Reckless Driving By Speed vs Other Traffic Offenses

Although it may appear similar to a normal speeding ticket, reckless driving by speed is a very serious offense that carries much more serious penalties than a simply speeding offense. As a result, it is important you understand the differences between the two and then consult with a Virginia reckless driving lawyer to assist you in building a defense. An attorney can explain what reckless driving by speed means and help you develop the strongest defense possible. Call today to learn more.

How Reckless Driving is Different From a Speeding Ticket

What makes reckless driving by speed different from a speeding ticket is that reckless driving is an actual crime. What most people refer to as speeding tickets in Virginia are civil infractions. While these infractions can put points on your license, they can never trigger jail time, nor can they trigger a loss of driving privileges imposed by the court. Reckless driving by speed, on the other hand, can trigger both of those penalties and can have far-reaching consequences.

Any time you have a criminal conviction, it looks bad on your record. And it’s not ever just speeding for two reasons. First because the penalties that can come with it are serious, including jail time and loss of license. Second because if you’re subject to a criminal background check—for instance, while applying for a job or trying to obtain  a security clearance—or if you have a commercial driver’s license, any kind of criminal offense can potentially have an adverse effect on your ability to work or hold a license.

How Do You Know Which You Are Being Charged With?

Even if someone is driving fast enough to be charged with reckless driving, a police officer might still treat it as a civil speeding infraction. When you’re trying to determine whether you have a reckless driving ticket or not, look at the summons. If you are being charged with reckless driving, you should see the words “reckless driving” or the reckless driving statute (§46.2-862) on the face of the document. If you can’t tell for sure, a lawyer will be able to help you to decipher what precisely you have been be charged with.

How Reckless Driving By Speed Differs From Other Types of Reckless Offenses

Each type of reckless driving is dealt with somewhat differently in court because there are different elements that have to be proved. In the case of a reckless driving by speed, the prosecution has to prove what the speed was at the time of the incident, usually by having the officer who issued the summons testify.

However, in order for the Government to use an officer’s testimony, the officer must have maintained proper calibration of the device used to measure the speed, whether it was LiDAR, mobile radar or pacing. The officer must be able to testify that he or she calibrated the radar device before and after his or her shift, and that tuning forks or other device used to calibrate the radar device was also properly calibrated not more than six months previous to the traffic stop. Most importantly, the officer must demonstrate all of this by bringing the appropriate certificates to court.

After completing these steps, then the officer can testify as to the speed, and that will be conclusive on the issue of speed in most cases.