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Virginia reckless driving plea obtained by Fairfax DUI lawyer in DWI case

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Virginia reckless driving- Photo of car headlights

Virginia reckless driving plea with no suspended driving- Anatomy of how a Fairfax DUI lawyer obtained such a result in a DWI case

Virginia reckless driving is of course a better outcome than a conviction for DWI. As a Fairfax DUI lawyer, I know that a reckless driving plea deal sometimes is available against Virginia DWI prosecutions. A bigger cause for celebration — which I obtained recently for a client charged with DWI (amended to reckless) and breath testing refusal (dismissed) — is when such a settlement omits any suspended driving whatsoever, which deviates from the common wet reckless negotiation involving a conviction for reckless driving generally. Virginia wet reckless plea deals usually involve an agreed suspended jail sentence, requirement to complete the VASAP alcohol program, and a suspended jail sentence with six months of suspended driving with the ability to request restricted driving (with the option to request that the only restriction be the ignition interlock device / IID, if VASAP is a part of the sentence).

Always go to your Virginia DUI trial date ready for trial

Obtaining a Virginia reckless driving disposition is not guaranteed in a DUI case, just as no particular plea deal (if any at all) is assured in any criminal prosecution. In addition, a dismissal and acquittal are far preferable to any conviction. Therefore, always go to your trial date ready for trial. To be ready for trial, go to court with a qualified lawyer. (For non-jailable infraction charges, an economic decision might be made to proceed without a lawyer. At minimum, you need to know if your case is a jailable matter or not.)

Why did police stop my client on nothing more than a 911 caller’s tip?

In my above-referenced recent Virginia DUI defense that resulted in a negotiated Virginia reckless driving plea deal, police were called by a restaurant for a patron who was allegedly belligerent and intoxicated, and gave a description of his vehicle together with his license plate / tag number. The police report did not show any other details than that provided by the caller to 911, and the reporting police officer confirmed that he had no other information that formed the basis for stopping my client. He made no independent observation of any driving behavior that provided a Fourth Amendment Constitutional justification to stop my client’s car.

How did Fairfax DUI lawyer obtain a recent Virginia reckless driving settlement with no suspended driving?

In discussing plea negotiations with the prosecutor that resulted in a Virginia reckless driving plea deal, I showed the prosecutor the excellent steps my client made with obtaining a favorable DWI program evaluation, completing a driver improvement class, completing a MADD victim impact panel, and completing several online AA-type meetings. The prosecutor said that he likes seeing such self improvement. I also handed the prosecutor the Supreme Court’s opinion in  Prado Navarette v. California572 U.S. 393 (2014). Prado Navarette concluded that police had reasonable suspicion to stop the suspect’s car based on an anonymous tip that the suspect almost ran the tipper off the road. I explained to the prosecutor that the thin details in the police officer’s hands (belligerent and intoxicated defendant in a restaurant) did not meet the Prado Navarette threshold to permit a stop of his car. On the other hand, were I the prosecutor, I would have argued that the lack of detail in the 911 dispatcher’s details were made up for by the description of my client’s having been intoxicated, whereas Prado Navarette‘s 911 caller was only able to describe his driving behavior of running the caller off the road. My client was not guaranteed suppression by the judge of this police stop, based both on the foregoing considerations, and also on the fact that Prado Navarette is not a quick read, and a judge is not always going to accurately follow a court case s/he does not know well and is only reading for the first time on the bench.

Will the judge accept the proposed plea deal amended from a Virginia DUI charge?

Virginia judges are not bound to accept plea deals between the defense and prosecution. In this instance, the judge asked the prosecutor why suspended driving was omitted from the plea deal, when such a limitation is very common for reckless driving settlements that result from Virginia DUI prosecutions. The prosecutor told the judge about my client’s self improvement success and pointed out his understanding that suspended driving could be adverse to my client’s employment. I piped in about how Prado Navarette supported that this was a bad police stop in the first place. Of course, I could have advocated to the prosecutor to leave his plea offer open until first seeing if the judge would suppress the stop. However, being unsure whether the judge would suppress the stop was an incentive for the prosecutor to have engaged in this plea deal in the first place.

Fairfax DUI lawyer Jonathan Katz pursues your best defense against Virginia DWI and criminal prosecutions. Call 703-383-1100 for a free in-person consultation with Jon Katz about your court-pending case.