Richmond Traffic Violations Lawyer
The Virginia Point System
In Virginia, a reckless driving violation is a six (6) point offense and will be on your driving record for 11 years. The same applies to a DUI/DWI (drunk driving) conviction in Virginia as well as a conviction for driving while your operator's license is suspended. Virginia speeding tickets fall into three categories. A reckless driving by speed ticket is a six point violation and stays on your Virginia driving record for eleven (11) years.
A 10-19 mph Virginia speeding ticket is a four point offense and will be on your Virginia driving record for five years. A 1-9 mph Virginia speeding ticket is a three point offense and stays on your Virginia driving record for five years. In Virginia if you accumulate more than 18 points in one year or 24 points in two years the Department of Motor Vehicles will suspend your license.
The Effect of a Virginia Ticket on an Out-of-State Driving Record
Generally speaking, a ticket in Virginia will be treated (in terms of assessing points) in the home state of an out-of-state driver as if the offense occurred in the home state. For example, if you are convicted of driving 9 mph over the speed limit in Virginia that is a three (3) point offense in Virginia.
However, if in your home state the same offense would carry two (2) points, you would normally be assessed two points by the division of motor vehicles in your home state. Please note that this is a general rule and the specific effect of a Virginia traffic conviction should be verified with the division of motor vehicles in your home state and/or a lawyer licensed to practice in your home state. If you have received a ticket in Virginia and are an out-of-state driver, you should contact me for an experienced analysis of your situation.
Virginia Reckless Driving Tickets Attorney
There a number of ways that reckless driving can be charged and/or prosecuted in Virginia. The following are the reckless driving statutes in Virginia:
46.2-852 Reckless Driving - General rule
46.2-853 Reckless Driving - Failure to maintain control - faulty brakes
46.2-854 Reckless Driving - Passing on or at the crest of a grade or curve
46.2-855 Reckless Driving - Driver's view obstructed or control impaired
46.2-856 Reckless Driving - Passing two vehicles abreast
46.2-857 Reckless Driving - Driving two abreast in a single lane
46.2-858 Reckless Driving - Passing at a railroad crossing
46.2-859 Reckless Driving - Passing a stopped school bus
46.2-860 Reckless Driving - Failure to give proper signals
46.2-861 Reckless Driving - Driving too fast on highway for conditions
46.2-862 Reckless Driving - Exceeding speed limit by 20 mph or driving in excess of 80 mph
46.2-863 Reckless Driving - Failure to yield right of way upon entering highway
46.2-864 Reckless Driving- Parking lots
46.2-865 Reckless Driving - Racing
46.2-865.1 Reckless Driving - Causing death or injury to another while racing
46.2-866 Reckless Driving - Racing aiders or abettors
46.2-868.1 Reckless Driving - Aggressive Driving
Reckless Driving - General rule - accident
Reckless driving can be charged as the result of an automobile accident. Law enforcement officers sometimes charge the individual that appears to be at fault in a serious traffic accident with reckless driving even though their driving was not truly reckless. With a skillful advocate on your side, this charge can often be reduced to a lesser included offense or dismissed. The offense that this kind of reckless driving is often reduced to is improper driving. Improper driving (VA Code 46.2 - 869) is merely a traffic infraction and it is not a criminal offense. It is a three point traffic violation for Virginia drivers.
Reckless Driving By Speed
Reckless driving can also be charged as a result of excessive speed i.e., 81 m.p.h. or faster in a 65 or 70 m.p.h speed zone or 20 m.p.h faster than the speed limit in all other speed zones. In Virginia, reckless driving is considered a criminal offense. It is a class one misdemeanor which means it the maximum punishment is 12 months incarceration and/or a $2,500 fine and/or 6 months license suspension.
As a practical matter most people convicted of reckless driving do not go to jail, however, some Judges begin to impose jail time at speeds of 90 m.p.h. or greater. At speeds of 100 m.p.h. or faster jail, time is a virtual guarantee.
Context Is Important With Reckless Driving
The time of day the offense occurred, traffic conditions, weather, number and age of passengers, and the lack of, or, the presence of aggressive driving behavior, all are important factors that can influence the outcome of a reckless driving case. The demeanor of the defendant towards the law enforcement officer also strongly influences the outcome of reckless driving case. If you were polite and cooperative with the officer, that will help your case. If the police testify that you were uncooperative, it will be very difficult to have the charge reduced or dismissed. Whether or not there were passengers in the vehicle and, if so, who those passengers were, is also important. The presence of children as passengers or pedestrians, especially small children, increases the seriousness of the offense. Whether there was any direct endangerment of any other vehicles or pedestrians caused by the driving in question is also important. If the defendant drove in and out of traffic, was weaving or tailgating that increases the seriousness of the charge and decreases the possibility for leniency.
If You Are Charged With Reckless Driving Hire A Lawyer
It is very important to hire a lawyer to represent you if you have been charged with reckless driving in Virginia. A experienced lawyer can help you avoid the potentially harsh consequences of a reckless driving conviction. A good attorney will know which arguments are effective and which arguments are not. They will also have experience negotiating with the prosecutors in the jurisdiction.
In addition, as a practical matter, many Courts will not require the appearance of out of state defendants for a reckless driving ticket if they are represented by a lawyer and have given that attorney a copy of their driving record. However, if the alleged speed is 90 m.p.h. or faster, then usually, you should appear in court. If there is the possibility of jail time, and the defendant does not appear in court, judges will sometimes issue a bench warrant and an additional failure to appear charge. A good rule of thumb to determine if the appearance of the defendant is necessary is whether the case is initially placed on the court's arraignment docket.
