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Defending Reckless Driving in Virginia

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Following is an out-of-state trial lawyers’ listserv message by me that gives a good overview for defending reckless driving in Virginia:

For jailable offenses, I think a pro se defendant has a fool for a client. Nevertheless, plenty of defendants show up pro se for reckless charges; possibly some do not realize in advance that reckless is jailable up to a year and can suspend driving privileges up to six months.

Here are my brief thoughts on this case:

– The prosecutors in Fairfax County are not likely to offer a plea to less than reckless for speed at 84 in 55.

– In addition to the defendant doing the reckless and aggressive driving course, it’s a good idea to get his speedometer checked; if the speedometer needle incorrectly indicates the driver is going slower than the actual speed, that goes to intent for this specific intent criminal charge. M&M in Fairfax is a reliable company for doing the speedometer check: 703-591-9601.

– For the trial date, a qualified lawyer will be able to assess the chances of winning a trial (e.g., whether the police officer is present and has the necessary, current and admissible calibration information on the speedometer/laser/radar, and whether the cop’s speedometer pace was sufficient and reliable and for a sufficient distance).

– If the chances of winning at trial are minute, sometimes it’s better to plead guilty without a plea agreement, and to argue for the judge to exercise statu to ry judicial authority to reduce the charges to the non-jailable improper driving charge (in some jurisdictions, the judge might reduce the charge to non-jailable speeding). In the event of a reckless conviction, a qualified lawyer will work for the most favorable sentence, the shortest suspension period, the most favorable restricted license provisions, and the lowest possible fine.

– For sentencing and arguing to reduce the charges, it can help if the traffic was a light as possible and if the defendant had limited experience in the particular stretch of highway.