What is Reckless Driving by Speed?
The driving behavior that falls under the charge of Reckless Driving is that endangers the life, limb, or property of any person. This means that anything from failing to give proper signals to racing can lead to a Reckless Driving charge. One of the most common ways to catch a charge for Reckless Driving in Stafford County is by speed. Specifically, if you are going 20 mph or more over the posted speed limit or you are going over 80 mph at all, regardless of the posted limit, a law enforcement officer can initiate a traffic stop and charge you with Reckless Driving. As a traffic offense, your Reckless Driving charge will be heard in the Stafford County General District Court in front of a judge, not a jury.
While Reckless driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor offense, do not let that fool you. A conviction can produce serious consequences including a fine of up to $2,500, license suspension for up to six months, and jail time of up to one year. Moreover, a conviction will stay on your DMV record for 11 years and your criminal record permanently.
After a law enforcement officer charges you with Reckless Driving by speed, the best thing to do is consult an attorney. Discussing the specific facts of your case will allow an attorney to work to develop a strong defense and tailor it to your needs. The most common defenses for Reckless Driving by speed are as follows:
- Faulty Radar/LIDAR Reading. In any case, where there is an issue of speed, the Commonwealth bears the burden of proving that the device that the law enforcement officer used to measure how fast you were going was recently calibrated and accurate on the day in question. If the Radar/LIDAR gun was not recently calibrated or was inaccurate when the officer pulled you over, it creates doubt as to whether the speed it displayed was true and correct.
- Improper Calibration of Your Car’s Speedometer. Similar to issues with the Radar/LIDAR detector, if your car’s speedometer is not properly calibrated, it may not accurately reflect the speed you were actually going. Perhaps your speedometer is off by 7 miles per hour so you thought you were traveling at a speed of 75 miles per hour when you were actually going 82. While not all judges will take this into account, some judges will consider the fact that you did not intentionally drive recklessly when making their decisions.
- The GPS Showed Differently. While nearly all navigation apps have the feature showing you the speed limit in the area in which you are driving, some apps even go so far as to show you the rate of speed your actually traveling at in that very moment. This can be helpful when it comes to contesting the officer’s account of how fast you were going. In order to do this effectively, you need (1) proof of how fast the GPS said you were going at the time in question and (2) proof that the GPS was accurate.
- There was an Emergency. If you were going over 20 mph over the posted speed limit or over 80 mph at all as a result of responding to an active emergency, it is unlikely that the judge would impose harsh penalties, if any at all.
Consult an Attorney
As always, it is always best to consult an attorney to ensure that you get the best possible outcome, especially given the severity of some penalties. If you have any questions, we absolutely recommend that you reach out to us or another attorney for guidance on going forward.