If there is any chance that your speedometer is not reading accurately, get it calibrated by a licensed mechanic. If it is reading slower than the vehicle is actually traveling that can be an important factor in your case. Make sure that the calibration certificate is notarized so that it will be admissible evidence in court.
What about Driving School?
Judges sometimes refer defendants to driving school and will either dismiss the charge or reduce it upon completion. Generally speaking, the person charged must have a perfect or near perfect driving record, never been to driving school before or within the last five years, and the alleged offense cannot be too aggravated or egregious. If you have more than one or two traffic violations on your record and/or are alleged to traveling faster than 90 m.p.h., in most jurisdictions you are probably not going to be referred to driving school. It is best to contact an attorney before enrolling in driving school prior to your court date because policies in reference to driving school vary from court to court.
Does Driving School Have to be taken in VA?
No. Most Judges will accept any driving school accredited by AAA or The National Safety Council or your state's DMV. For Virginia drivers the voluntary completion of driver improvement course results in five positive points being added to their driving record. In addition, many judges will accept on-line courses.
Highway Safety Corridor Violations
Virginia Highway Safety Corridors are portions of Virginia's interstates designated by the Virginia Department of Transportation or VDOT for enhanced enforcement of traffic infractions. Customary fines for traffic offenses in these zones are doubled. In addition, the maximum fines for non-criminal traffic offenses such as speeding are increased from $250 to $500, and minimum fines of $200 are imposed for criminal traffic offenses such as reckless driving.
For commercial drivers a speeding or reckless driving ticket is more than just an annoyance, it threatens their livelihood. Many of my clients are commercial truck drivers and I understand the importance of maintaining a clear record and keeping a commercial driver's license active. Commercial Driver's that are charged with speeding or reckless driving while driving either a commercial motor vehicle or their own personal vehicle cannot be referred to driving school. A victory in these types of cases is a dismissal or a reduction to a non-moving violation or a non-criminal offense.
Under VA Code 46.2-341.18, a conviction for a DUI or Refusal will result in an automatic one year disqualification of a CDL. Under VA Code section 46.2-341.20, two convictions of any combination of Reckless Driving, Following Too Closely, Improper Lane Change or Speeding 15 over within a three year period will result in a 60 day CDL disqualification even if the CDL holder was driving a non-commercial vehicle at the time of the offense. Three convictions for the aforementioned violations within a three year period will result in a 120 day disqualification. If you are a CDL holder it is very important that you hire an attorney experienced with representing CDL drivers. A large part of my practice is focused on representing CDL holders charged with traffic offenses in the Richmond, VA and central Virginia areas.
Driving with a Suspended License
If you have been charged with driving on a suspended or revoked operator's license it is very important to have an attorney represent you. Most Judges will impose jail time for a second offense and a third offense has a mandatory minimum ten day jail sentence. Sometimes this charge can be amended as the result of plea agreement or by the Judge to VA Code 46.2-300 - No Valid Operators License (a 3 point class 2 misdemeanor) or VA Code 46.2-104 - No License in Possession (a 0 point non-moving violation). These amendments can help prevent additional license suspension or active jail time.
I represent individuals charged with driving after being determined to be a habitual offender. If you are a habitual offender and have not been convicted of any traffic infractions for three to five or more years I can petition the court to have your operator's license reinstated or a restricted permit issued.
The Advantages of Local Representation?
Working as a public defender and in private practice representing thousands of individuals charged with traffic violations has given me insight into how the courts adjudicate traffic offenses. Many of my out-of-state clients just passing through Virginia are not aware that some common traffic violations are criminal offenses. It is essential that any traffic violation be addressed in a timely and professional manner. If your license is in danger of being revoked, contacting an attorney immediately presents you with the best opportunity to safeguard your license.
I represent people charged with offenses in Richmond Virginia and the surrounding areas including the cities of Southside and Central Virginia including the City of Petersburg, the City of Hopewell, the City of Colonial Heights, and Chesterfield County, Henrico County, Dinwiddie County, Hanover County, Goochland County, New Kent County, Caroline County, and Prince George County. I often provide legal advice to those living outside the state who have received a violation on a Virginia roadway. I appear in court on their behalf and defend them against the alleged offense(s) they are charged with.
I have extensive experience representing individuals charged with traffic violations. I am familiar with local courts and know what clients can expect in different jurisdictions. I can help you avoid the serious consequences that can potentially accompany a conviction for a traffic infraction in the Commonwealth of Virginia.
The Right of Appeal
In Virginia, you have the right to appeal your case, if it is a misdemeanor, to the Circuit Court after it has been adjudicated in the General District Court. This is an automatic right and your request for an appeal will always be granted if you have notified in writing the General District Court of your desire to appeal the case within ten (10) days after it has concluded. The appeal will result in a trial de novo i.e., a brand new trial in the Circuit Court. There is the right to a trial by jury on appeal and the possibility of getting a result that is better or worse than the result of the original hearing. In many jurisdictions, the prosecutor does not get involved with traffic violations , but if there is an appeal, they usually do get involved. This is strategically useful for a defendant because it opens up the possibility of negotiating a plea bargain with the prosecutor. Plea agreements are beneficial to the accused because there is always risk involved with a trial and an agreement usually eliminates most of that risk.
A Petition for a Rehearing
If a petition for a rehearing is filed with a General District Court within 60 days of the trial date. The Judge has discretion to grant a rehearing and to retry the case. Please note that ,unlike an appeal, this is not an automatic right but merely a possibility that is utilized under extraordinary circumstances.
If you are charged with a traffic violation, contact an experienced traffic attorney who will fight for you. Call Standish Alexander at 804-355-0016. Alternatively, you can e-mail for a free case evaluation. A conviction is Not inevitable!