6 Useful Defenses to Reckless Driving & Speeding

Virginia traffic lawyer

6 Possible Virginia Reckless Driving and Speeding Defenses

If you have recently been on the receiving-end of one of the all-too-familiar, and thoroughly despised yellow pieces of paper (to the left), then you may be wondering whether or not the charge is so serious as to justify the hiring of a Virginia traffic lawyer.

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If you do not hire a Virginia defense lawyer, then you may wish to first read my recent post, and at least be aware of five logical, but nearly never successful “excuses” routinely made in court by people without attorneys. Read: 5 common speeding and reckless driving defenses that routinely fail in court.

This short list of defenses is not exhaustive of all defenses: many, many other defenses exist.  These defenses are only available to the extent that the facts warrant them potentially applicable.  This is not legal advice, so please do not rely on any of the following defenses unless it is a defense you have discussed with your Virginia traffic lawyer or local Fairfax County criminal defense attorney before trial.
[kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1 size="20" color="#003f69" ]6. “Officer, you do not have a valid calibration certificate, do you?” [/kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1]

When the police in Virginia use a radar gun or laser device to measure the speed of a driver and a question as to accuracy arises, then the Virginia Code requires the officer to show a certificate of calibration.  The officer may show an original or acceptable copy of the calibration report.

Many details are required for the calibration report to be valid. If something is missing or there is some deficiency on the face of the certificate, the case should not proceed. (See VA Code § 46.2-882).

Virginia Traffic Lawyer FairfaxSome required details are even overlooked by some attorneys:

  • Identification information of person(s) conducting test.
  • Date tested. Must not be older than six months to be valid.
  • Required: original or acceptable copy.
  • see the statute cited above for the full list of requirements your Virginia defense attorney will look for, if relevant.

A knowledgeable Virginia reckless driving lawyer and local Virginia traffic defense lawyer should be able to examine a calibration report/certificate in court if the need should arise, and also be able to point out all deficiencies on the spot.

[kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1 size="20" color="#003f69" ]5. Speedometer Calibration Report: for cases on the edge[/kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1]
Sometimes, luck is not on one’s side, and he or she is stopped for speeding in excess of 80 miles per hour (reckless driving). If there is a good reason to suspect that the speedometer is faulty, then a properly obtained and submitted calibration report can help tremendously in some cases…especially when the reckless driving charge is based upon a speed in the low-to-mid 80’s.

For example –

“the difference between a criminal charge vs. a traffic infraction for speeding could be 1-2 mph”

If a driver is ticketed for reckless driving by speed at 82 mph, then the driver potentially faces: a year in jail; over two-grand in fines, and; loss of driving privileges.  If the driver is convicted of speeding based on a “clocked” speed of 79 mph, then the driver would probably be most concerned with the number of points assessed to his license, not jail time or exorbitant fines.  The point is: when a case is on the edge, it might be wise to at least consider the possibility that a speedometer is not accurately reflecting a vehicle’s true and actual speed.  Find a trusted Virginia reckless driving lawyer to find out  about suggested shops or mechanics near you, capable of reputable testing
[kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1 size="20" color="#003f69" ]4. “I was not the person driving.”[/kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1]

An officer’s mistake as to identity of the actual driver happens more than one might suspect.  It can happen due to a number of very different underlying root causes.  Perhaps the most common reason is due, at least in-part, to a confusing accident scene and a late arrival to that scene.  If there are multiple passengers, or if someone has been injured, then probabilities escalate as to the existence of a mistake as to identity.  This is especially true when there are multiple drivers, multiple injuries, and/or conflicting statements.

Identity theft is another possibility, and obvious reason for a case of mistaken identity.  If you have been the victim of identity theft and have received a traffic ticket or Summons you believe was incorrectly issued to your name, consult an experienced Virginia traffic attorney.
[kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1 size="20" color="#003f69" ]3. “I was not driving on a highway.”[/kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1]

In some jurisdictions, a private road may not be adopted by the relevant local ordinance for purposes of meeting the definition of a “highway” in Virginia, according to The Virginia Code.  This is important, because the reckless driving laws (generally speaking) only apply on what The Code specifies as, “highways.” The legal term, “highway,” does not refer to an “interstate highway,” necessarily
[kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1 size="20" color="#003f69" ]2. “I do not remember losing control of my vehicle.”[/kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1]

When it comes reckless driving premised upon an alleged “failure to maintain control,” it seems to me that the police tend to charge individuals involved in single-car accidents with this reckless charge quite often compared to other reckless driving charges available, even if they were not at the scene when the accident took place.  Single-car accidents sometimes cannot be prosecuted because of a lack of evidence on the part of the Commonwealth and/or police.  Often, when an officer has no firsthand knowledge (in observing) an accident or the defendant behind the wheel (or any evidence that the defendant was even the driver), and when the driver can honestly not recall or does not testify as to the cause of the accident, then the case is in somewhat of a realm of the unknown.  Ultimately, the Commonwealth Attorney must prove every element of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt.  The more than is not known, usually the better.
[kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1 size="20" color="#003f69" ]1. “My GPS can help prove my innocence.”[/kc_heading_pac_18_headline_1]

How can a GPS help a Virginia driver beat a speeding or reckless driving ticket?  This defense takes a certain presence of mind on the part of the driver.  To find out how this defense has been known to work, what it requires, and what the driver needs to show, download the free report in .PDF format (condensed to a single page for easy reading):

“Virginia Reckless Driving and Speeding Defense Cheat Sheet.”  Join our newsletter  (right-hand side of page) to automatically receive a link to download the special report.

Before You Meet with Your Virginia Traffic Lawyer…

Gain an understanding as to the basics of your charge. Here are a few important things a charged individual may wish to find the answers to as soon as possible:  have a general understanding of the:

  • name(s) of the charge(s) and the Virginia Code or City/Town codes, as it appears on the Summons.
  • nature of the violation: can it be prepaid? Do you want to prepay, if you are allowed to?
  • maximum possible points assessed by the Department of Motor Vehicles for a finding of guilt.
  • Virginia General District Court case information system (applicable to many, but not every Virginia jurisdiction) – check to make sure your case is correctly entered into the system, and make a note of your court date, room number, and all other details on the page.

Remember to consult with a Virginia traffic lawyer if you have any questions about your charge(s).

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Brenton D. Vincenzes is a lifelong Fairfax County resident and Fairfax Criminal Defense Lawyer who protects and serves those charged with criminal and traffic offenses in Northern Virginia. He is a member of the Virginia Association of Criminal Defense Lawyers, and has been certified by the Virginia Indigent Defense Commission. As a local leader, Mr. Vincenzes mentors troubled youths, volunteers his time to serve at his church, takes private and court appointed indigent clients, and strives to improve the community. Mr. Vincenzes serves juveniles, adults, and families through his zealous and diligent advocacy, strategic planning, and skilled trial work. Mr. Vincenzes' areas of criminal law practice are broad, and include most felonies and misdemeanors such as: reckless driving, DUI & DWI, drug offenses, assault and battery, domestic violence, assault on an officer, destruction of property, alcohol offenses, firearm offenses, larceny, shoplifting, embezzlement, fraud, and other theft offenses, and moving traffic violations among others. Mr. Vincenzes also offers estate planning services, including Wills, Trusts, and Powers of Attorney. His private legal services are available in most Northern Virginia jurisdictions, including Fairfax County, Arlington County, Prince William County, Loudoun County, Stafford County, Alexandria, Manassas, Leesburg, South Riding, and other cities and towns.

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