Most people are shocked to find out that in Virginia they can be convicted of reckless driving with no evidence whatsoever that their driving was actually reckless. Because we have a statutory rule that says any speed above 80 mph or 20 mph or more over the limit counts as reckless driving, this is the basis for the charge. But that doesn’t mean that a person charged with reckless driving will be found guilty — even if they were 100 percent guilty.
Your Driving Record Speaks Volumes for your Character
The key to any reckless driving defense begins with a driving record. If you have a good driving record, that’s the first thing we want to start waving around at the beginning of trial. On the other hand, if the driving record has problems, we want to get a hold of that as soon as possible and see what we’re facing in case the prosecutor has a copy. In some incidents, it may be possible to get a better driving record as opposed to a worse driving record. For example, here in Virginia, a driver can obtain a five-, seven-, or eleven-year driving record. If one of my defendants had a speeding ticket ten years ago, I don’t want the eleven year record; I want the seven year record because that’s the longest driving record with no speeding history.
Calibrate your Speedometer
The second key to success in any reckless driving speeding case is going to be the speedometer. You will want to get your speedometer tested and get a calibration certificate to show if it’s accurate. Many people don’t realize but even right from the factory most car speedometers are off by 1-3 miles per hour, and there is a 50/50 chance that will go in your favor. For our clients who are charged with speeding offenses, the odds are more than 50 percent in their favor because if they knew they were going that fast, they wouldn’t have done it. The calibration certificate is crucial evidence because it is the only way to get another number in that judge’s head.
Reckless Driving Defense Attorney Van Hardenbergh's Advice
One other thing that can be very helpful in a reckless driving case is a driver improvement clinic — what many people call defensive driving school. Beware though because not every judge will give credit for a driver improvement clinic. Also, there are numerous different types of driver improvement clinics. You want to make sure you are investing your time and effort in a clinic that the court will accept.