In Virginia, reckless driving by speed refers to the charge of driving 80 miles per hour or more anywhere in Virginia, or 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit. Reckless driving by speed is the exact same level of reckless driving as all of the other types of reckless driving in Manassas. They’re the exact same in the eyes of the law, and being charged with one type is not going to be better than another. All kinds of reckless driving are class 1 misdemeanor and punishable with the same penalties.
To be able to tell if you’re being charged with reckless driving or speeding, you should look at the place in the document where it says what the type of offense is. Generally, a Manassas police officer will write down the speed that you were going as well as the speed limit. Next to that they will write speeding or reckless or SP or RD, depending on which one it is. If it doesn’t specify and it just says the speed, then right underneath that is a box that can be checked by the officer if it’s not required for you to appear in court. Reckless driving has mandatory court appearances, so if you’re issued a reckless driving summons, that box will be completely crossed out or the box won’t be checked. If it’s a traffic infraction, then it’s likely that the officer will check the box, which would excuse you from having to appear in court.
There aren’t really very many legal excuses for driving speed itself, but there are a lot of mitigating excuses that can be used in court in terms of having the charge reduced. One situation where it’s sometimes justifiable to be driving at excessive speed is if you can prove that there’s been an emergency situation. This is hard to prove and it must be pretty convincing, but usually, if the circumstances are appropriate, the judge will dismiss or reduce the charge for an emergency.
Depending on who’s looking at the record, it may not be deemed as bad as some other things. It’s important to remember that reckless driving is still a class 1 misdemeanor. This is the exact same level of offense as shoplifting and simple assault. Arguably, these are very serious offenses that don’t look good on anyone’s record. Nothing positive can come from having a criminal record, but there are so many possibilities for negative consequences that it is a bad idea to think of it as just speeding and not take it seriously.
Reckless driving by speed is considered a serious violation. For commercial driver’s license purposes, if someone receives a certain number of serious violations in a short period of time, this is cause for the commercial driver’s license to be disqualified, which means the driver will not be able to drive a commercial vehicle. If someone is a commercial driver’s license holder and they count on that to make a living, this could have a detrimental effect on their ability to do so.
A mitigating factor in such instances would be an incorrect speedometer. Sometimes the judge will reduce the speed by whatever amount the speedometer was incorrect, assuming that it’s not a huge number, because then the person should have realized that their speedometer wasn’t working. A clean record can also be a reason for a judge to be a little more lenient.
If someone were driving at an excessive speed because they were trying to save a life or limb, then that would constitute an emergency situation. There is no statute that lays out what an emergency is. It just has to be reasonable. If someone’s defense was that there was an emergency, an attorney’s approach would be to find some case law similar to their situation to back up that defense.
In reckless by speed cases, the defenses that are going to be used are going to related directly to the speed that the vehicle was going. They will focus either on proving reasonable doubt exists that the speed the driver was going was actually reckless or attempting to provide evidence for a reduction of the speed to a traffic infraction rather than a criminal offense. Each type of reckless driving has different requirements for proving the driving speed that endangers life, limb or property, and for each particular type there are different defenses depending on the behavior. With reckless driving by speeding, the behavior just happens to be speeding.
Reckless driving by speed and speeding tickets are completely different levels of charges. Reckless driving in Virginia is a criminal offense, whereas a speeding ticket is a traffic infraction. Traffic infractions are not jailable offenses, and typically the penalty is a fine as well as demerit points on the driver’s license. The penalties for criminal offenses are much more severe and do sometimes have jail time as a component. Also, a conviction for reckless driving will be on somebody’s criminal record permanently, whereas a speeding ticket will go away over time. Either one can result in a suspended license or increased insurance premiums.
The reason to hire a lawyer for this kind of offense is that reckless driving by speed is a criminal offense. It’s a class 1 misdemeanor, which means that it’s punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a fine of up to $2,500 and a license suspension of up to 12 months. These are very serious long-term consequences, and a reckless driving lawyer can provide multiple defenses to try to avoid a conviction of this severity. Even if it’s not possible to get the charge ultimately dismissed, a lawyer can possibly argue to have the charge reduced and potentially can mitigate the penalty that comes with it.
An attorney can help you by analyzing the facts in your case to determine what possible defenses are available and analyzing all of the evidence to build a strong defense in your case. Your attorney can help you understand what you need to do to prepare for court in order to get the best possible outcome, then your attorney can help you in court by adequately presenting the evidence in a convincing manner to shed reasonable doubt on the facts testified to by the officer. Your attorney can also try to argue to have the charge reduced or dismissed, or at the very least, your attorney can try to mitigate the penalty.
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