Prince William County Reckless Driving Charges for Out-of-State Drivers
Every jurisdiction treats speeding cases somewhat differently. While it is true that the judges and the prosecutors in Prince William County are some of the toughest when it comes to high-speed cases and accident cases, this jurisdiction also gives more weight to driver improvement classes than most others. A Prince William County reckless driving lawyer can help you understand the effects of driver improvement classes on your case.
In other parts of Virginia, driver improvement classes have fallen out of favor. However, Prince William County still offers significant benefits to drivers who complete this kind of class. In addition, community service is also highly valued in Prince William County when a defendant is attempting to mitigate a very high speed or a very bad accident. Finally, Prince William County contains a “Highway Safety Corridor” on I-95, one of just a few places in Virginia to receive this designation. Any fine received for a traffic infraction or misdemeanor along this stretch will result in a the fine being doubled.
Definition of Reckless Driving in Prince William County
In Prince William County, someone is by definition guilty of reckless driving when he or she:
- drives faster than 80 miles per hour, regardless of the speed limit, or
- drives 20 miles per hour or more over the speed limit.
Many people are surprised to find out that this form of reckless driving doesn’t necessarily entail driving that is dangerous or faster than other drivers around them.
Reckless Driving Ticket Indication
If you received a speeding ticket and you are wondering whether it is for simply speeding or for reckless driving, look for the following on the summons:
- the words “reckless driving,” or
- code section 46.2–862.
If either of these is present, then you are charged with the misdemeanor crime of reckless driving in Prince William County. However, if some other sections are listed, it is possible that you are being charged with a regular speeding offense or some other offense. The best thing to do is to check with a local Prince William County reckless driving attorney so that you can determine the severity of the charges.
First Steps for Out-of-State Drivers
If an out-of-state driver gets a speeding ticket, whether it is for a traffic infraction or reckless speeding, the first thing that he or she should do is contact a local lawyer in Prince William County. The state that you are from, the particular charge against you, and the particular rules about whether points are transferred from Virginia to your home state are all things that should be considered when choosing representation and determining what tactics and approaches to take in an individual case.
Handling a PWC Reckless Driving Charge from Out-of-State
If you are from out-of-state and you have received a reckless driving charge in Virginia, you have been charged with a criminal offense that is potentially punishable by jail and a loss of driving privileges in the state of Virginia. Because there is a possibility of jail, you are in fact required to appear in the Prince William County court. However, if you hire a Prince William County reckless driving lawyer, they can appear in court for you, in which case you may not be required to appear unless the charges are particularly serious, i.e. if your record is very bad or your speed is very high or both. This is a decision only a lawyer can help you make.
Fighting Your Charges in Prince William County
A lawyer can do a number of things to assist you when you are charged with reckless driving in Prince William County, whether you are not guilty of the offense or simply want to fight the charge. For instance, a lawyer can:
- help you check the calibration record of the officer’s radar device,
- interview the officer before court, and/or
- negotiate with prosecutors
- advise you as to how to mitigate your charge by taking proactive steps.
A local Prince William County attorney can also suggest ways to help mitigate your case if you are found guilty or if there are sufficient facts to find you guilty. These suggestions might include taking a driver improvement class, performing community service, or getting a speedometer calibration.
Ignorance of the law is almost never a defense for speeding in Virginia. If you are driving on the roads of Prince William County, the law is going to assume that you have been seeing the posted speed limits.
Even if you don’t know that going above 80 miles per hour is reckless driving, you may still find yourself charged with reckless speeding.
PWC Reckless Driving Attorney’s Role
If you are from out of state and cannot be present for your court appearance, a local Prince William County reckless driving attorney can represent you at the hearing in most cases. Your attorney can do everything that you as an individual could do if you were there yourself, including negotiate a plea agreement and even try a case. Reckless driving cases depend on whether the government has enough evidence to prove its case, and the defendant rarely needs to testify. Because of this, the defendant—through counsel—can require that a trial be held, and then the prosecution will have the burden of proving every element of the case beyond a reasonable doubt. It is not unusual for attorneys to make plea agreements on their clients’ behalf, nor is it unusual for them to try cases on their clients’ behalf even if a client is not present. In cases where the Government is seeking active jail time, cases that involve very high speeds, bad driving records, or both, the defendant will have to appear.
Things to Know for Out-of-State Drivers
Out-of-state drivers should be aware that speeding is taken more seriously in Virginia than most U.S. states. In other states, reckless driving is often a civil infraction that is punishable only by a fine or a temporary loss of license.
In Virginia, however, driving above 80 miles per hour or 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit is actually a crime. It is something that can remain on your criminal record for the rest of your life. It can affect your employment possibilities, your security clearance and your commercial driver’s license. If you are charged with a serious speeding offense like reckless driving in Virginia, it is absolutely critical that you retain local counsel to help you fight the charge. If you ignore it, you may unwittingly face long-term consequences as a result of having a conviction on your criminal record.