Resources: Reckless Driving in Fairfax County
courtesy of our Northern Virginia Criminal Lawyer and Local Fairfax Traffic Attorney, Brenton Vincenzes
Notice: do not rely on anything you find online or hear from friends or family members when it comes to a criminal charge in Virginia. Every criminal charge results in a permanent arrest record, even if you were not placed in cuffs or transported to a detention facility… and no matter what anyone has told you, legal representation is very important, especially in Virginia. It is important to be in a position to make good decisions as a case progresses through the system. Each decision could have long-lasting consequences. And unless you have a lawyer who knows exactly what he or she is doing, you may end up with a charge you can never expunge (or remove from your public record). With that disclaimer stated, this page is meant to inform and educate, not replace the advice or counsel of a legal professional.
If you are faced with a pending traffic case in Fairfax County, chances are it is a frequently charged misdemeanor related to motor vehicle operation, if it is not an infraction. Do not feel ashamed:
- Most traffic-related misdemeanors involve license issues, such as no valid operator’s license;
- Driving while suspended; and,
- Driving after a license has been revoked.
Other common charges: driving while intoxicated (DWI), reckless driving by speed, and reckless driving (generally). Some of these traffic-misdemeanors are very serious, while others may arise by no true wrongdoing on the part of the accused (e.g., driving on suspended without notice).
If you are reading this page, it is likely for the reason that you or a loved one has been stopped and issued a Summons to appear in Fairfax County General District Court, alleged to have violated a Virginia reckless driving law. Did you know there are over a dozen ways to break the Virginia reckless driving laws? Read more about the penalties, types of charges, and more here, our primary reckless driving page for Virginia drivers.
This post is meant to make readers aware of some very important resources.
Nothing on this page is legal advice, so please do not rely on anything you read. Whether or not you hire a lawyer to handle your reckless driving case is up to you. As a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer who has served many Northern Virginians and out-of-state drivers charged in Fairfax County, these are three things I have found to be helpful…not every time, but if I had to pick three widely applicable resources/actions/methods to improve one’s chances prior to a hearing date, these three top the list:
Summary of Resources, from our Fairfax reckless driving lawyer:
This is labeled, “example resource list,” because it represents just a small sample of the resources reckless driving lawyers and Fairfax traffic defense attorneys may discuss with an individual who consults with them in person.
- Community Service Opportunities in Fairfax
- Virginia Driving Courses (approved by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles)
- Virginia Alcohol Classes
- Virginia Statute Listing Penalties for Different Misdemeanor Classes
- Speedometer Check / Calibration and Testing
- Out of State Records
Fairfax County Reckless Driving Resources and Explanations
Please talk to a licensed Northern Virginia criminal lawyer before assuming you do not need one. In my professional opinion, everyone who faces a reckless driving charge should have a lawyer, especially if that charge is in Fairfax County.
In Fairfax County General District Court (also referred to as, Fairfax County Traffic Court), defendants do not get the opportunity to talk to the prosecutors (also called the Commonwealth’s Attorneys). Since defendants are not able to communicate to the prosecutors prior to the judges calling their names, it is not possible to show the prosecution documents or other information to help amend, reduce, or negotiate a plea agreement. This includes driving course certificates; speedometer tests; and, other helpful documentation. Instead, a Fairfax County Traffic Court defendant appearing without a Virginia traffic attorney will have to wait for the judge to call their name and ask them to enter a plea (guilty, not guilty, or no contest). Since a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia is punishable by up to 12 months in jail, a massive two-thousand, five-hundred dollar fine, or both, it is important to have a lawyer to get the best results possible given the circumstances and meet the individual’s goals. Some people in Northern Virginia work for the federal government, and maintaining a security clearance is a requirement, for example.
Most Fairfax reckless driving charges I have personally helped clients beat have not required community service, neither before nor after the initial hearing. In fact, it is rare I would recommend community service prior to a hearing. However, in some cases, a Fairfax reckless driving lawyer may recommend certain measures – including community service among others:
- to improve one’s negotiating position;
- to demonstrate a contribution to society; or,
- for some other purpose unique to your situation.
Virginia Driving Safety / Driver Improvement Courses
In Fairfax, the judges will not dismiss a traffic citation, infraction, or misdemeanor such as reckless driving, solely based upon your completion of a driving school or safety course. In some jurisdictions in Northern Virginia, this is not the case…and I routinely see people ask the judge for traffic school in lieu of conviction because they have had experience going before other judges in other counties or states. Every time, the judges in Fairfax County Traffic Court basically state the same thing:
We do not do traffic school in Fairfax.
But wait…traffic school is not irrelevant. If you are facing a reckless driving charge in Fairfax County, taking a driving improvement program or class can be beneficial in a few ways (but not in the manner described above):
First, some local Fairfax reckless driving attorneys recommend a driving improvement course (approved by DMV), to show the Commonwealth that the driver takes the charge seriously and wishes to improve his/her driving skills.
