Reckless Driving Charges in Loudoun County
In Loudoun County, reckless driving is a serious charge. It is a Class 1 misdemeanor, which is the highest level of misdemeanor. It is also a criminal charge, which means a conviction is permanent and it will have to be reported on job applications. It is more than just a speeding ticket because speeding tickets are traffic infractions and they do not have any effect at all on an individual’s criminal record. They also do not have jail time as a possible punishment. Reckless driving has jail time as a pretty common punishment, especially for drivers driving 30 mph or faster than the speed limit. Anyone facing reckless driving charges should consult with a local Loudoun reckless driving lawyer about defense.
Defining Reckless Driving
In Loudoun County, reckless driving means operating a motor vehicle in any manner that endangers life, limb, or property. The most common type of reckless driving is excessive speeding, which is defined by somebody driving 80 mph or more anywhere in Virginia or 20 mph or more over whatever the posted speed limit is.
As well as excessive speeding reckless driving, there are a variety of other moving violations that could be deemed reckless driving. These include passing a stopped school bus or emergency vehicle with its lights on, driving with faulty brakes, driving too fast for the current weather or road conditions, drag racing, and general reckless driving, which is a catchall category that police officers typically charge when there’s been an accident situation.
Reckless driving penalties include a fine of up to $2,500, jail time of up to 12 months, and a license suspension of up to six months.
Differences From a Speeding Ticket
A speeding ticket is just a traffic infraction, whereas reckless driving is a higher offense. It is a criminal charge. The major difference is that criminal charges are permanent and they have an effect on people for the rest of their life. It is really important to know the difference and whether someone is being charged with a reckless driving charge or just speeding. The best way to tell is for an individual to look at the document that the police officers gave them at the scene to sign and see if it specifies whether they are being charged with reckless driving or speeding.
Appearing in Court
The ticket will have a little box that is either checked or unchecked that says the defendant has the right to waive their court appearance. If the box is checked, and the defendant has a right not to appear in court, then it is a speeding ticket. Because reckless driving has mandatory court appearances, this box will not be checked or the entire section will just be crossed out.
Process of a Reckless Driving Case
The process of a reckless driving case in Loudoun County is pretty much identical to the process of a speeding ticket case. The driver is pulled over in the exact same way and the documents that they sign is almost identical to the speeding ticket one. The court process is exactly the same as well and they are usually in the same room with the people who have been charged with speeding and reckless driving. The only difference is that the charge itself is different; one is criminal and one is an infraction.
Judges are often particularly harsh in Loudoun County on reckless driving. Some judges in the area will issue one day of jail time for every mile per hour over 20 mph that the driver was going.
Importance of Local Counsel
It is important to have local counsel in Loudoun County for reckless driving cases, because these cases are very serious and have pretty dire long-term consequences. A local attorney is in a position to know what is going to be a strong defense for that particular jurisdiction.
Local experience makes a big difference because every jurisdiction is going to prioritize different things, which will have an effect on how to prepare for court. Each judge also is going to have a different opinion on what is relevant and what is more persuasive. A local attorney is in an experienced position to know what those opinions are.
The Role of an Attorney
The role of an attorney is to present reasonable doubt in court as to the individual’s reckless driving. If this is not possible, then the role of the attorney is to argue that, despite the speeding ticket, their client still deserves to have this charge reduced or dismissed due to other factors. These factors are typically things that the attorney has their client do before the actual trial. These things can include driver improvement courses, community service, and getting a speedometer calibrated.