Attorney Yeargan regularly appears in Virginia courts to help clients charged with a Summons or traffic ticket of misdemeanor Reckless Driving. He has 22 years of experience in Virginia traffic and criminal courts and is devoted to obtaining the best results for his clients. The goal in defending these cases is dismissal or reduction of the Reckless Driving charge to a non-criminal traffic infraction. This protects the client's criminal record, driving record, insurance rates, employment opportunities, security clearances, and immigration status.
The charge of Reckless Driving is a Class One Misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum of 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $2,500.00. The driver's license privilege may be suspended for up to six months. The courts may grant a restricted license to someone convicted of a Reckless Driving charge. This restricted license allows the client to drive for work, school, the Alcohol Safety Action Program if applicable, church activities and child care. Most people do not receive active jail time or even a license suspension upon conviction. However, even a small fine on a Reckless Driving conviction can affect a person's life for many years, leading to loss of employment and other opportunities.
Many people contact this office each month worried about the effect of a Reckless Driving conviction that occurred years ago. They did not address the ticket when charged and did not have an attorney for their case. The conviction was entered by the judge and it is still on their driving record and/or criminal record. There is often very little to nothing that can be done to undo the conviction in these circumstances. That is why it is important to prepare and have an attorney while your case is still pending! There is much a qualified lawyer can do to help get the charges dismissed or reduced to a non-criminal offense.
Dismissal or Reduction of Reckless Driving Penalties - What Result Can You Get in Court?
Attorney Yeargan often obtains dismissal or reduction of a client's Reckless Driving ticket to a traffic infraction. Traffic Infractions are not criminal offenses. They do not go on your criminal record and carry no license suspension by the court. Results in court depend on the facts of the traffic stop and a client's driving record. The vast majority of the Reckless Driving cases defended by the law firm result in outcomes that are dismissals or non-criminal convictions.
One of the first alternatives to Reckless Driving that good traffic lawyers consider when handling a case is the infraction of Improper Driving. §46.2-869 of the Virginia Code allows a charge of Reckless Driving to be reduced to the traffic infraction of Improper Driving, “where the degree of culpability is slight.” A prosecutor (Commonwealth Attorney) may reduce the charge to Improper Driving by plea agreement with the Defendant. A judge also retains the power under that Code Section to reduce the charge to Improper Driving after a full trial on the merits of the case. Improper Driving is punishable by a fine of up to $500.00 (no license suspension or jail time). It is a non-criminal offense and carries three points with the DMV.
Attorney Yeargan has achieved dismissal or reduction of the Reckless Driving charge to county code violations that do not go on the driving record. Failure to Pay Full Time and Attention is an example of this county code. Reductions to this offense are helpful because the insurance company for the driver is not notified of the conviction (your rates won't go up!). There are no points assessed for this conviction. The County Code provision in Fairfax County is 82-4-24.
Other types of offenses that the misdemeanor can be reduced to include non-moving violations like Defective Equipment. Defective Equipment is a traffic infraction that carries a fine of up to $250. There are no points assessed for this conviction. However, it does go on the driving record.
Reductions to Failure to Obey a Highway Sign under Virginia Code §46.2-830 are three point demerit convictions in Virginia. The court may only impose a fine for this traffic infraction. The offense falls off a Virginia driving record after three years.
Reckless Driving cases may also be reduced to Speeding, a traffic infraction. A conviction for this charge carries three points for Speeding 1-9 over the limit, four points for Speeding 10-19 over the limit, and six points for Speeding 20 miles or more over the limit. The maximum fine is up to $250.
In some cases, Prince William County (Manassas area) and other jurisdictions allow clients to attend driving school for complete dismissal of the Reckless Driving charge, with payment of court costs. The law office has helped many clients achieve this result and avoid any conviction being reported to the DMV. In these cases, the client avoids additional fines and points on the driving record.
In high-speed Reckless Driving cases approaching 100 mph, the law office has negotiated reductions of the charge to Speeding in a Work Zone under Virginia Code section Virginia Code §46.2-878.1. This is a traffic infraction that carries a maximum fine of $500.00. The court may not impose a license suspension or jail sentence. The agreements usually include completion of community service hours. The law office encourages clients charged with high speed Reckless Driving cases to complete community service hours before court and get a letter from the non-profit entity certifying the hours performed. Contact a lawyer well before court to determine if it is appropriate in your case!