Second, anyone can take a driving improvement course (though there are limitations), to obtain positive DMV points (these can be thought of as points to offset negative demerit points). Note: demerit points can result in a suspended license, increased insurance premiums, and/or coverage issues.
If you are a Virginia licensed driver, you will be allocated safe driving points (usually this happens in early April) each year you go without any traffic violations or license suspensions. Remember, a license can be suspended even if you do not violate a traffic law (e.g., if you do not pay a fine ordered by a court). You may wish to consult with a local Northern Virginia reckless driving and traffic attorney, because in some cases, it may be possible to earn safe driving points by successfully completing driver improvement training. Up to 5 safety points can be earned.
Below, you will find the link to the DMV driving courses.
These courses have all been approved by the Virginia DMV, and are eight (8) hours in length. If you choose to complete an online course, you will still need to take the final test at a testing location (usually a fed-ex/Kinko’s location).
DMV Approved Online Courses: http://www.dmv.state.va.us/drivers/#pcbased.asp
Virginia Alcohol Classes
resource for alcohol-related classes. Calvary Counseling Center.
A typical reckless driving by speed case, for example, will not have anything to do with alcohol, driving while intoxicated, or other such related accusations. On the other hand, sometimes a charge is amended to reckless driving down from another offense that does involve alcohol. Fore example, a very good result when charged with driving while intoxicated is reckless driving. However, since this is considered a very good deal, it is not offered frequently, and if it is offered, almost surely it will require the individual to complete some alcohol safety class, pay a hefty fine, and perhaps do some time in jail. Usually the alcohol aspect of the penalty is through ASAP (Alcohol Safety Action Program). Some local Fairfax reckless driving lawyers believe it is helpful to take private alcohol education classes under some circumstances. There is no way to know what a legal professional would tell you to do, however, until you speak with a local Fairfax County Reckless Driving lawyer. Many offer a free consultation, our firm included.
We go above and beyond, and will offer to talk to you by phone, in-person, or online. For the quickest and easiest consultation, give us a call at: 703.665.3719
Virginia Misdemeanor Penalties
If you missed our blog-post and infographic, here it is. To simply read the statute explaining the Virginia classes of misdemeanors and respective penalties, read the law here.
Below, I have listed the basics:
- Class 1: up to 12 months confinement + $2,500 maximum fine
- Class 2: up to 6 months confinement + $1,000 maximum fine
- Class 3: a fine of up to $500
- Class 4: a fine of up to $250
Note: there are additional penalties in some cases, if the law involves children and punishing proximity to children. Ask a local Virginia criminal lawyer for an analysis if you have questions.
Is My Speedometer Accurate?
Even new cars can have faulty or inaccurate speedometer readings sometimes. Most new vehicles are not calibrated off the factory line. If you are charged with reckless driving in Virginia and your speed is alleged be around the over- 20mph mark – or, if your speed is alleged to have been right around 80-82 mph — then it may be wise to ask your local Fairfax County Reckless Driving lawyer about this option. I frequently recommend it to people. There is a specific type of device used by a few local auto shops, capable of determining whether or not your speedometer is off. As a very active Fairfax reckless driving lawyer, I make sure clients go to a particular auto shop because the Commonwealth’s Attorney’s know it is reputable and respect its’ results. I have heard of some shops receiving absolutely no credit for purposes of negotiating an agreement because of their poor reputations. This is one of the many ways an experienced and skilled Fairfax, VA reckless driving attorney can help with the case.
Out of State Records
Northern Virginia is an area where people from Maryland, the District of Columbia, North Carolina, and other states frequently pass through. It should come as no surprise to most people who are familiar with the roads in this area that a driver who is not aware of the strict Virginia reckless driving penalties; the traffic patterns around rush hour; and, the relatively low speed limits in some areas compared to other states…often find themselves in a tough spot.
If charged with reckless driving in Virginia, you have to appear in court. Sometimes, it may be possible to have an attorney appear for you. But the default rule is that you must appear in court even if you live out of state. If you are licensed in another state, it may be to your advantage to go to a local motor vehicles department location and ask for your driving record. Before you take this step, ask your local Fairfax reckless driving lawyer if it is a good idea. It will depend upon your record, case facts, goals, and other factors.
The point of obtaining a record from another state is to do something for the Commonwealth. Why do something for the prosecution? Sometimes, it is wise to provide the Commonwealth’s Attorney with a copy of an out of state driving record (if it is relatively clean). They do not typically have out of state records, and if they do not have an out of state driver’s record for purposes of assessing their driving history, it is left to speculation. It also shows good faith. Before taking any actions based on something you have read online, please remember nothing you have just read is legal advice, and nothing takes the place of a lawyer.
Give us a call today: I will personally return your call if you do not reach me right away.
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