The number of reckless driving incidents increases in the United States year after year.
However, a question that arises is whether drivers have become more reckless, or the authorities have simply started cracking down on these offenses to a greater extent.
To be sure, not every reckless driving charge stands on solid legal ground. If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, there are numerous steps you can take to try to escape liability.
Read on as we examine the five key actions you should take after a reckless driving charge.
1. Consider What You’re Facing
The first thing you should do in a reckless driving case (or any criminal matter) is to consider the penalties you could be facing. This will inform the tactics you should adopt going forward.
Unfortunately, reckless driving is not the same thing as a speeding ticket. To hand down a charge of reckless driving, a police officer will have to suspect you of a more advanced infringement of the rules of the road.
Reckless driving is a misdemeanor rather than a felony. However, the penalties involved can still be quite serious.
In Virginia, penalties range from a fine of up to $2,500 to a year behind bars. You will also probably face a certain period off the road. The severity of your sentence will depend on the extent of the infraction, for example, the speed you were going.
2. Try to Bargain Your Way to a Less Serious Offense
Because reckless driving can carry such severe penalties, it’s always a good idea to try to reduce your offense to a crime of a lesser category.
In Virginia, lesser driving offenses include Improper Driving and Failure to Pay Full Time and Attention. The main advantage of a finding like one of these is that you will not have a criminal record.
3. Consider Every Angle
The problem with reckless driving is that, in many cases, it’s quite clear cut.
This is particularly true of speeding. Either you were driving over the speed limit in a given area, or you were not.
However, there may be certain excusing circumstances under which a court might acquit you. In most cases, you’ll require a good attorney to persuade a court that these circumstances are sufficient to warrant abandonment of the trial.
We’ve listed some of the most common here.
Under certain circumstances, you may be able to argue that you were driving recklessly in order to prevent some greater harm from occurring. If, for example, you had a sick relative who urgently needed medical attention, this might be enough to secure an acquittal.
Improper Equipment Usage
If you were caught speeding, a police officer will have used a speed gun to record the offense. If you can prove that this equipment was faulty, or that the officer used it improperly, you might be able to escape a conviction.
If you can prove that some external factor caused you to drive dangerously, that might be sufficient to excuse liability. For example, an animal might have run across the road in front of your vehicle, causing you to swerve.
4. Stay Out of Trouble
You won’t always be able to avoid a reckless driving conviction. If it’s a black-and-white situation, the judge will have no option but to hand down a sentence.
However, judges retain a lot of discretion when it comes to what that sentence should be specifically. The best way to convince them to be lenient is to show them that you’re an asset to society, not a liability.
With this in mind, keep well away from all criminal activity between the time you’re charged and your court date.
As well as this, you should make sure to turn up to your court hearing well-dressed and in plenty of time.
It might also be a good idea to voluntarily attend a driving class in the lead-up to your trial. This will display to the court that you see the error in what you did and that you’re serious about returning to the road as a more careful and competent driver.
5. Hire a Good Lawyer
When you stand accused of any offense, you’ll always have the option to put forward your own defense. However, this is almost always a mistake.
If you’re going to avoid liability in a reckless driving charge, you’ll need someone who knows the law. There might well be an obvious flaw in the prosecution’s case, but one that you’d never notice unless you were a legal expert.
In short, without a lawyer, you’re almost certain to suffer the worst possible result in court.
However, it’s not enough to hire just any lawyer. The best legal representatives have to be great at research, quick on their feet, and, above all, highly experienced in the specific area of law that brought you before the court.
If you choose to enlist the help of Mark Nicewicz in response to a reckless driving charge, you’ll be getting a Fairfax criminal attorney who has helped hundreds of clients with driving offenses. Reckless driving is one of his main practice areas, so you can be sure that the help and advice you receive is coming from an expert.
Leaving Your Reckless Driving Charge Behind
Everyone makes mistakes on the road from time to time. However, if one of these mistakes leaves you with a reckless driving conviction, the consequences could be severe.
However, by adopting the approach set out in the five steps above, you’ll be doing everything in your power to see that that doesn’t happen.
If you’d like to learn more about how we can represent you in a reckless driving case, contact us today.
Areas of Practice
- Criminal Law
- Traffic Violations
- Reckless Driving
- Felonies and Misdemeanors
- Virginia, 1985
- District of Columbia, 1987
- U.S. District Court Eastern District of Virginia, 1985
- U.S. District Court of the District of Columbia, 1987
- U.S. Court of Appeals 4th Circuit, 1985
- U.S. Court of Appeals District of Columbia Circuit
- U.S. Court of Federal Claims
- University of Virginia School of Law, Charlottesville, Virginia
- J.D. - 1985
- Marquette University, Milwaukee, Wisconsin
- B.A. magna cum laude - 1982
- Honors: Phi Beta Kappa
- Major: Economics & Philosophy