The attorney makes an agreement by speaking with the officer or prosecutor to discuss the case before it is heard by the judge. The lawyer presents mitigating evidence to the officer or prosecutor such as driver improvement course completion, proof of excellent driving record, and speedometer calibrations. An agreement is then made between the government and defendant that may be entered with the judge. If an agreement cannot be made, the attorney will discuss options with the client such as a continuance or a plea of not guilty and trial of the case.
Virginia Reckless Driving Penalties
If convicted of Reckless Driving, six points are deducted as a demerit on the Defendant's driving record. The traffic infraction of Improper Driving carries a maximum fine of up to $500, with no potential for jail time or license suspension. A six point demerit can cause insurance rates to increase considerably, and may hinder the acquisition of security clearances and employment. A Reckless Driving conviction also stays on the Defendant's Virginia driving record for eleven (11) years. Convictions for the traffic infraction of Improper Driving stay on the Virginia driving record for only three years and it is a three point demerit. Please see the website Guide to Virginia DMV point System.
Please note that a Reckless Driving conviction stays on a criminal record permanently and may not be removed. If the Reckless Driving charge is amended to Improper Driving or any other traffic infraction, the conviction is not reported on your criminal record.
Reckless Driving by Speed (20 mph over the limit or over 85 mph) - Prepare for Your Case Before Court
Reckless Driving by Speed is charged when the driver is traveling 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit or over 85 mph. In Reckless Driving by Speed cases charged under Virginia Code §46.2-862, Attorney Yeargan recommends that the client obtain a speedometer calibration of his or her speedometer before court. Virginia Code §46.2-942 allows a notarized speedometer calibration to come into evidence to be considered both for guilt or innocence and for fixing punishment. A speedometer calibration is done by testing the accuracy of the vehicle's speed display with a device called a dynamometer. This can be useful as mitigating evidence if the speedometer shows a false reading, leading the driver to rely on a lower display. The prosecutor and/or judge may consider this when making a determination to reduce or dismiss the case. The law office encourages clients to take their vehicle to Advanced Automotive or M&M Collision in the Fairfax County area or to any reputable shop that knows how to use a dynamometer and will provide the notarized statement needed for court.
Drivers in Virginia start off with a zero point balance when they get a new license. The Virginia DMV awards one point each year that the driver does not get a conviction (awarded in early April of each year). Plus five points (+5) is the best point balance that a driver can have in Virginia. This type of driving record is a very positive factor that a prosecutor or judge may consider when making a decision about the case.
If the client has any convictions on their driving record, he or she may also consider completing a driver improvement course before the court date. This can be done voluntarily once every two years and it adds five positive points to the person's point balance with the Division of Motor Vehicles. It can be done online or in person in Virginia. Those with a negative DMV point balance may want to explore this option to improve their driving record before court. Ask a lawyer if it is appropriate in your specific set of circumstances.
The attorney advises all clients to get a current copy of their driving record from the Division of Motor Vehicles after they complete the driver improvement course. The course completion will then be shown on the record and the plus five points added to their official point balance. A Virginia driving record may be ordered at the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles website.
Common Areas for Reckless Driving Charges in Virginia
There are 1,118 miles of Interstate Highways in Virginia. State Troopers in Virginia regularly charge Reckless Driving on the following highways and roads in Virginia: Interstate 95, Interstate 64, Interstate 66, Route 7 leading to Leesburg, Dulles Greenway, Interstate 81, 495 "the Beltway", Interstate 395, Route 50, Route 610/Garrisonville Road in Stafford, Route 1, Route 3 in Fredericksburg, Route 17 leading to Warrenton, and Route 28. National Park Police patrol such highways as Skyline Drive and George Washington Memorial Parkway. County and City police also patrol the local roads in each locality, such as the Fairfax County Parkway (Route 286).
