As you probably know by now, Reckless Driving is a Class I Misdemeanor in Virginia. If you are convicted, you face possible jail time and license suspension. You have several choices on how to proceed with your case:
Just pay your ticket
We do not recommend this option, because you will have a permanent criminal record, which can affect your credit, insurance costs, and current and future employment, among other things.
This is not a good option either, because judges have heard thousands of traffic cases, and every excuse and sob story there is. They do not care whether you were “going downhill,” “just trying to pass a tractor trailer,” or “speeding because you had to pee really bad.” They also do not care if a conviction would result in losing your job or license. Do not try to argue that the officer’s radar gun was not calibrated correctly—the judge will not buy that excuse either.
Hire the wrong lawyer to represent you in court
Hiring a lawyer is better than the first two options, but hiring the wrong lawyer is a mistake that people frequently make. For Reckless Driving and DUI in Virginia, you need a traffic specialist to defend you, someone with the knowledge, skill, and experience to present your case to the judge.
You will be found guilty in absentia, and the verdict cannot be expunged. You face the same consequences as if you just paid the ticket. If you were clocked at 90 mph (a cut-off point for some judges) or above, the court may issue a capias, a type of warrant. The next time you are pulled over you will be arrested on the spot—no matter where you are driving.
In Virginia, you have 10 days in which to appeal the verdict if you are convicted, although the procedures for filing an appeal vary among jurisdictions.
If you hire Team Hardenbergh . . .
You likely won’t have to appear in court (although requirements vary among jurisdictions). In fact, we do not want you to be there, because in Virginia a judge cannot issue a jail sentence unless the defendant is present. If your court date is approaching, your case manager will ask the court for a continuance to give us time to gather evidence for your case.
Here is a list of evidence to consider:
Your Driving Record
The first thing you should do is contact your state DMV and get a certified copy of your driving record. It is the first document the judge will want to see. In you are licensed in Virginia, you can get a five-, seven-, or 11-year record; choose the one with the least number of speeding offenses. Out-of-state drivers should obtain the longest driving record they can get without any offenses on it. A good (clean) record is the best defense, while a bad record may increase the penalties imposed. However, there are things that we can do to mitigate a bad driving record.
Here’s a little secret that the police don’t want you to know: Speedometers are not usually accurate. Most cars come off the showroom floor with a variance of one to three miles per hour. Over time, wear and tear on the speedometer mechanism can further reduce the accuracy. We always recommend having the speedometer calibrated if possible to do so, even if you were driving a rental car. We have a list of shops across the country that can help you obtain a notarized calibration certificate, which is required for court.
Driver Improvement Clinic Certificate
Completing a clinic is an opportunity to obtain “good” points on your driving record and show the judge that you are taking the charge against you seriously. We can recommend the best clinic for you to take, depending on your speed, driving record, jurisdiction, and court preference.
If you were traveling with passengers, they can testify (or send a notarized letter to the court) that you were driving safely and at no time did they feel they were in danger.
Community Service Documentation
Judges like to issue punishment that gives you a chance to reflect on your wrongdoing. Community service is an opportunity for the “offender” to pay back society for the risk imposed by speeding. We can provide you with a list of community service organizations that are acceptable to the court.
Those are just some of the tools we use to help our clients win in court. We know you have questions, and we are standing by to help you. Call us today at (804) 835-5127.