Virginia Beach reckless driving attorney Patricia Hardt has handled numerous reckless driving cases. Her experience has taught her that no case is like any other. The law might be the law, but each case is as different as the people involved. Accordingly, Attorney Hardt does not take a “cookie-cutter” approach to defending Virginia reckless driving cases. She will work directly with you to develop a case strategy to beat the case or, if circumstances warrant, negotiate the best plea deal possible to reduce your potential exposure. Your rights, your freedom, and perhaps even your livelihood are a stake. Virginia Beach reckless driving attorney Patricia Hardt promises to defend your rights against these charges vigorously.
Reckless Driving Law In Virginia
Virginia has two reckless driving laws. The first, which can be found at §46.2-852, prohibits driving on a highway or other public road in such a way that people’s lives are put in danger, regardless of the speed limit. The statute does not limit reckless driving to just endangering lives. The statute uses the phrase “life, limb, or property,” meaning that it is not a defense to reckless driving if no one was in imminent fear of being struck.
Reckless driving, like driving under the influence (DUI) is a Class 1 misdemeanor. After the trial, the jury could sentence you to the maximum allowable sentence of one year in jail, a $2,500 fine, or both. There is no minimum term of imprisonment for first offense reckless driving.
The Commonwealth of Virginia, represented by the prosecution, can proceed to trial on a theory of a lesser included offense of improper driving. The penalty for that crime is a fine not to exceed $500. Under that scenario, the jury could find you not guilty of reckless driving if your driving is only “slightly” reckless and find you guilty of improper driving. However, if the Commonwealth has failed to present evidence to meet their burden of proof beyond a reasonable doubt, then you must be found not guilty.
The second reckless driving statute is reckless driving by excessive speed. That law is codified at §46.2-862. Under that statute, you are guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor if you drive in excess of 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit or eighty miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit. At trial, the prosecution need only to present evidence of a calibrated speedometer of your car (this would usually occur after an accident, and the police reconstruct the accident) or by virtue of a radar reading. The radar reading can be the exclusive proof to permit a conviction unless there is a reason to believe that the radar was not working properly or there was operator error.
Reckless driving by excessive speed is also a Class 1 misdemeanor. The jury can fix the maximum punishment at one year in jail, order a $2,500 fine or both imprisonment and fine. The Commonwealth must first satisfy its burden of proof of guilt beyond a reasonable doubt before getting to the punishment phase of the trial.
Defenses To Reckless Driving
There are a few defenses you can pursue if you are facing a reckless driving charge. You and your attorney must sift through all of the Commonwealth’s evidence against you to determine the appropriate defense or defenses you can mount at trial.
The first defense is what criminal defense attorneys, and prosecutors, call the “reasonable doubt defense.” Simply put, you argue to the jury that what happened does not meet the standard of reckless driving. This defense only applies to reckless driving without excessive speed.
You can mount a defense to reckless driving by excessive speed. Your attorney must first seek information from the prosecution as to the make and model of the radar used by law enforcement. Secondly, you can get the operator’s certification and training materials to verify whether the operator used the machine correctly. The reasonable doubt defense can be used in this situation too. You can argue that the officer got the wrong vehicle when he or she pulled you over.
Aggressive Reckless Driving Defense
You could suffer collateral consequences like license loss and points on your insurance in addition to potential incarceration for reckless driving. Although the charge itself is a misdemeanor, it is as serious as a DUI charge. Do not try to take on the government all alone. Call Virginia Beach reckless driving defense attorney Patricia Hardt at 757-962-5588 to schedule your free consultation and learn how her experience can benefit you.