A Reckless Driving Summons may be issued for a variety of facts, including excessive speeding, accident cases caused by faulty brakes or equipment, passing a school bus, failure to yield to an emergency vehicle, driving with an obstructed view, passing at a railway crossing, and racing.
In Reckless Driving accident cases charged under Virginia Code §46.2-852, it is important that the client be aware that a plea of guilty may be used against them in a later civil lawsuit for personal injury. It is especially important in these cases to retain an attorney with experience in the civil ramifications of traffic accidents. Attorney Yeargan will often plead not guilty and try the case with the judge or devise creative resolutions to the charge to avoid a harmful plea of guilty on the court record. This helps the client if he or she is later sued for monetary damages related to the car crash.
In Virginia, the police use radar, lidar (a laser system), and/or pace to determine the speed of a driver. Virginia law requires that the police calibrate the laser and radar equipment used to determine speed of the accused and present an original or "true copy" of the calibration certificate in court. The law requires that officer calibrations be dated within six months of the date of the stop and be properly executed under Virginia Code §46.2-882. Attorney Yeargan assists clients with challenging the accuracy and proper use of this equipment by State Troopers and County Police. Improper/Defective calibrations or certificates presented in court may result in charges being dismissed for lack of proof by the arresting officer.
Benefits of Working With an Experienced Professional
Attorney Yeargan has handled well over a thousand Reckless Driving tickets in the state of Virginia. His 21 years of experience give him unique insight into the prosecutors and judges that handle these charges in Northern Virginia. He has developed an excellent working relationship with the Court system and will protect your driving record. He can explore the facts of your case and determine if dismissal or reduction of the charge to a traffic infraction of the charge is possible. His law firm is regularly consulted on high speed cases over 100 miles per hour, where the potential for jail time increases significantly. A high percentage of the tickets handled by Attorney Yeargan have been dismissed or reduced to Improper Driving, Speeding, Defective Equipment, or a County Code charge of Failure to Pay Full Time and Attention (which is not reported as a conviction to the Division of Motor Vehicles).
Attorney Yeargan often appears in court on the charge without the client having to attend court. In some cases, the client can sign an Authorization Form allowing the lawyer to appear in court on their behalf to negotiate a good outcome. When you call the office, request that the lawyer draft this document if you can't take off work to attend the court hearing.
Beginning July, 2020, the prosecutors (Commonwealth Attorneys) in Fairfax County and Arlington County did not get involved in misdemeanor traffic charges, except DUI offenses. It became necessary to negotiate directly with the officer involved and try to present a resolution to the judge for possible approval. This included Reckless Driving tickets. The law office has been monitoring the Fairfax County policy to detect any change in the position of the Commonwealth Attorney. In a telephone conversation with that office on July 7th, the law office was informed that the policy in Fairfax County is changing effective July 12, 2021. The prosecutors will resume handling those offenses and it will be possible to negotiate dismissal or reduction of the charge before it is heard by the judge.
In most counties, such as Prince William, the prosecutors remain involved in traffic matters. This development means that agreements to dismiss or reduce the charges in some jurisdictions will be by agreement with the officer and defendant. The judge must approve of the outcome. Attorney Yeargan works directly with the county officer or State Trooper involved in the case to achieve dismissal or reduction of the charge to a traffic infraction. The attorneys reputation and positive working relationships with police officers help clients obtain excellent outcomes.
The changes in policy in Fairfax County and other jurisdictions make it even more important to be prepared and have competent representation in court. Your court outcome may come down to persuasive advocacy by the lawyer handling the case.
Contact a Fairfax Traffic Defense Lawyer Today - Experienced Representation in Fairfax County, Prince William County, and other locations in Virginia
For more advice on the charge of Reckless Driving, please call or send an online message to speak directly with Attorney Yeargan. He can help you evaluate the facts and develop a strategy for possible reduction or dismissal of the case. With over twenty-two years of trial experience in Fairfax County, Prince William County (including Woodbridge, Quantico, Haymarket, Manassas, Manassas Park), the City of Alexandria, Loudoun County, Arlington County, Stafford County, Caroline County, Warren County, Greensville County, the City of Richmond/Henrico area, and other locations in Virginia, Attorney Yeargan can help you effectively prepare your case for court.