Reckless Driving charges require credible evidence to support a conviction. As with any misdemeanor criminal charge, the government needs to prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. Evidence to support the prosecution's claim of reckless driving will depend on the ability of the prosecution to produce witnesses. Witnesses routinely make mistakes during their testimony or exaggerate their observations of driving conduct. Documents used to support the prosecution's case may be out of date or executed improperly. It is important that your lawyer be prepared to challenge this evidence in court to achieve the best outcome, including dismissal or reduction to a traffic infraction (a non-criminal offense). Below we have listed a few methods that traffic attorneys commonly use when attempting to mitigate penalties in Virginia traffic court.
Questioning Witness Testimony
If the prosecution's case against you depends largely on the testimony of eyewitnesses you will need an experienced traffic attorney to call into question some elements of their stories. When multiple witnesses are called to testify in your case, their stories may conflict as people tend to remember things differently. Witnesses involved in an accident may have bias against the defendant if there was property damage or personal injury involved in an accident. Your attorney should look for opportunities to build doubt in each witness's account of the events surrounding your charge.
Location of the Alleged Offense
The Officer must testify that the alleged offense occurred in the county in which you are charged. This means the Officer needs to remember to state a specific highway and location in the county. If the officer forgets to include this in their testimony, an experienced lawyer will object at the conclusion of the prosecution's case with a Motion to Strike the Evidence. The judge may grant this Motion and dismiss the case. Mistakes like this do occur during the trial process.
Prosecutors in Fairfax County are currently not involved in prosecution of traffic matters, except DUI arrests. This policy change makes mistakes in officer testimony more common at trial. The officer may forget to include crucial testimony in his or her presentation to the judge. A Commonwealth Attorney (prosecutor) in Fairfax County won't be present at trial to correct the error.
Accuracy of Speedometer
If your automobile has not had a diagnostic check done recently, or is an older model, the speedometer may not function properly. It may provide an inaccurate reading at the speed you are alleged to have been traveling. You will need to have your speedometer checked by a licensed mechanic at the speed you are charged with driving to ensure that the speedometer output is accurate. Contact a local garage or dealership that has a dynamometer. They will perform a check at speed intervals such as 45, 55, 65, 75, etc and state the performance of your speedometer. They can provide a notarized statement of any discrepancy between the speed of the vehicle and the reading on your speedometer. There is a statute in Virginia, §46.2-942, that allows this document to be used in court for purposes of guilt or innocence and punishment. If your speedometer produces an inaccurate reading, you may be able to have your charges dropped or reduced to a traffic infraction with the help of a skilled traffic attorney. Attorney Yeargan has been successful in reducing Reckless Driving charges to Defective Equipment (a non-moving violation with no points) in these circumstances.
Establishing the Identity of the Driver
A large burden placed on the prosecution will be in proving, without a reasonable doubt, that you were in fact driving the vehicle when it was observed driving recklessly. If the prosecution is unable to prove the identity of the person driving the vehicle, the charges may be thrown out. The prosecution must prove that the reckless actions that caused the charges to be brought cannot be attributed to another individual in your automobile, or another nearby driver.
In the Case of an Emergency
If your reckless driving was caused as a result of responding to a legitimate emergency, such as a medical or life-threatening event, your reckless driving may be justified and your charges could potentially be dropped. The legal system does make exceptions when speeding is necessary to save a life, however, what you deem an emergency may not satisfy a court of law.
Speeding or Reckless Charges Based on Radar
If your reckless driving charge is based on a reading obtained from a police radar gun or laser device (LIDAR), the device is required to be calibrated every six months. If the device used to determine you were speeding has not been calibrated recently, or the officer using the device has not maintained the necessary records that the device has been calibrated, you charges may be illegitimate and could be dropped.
Speeding or Reckless Driving Charges Based on Pacing
“Pacing” is the practice of a police officer determining a vehicle's speed by driving behind it and keeping pace, then reading the speedometer of their own vehicle to determine the suspect's speed. Using this method to determine speed in a reckless driving case is fraught with a number of weaknesses. Traffic levels, road obstacles, and environmental factors can greatly affect the ability of pacing to generate an accurate estimate of your speed. Officers may have sped up to the suspected vehicle to measure the paced speed. Also, if a police officer's speedometer has not been calibrated recently, the reading may also be inaccurate. Attorney Yeargan carefully examines any speedometer calibrations of the officer's vehicle to challenge the reading.
Contact A Professional Traffic Attorney - Experienced Counsel for Fairfax County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, the City of Alexandria, Arlington County, Stafford County, and other Locations in Virginia
If you or someone you know is looking to generate a strong defense against a reckless driving charge in Virginia, you will need a skilled traffic attorney. Attorney Wilfred Yeargan has 21 years of experience formulating effective defenses against reckless driving charges. Contact the Fairfax, Virginia law office for assistance with traffic charges. Attorney Yeargan will fight to have your charges dismissed or reduced to a traffic infraction. Reach out today by phone or online for a free initial consultation.