 2 days, which forces them to incur the additional expense of a hotel room. They also usually have to miss work, which could result in lost wages during that time. So the ticket-fighting process can get very expensive very quickly. Police know this and often will give out of state motorists speeding tickets knowing they will likely decide not to fight the ticket in court.

Why It Makes Sense to Hire a Reckless Driving Defense Lawyer in Fairfax County, VA

When you are charged with reckless driving, your case will be assigned to a “Commonwealth’s Attorney” who spends the majority of their days in a courtroom trying to convict defendants. You should level the proverbial playing field by hiring a skilled and knowledgeable reckless driving defense attorney.

Defending Against Reckless Driving Charges

It is important not to give up hope if you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia. Remember, the burden is on the government to prove, beyond a reasonable doubt, that you were driving a vehicle recklessly.

If you were charged with violating § 46.2-852 of the Virginia Code, the government must prove that you were:

  1. operating a vehicle;
  2. on a highway; and
  3. recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person.

Let’s examine each element of this statute. First, the government has to show that you were actually operating a vehicle. While this may seem straightforward, there are instances where this may be difficult to prove in court. For example, if you were involved in a single vehicle accident and there were no other witnesses.

The next element is having to prove that you were operating a vehicle on a highway. According to Virginia Code § 46.2-100, a highway is defined as the “entire width between the boundary lines of every way or place open to the use of the public for purposes of vehicular travel.” Basically, this means the government needs to show that you were operating your vehicle on a public road. As a result, it may be possible to contest your charges if you were exclusively on private property when you encountered law enforcement. This is a fairly complex issue and if you think this may be worth contesting in your reckless driving case, you should certainly sit down and speak with a Fairfax County reckless driving defense lawyer.

Finally, the government has to prove you were operating a vehicle on a public road in a manner that endangered life, limb, or property. It may be possible to contest the characterization of your driving as placing you or someone else in imminent peril or endangering life, limb or property.

More commonly, law enforcement will charge you with reckless driving based on operating your vehicle at an excessively high rate of speed. According to the aforementioned § 46.2-862 of the Virginia Code, police can charge you with reckless driving if you were traveling at a speed of 20 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit or in excess of eighty miles per hour, regardless of the maximum speed limit.

Take Action Sooner Rather Than Later

From the moment you are charged with reckless driving, the clock begins to tick. The date for your trial will likely be scheduled and placed on the court’s docket in less than two months. This means even waiting just a few days to retain the services of a skilled Fairfax reckless driving defense lawyer could seriously hinder your defense.

Contact Dua Law Firm’s Reckless Driving Attorneys in Fairfax County Today

As you can see, being proactive after getting charged with reckless driving in Virginia as a non-resident motorist is important. This is why you should contact the skilled and knowledgeable Fairfax County reckless driving defense attorneys with the Dua Law Firm. We offer compassionate and effective legal representation, with a keen understanding of Virginia laws and regulations. Our comprehensive skills make us the right choice to handle your Reckless Driving case. We will work tirelessly to provide the most effective representation possible.

Get in touch with our experienced defense attorneys in Fairfax today! Contact us at (703) 382-7300 to schedule a free, confidential consultation at your earliest convenience.