If you’ve been charged with reckless driving in Virginia and you already know which defenses won’t work, then you might be wondering what defenses can help you avoid a conviction and how an attorney can help you. Below are some defenses that could be used to fight a reckless driving charge, but there are many more that depend on the specifics of your case. If you want to discuss your case and get a free evaluation, please give us a call today.
Radar and LIDAR Issues: Law enforcement in Virginia frequently use radar or LIDAR (laser) equipment to determine your speed. However, the equipment needs to be used and calibrated properly in order to get an accurate read for speed. The police are required by law to calibrate radar and LIDAR equipment every six months; this includes showing a certificate in court that provides who calibrated the equipment and when it was completed. Errors with the paperwork or calibration can provide the basis for a reckless driving by speed defense. It’s also possible that radar or LIDAR results were wrong or skewed based on equipment errors, so having an attorney who can assess the results and paperwork can mean the difference between a criminal conviction and a reduced (or even dismissed) charge. Heavy traffic and distance can also play a role in defending against radar and LIDAR results.
Pacing Issues: The police also can use pacing to determine speed, and some might say it’s an outdated way of measuring speed. When a police officer is pacing, he or she will drive behind you and follow you for a while to try and match your speed. Pacing is an imprecise way of determining speed, and your speed could be influenced by curves in the road, grades on a hill (especially downhill), cruise control, vehicle electronics, and more. A reckless driving lawyer might ask additional questions from the police officer in building your defense to learn how long he or she followed you and on what stretch of road.
Speedometer Issues: If you suspect that there’s something wrong with your speedometer, especially compared to your GPS or another device, you may want to get it checked. A mechanic can conduct diagnostic tests on your vehicle to see if the speedometer matches actual speed. This may also be an option if you believe that your vehicle is incapable of going the speed that law enforcement said you were going. If your speedometer was malfunctioning, you may be able to get your charge or penalties reduced. A criminal traffic defense lawyer can help you determine if this is a good option for a defense based on your unique case and help you contact a reliable mechanic.
Accidents and Reckless Driving: If you’ve been in a car accident of any kind, the police who show up on the scene of the accident may charge you with reckless driving. Usually these charges relate to sub-charges like reckless driving for driving too fast for traffic conditions or inability to control the vehicle. However, a vehicle accident isn’t automatically sufficient for a reckless driving conviction, but it could be if no one evaluates the circumstances of your case and fights the Commonwealth’s claims against you. There also could be a mistake where you have been charged with reckless driving even though you weren’t driving. If this occurs, it’s most likely a result of multiple passengers getting out of the car and then moving around at an accident. Depending on the accident evidence and witness testimony, you could end up with reduced charges or reduced penalties. In some circumstances, the reckless driving charge may be dropped.
Is it possible to negotiate a reckless driving charge without an attorney? It’s possible but not advised. Some jurisdictions – including Fairfax County – will not allow unrepresented drivers to negotiate their case with the Commonwealth’s attorneys prior to court. An experienced Virginia reckless driving attorney can review the evidence and begin negotiating with the prosecution based on issues with law enforcement’s equipment or other factors that may have led to your charge. Reckless driving defenses can be tricky. It’s also unlikely that you have the experience negotiating a serious criminal offense, so having an attorney who knows the law, the prosecutors, and the courts is extremely helpful.