What if the Police Officer Does Not Show Up?
This is by far the most common question I receive from potential clients. Your case will not be dismissed if the police do not show up on the court date. On the first calling of the case will simply be continued to the officer's next court date. I was recently in court where the judge informed the courtroom of over 100 defendants that the officer was off that day due to scheduled surgery. One individual informed the court that he drove over 4 hours to get to court and could not come back. The Judge informed him that his case was continued without any sympathy. On your third or fourth appearance to court, the Judge might consider a dismissal. That would be an extremely rare case and is not likely to happen.
How Can an Attorney Help?
The goal of your attorney should be to get your charge dismissed or reduced to an infraction. I cannot speak for other attorneys, but I fight for my clients. I sometimes include appeals to the Circuit Court in my fee because sometimes that’s what it takes to get the desired outcome for my clients. I listen to what is important to them. For most clients, keeping the misdemeanor off their record or keeping their insurance payments low is what matters most.
Can I Get My Speedometer Calibrated?
Yes, in many Reckless Driving by speed cases the client is only a few miles over the speed that caused them to be charged with a Reckless Driving instead of a simple speeding ticket. If you are of the belief that your car was not going the speed the officer believed, then getting your vehicle's speedometer calibrated might be an option for you. However, prices vary on this service and it might cost you more than its worth. Please contact an attorney in your area before you commit your finances to get a calibration done on your vehicle.
Do I Need to Come to Court if I Hire an Attorney?
It depends on the charge. Each judge has different rules. If you are over 100 miles per hour be prepared to come back to Virginia. If you are involved in an accident that involves other vehicles, most likely you have to come to court. In most cases, my clients do not come to court because I can represent them on their behalf. This is very convenient for out of state drivers who are driving through Virginia on the Interstate and can’t come back. The attorney you hire should be very familiar with the courtroom rules in each county or city you receive your ticket from.
Can I Appeal the Decision of the General District Court?
In Virginia, you have the absolute right to appeal the decision within 10 days from the General District court ruling. You can file a motion to reconsider within 60 days to have the case re-opened. The judges are looking for a good reason before they will re-open your case. Missing your court date is not a valid reason.
Can I Prepay the Ticket Online?
No, you can not pre-pay a Reckless Driving ticket online because it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. Virginia allows you to pre-pay a speeding ticket, but not a Reckless Driving ticket. If you do not show up to court, the Judge will likely find you guilty and smack you with a fine. As discussed early in this book, this is the worst option for you to choose.
What Do I Need to Do to Fight This Ticket?
I would suggest hiring a local attorney in your area that is familiar with judges and rules of his/her courtroom. If you have a clean driving record, I would obtain a copy of my driving record from the DMV. If you were involved in an accident, I would write down everything that happened for the attorney to review. Sometimes it is good to take pictures of the accident and scene and cars involved.
Can You Keep This Misdemeanor Off My Record?
My job as your attorney is to do everything I can to keep the misdemeanor off your record. In most cases, I have been successful reducing the Misdemeanor Reckless Driving charge to traffic infraction or dismissing the charge altogether. Each case is unique and depends on a variety of factors and past results do not guarantee future results. It is important to hire an attorney that you feel comfortable with and that will fight for you.
Is My License Going to Be Suspended or Am I Going to Jail?
It is important to talk with an attorney that practices in the jurisdiction where you got a ticket. The rules are different in each county and city. You might get a letter that says “hire me and stay out of jail.” Here in Southwest Virginia, there is no real chance of going to jail unless you exceed 100 mph on the interstate or 90 mph with a speed limit of 55 mph. Judges here don’t consider a license suspension unless you go about 95 mph on the interstate or 85 mph on road with a 55 mph speed limit. Your license will likely only be suspended in Virginia, so if you have an out of state license it might not transfer to your home state. Please consult a local attorney in your area.
DMV, Insurance Costs, and Reckless Driving
A reckless driving conviction can be financially devastating to a client. A conviction can include a fine up to $2500.00 and that is just the start. The Department of Motor Vehicles and your insurance company are notified of your conviction. It likely does not matter if you live out of state or a resident of Virginia. The Virginia DMV will let your state know of your Reckless Driving conviction and then your insurance will be notified.
Insurance.com reports, “Reckless driving is the most expensive violation among the 14 infractions we surveyed, with an average rate increase of 22 percent.” Even if your monthly rate is only increased by $20.00 to $30.00 a month, that is potentially thousands of dollars over the next few years. That is on top of what you pay in court costs. The next problem in Virginia is the length of time on your DMV record.