Often nipping at the heels of the holidays are the ramifications of poor decisions made during the rat race of the season.  From busted “no more carbs” promises to the fallout from holiday parties gone wrong – regrets will litter the ground like abandoned Porgs. Some regrets are more serious than others, and some of those regrets might even result in the opportunity to discuss those poor decisions with duly appointed representatives of the Commonwealth.  When your, ahem, “friends” come to you for advice after such a discussion, here’s what to know.

Virginia doesn’t play games when it comes to speeding. The great distances traveled during the holiday season increases the odds that the representative of the Commonwealth you encounter is, in fact, a Virginia State Trooper, and the charge is reckless driving.

Why is it more likely that you are talking to a Trooper?  Well, for one, traveling increases the likelihood that such travel occurs on an interstate highway, and local police in Virginia are “invested with all of the powers and authorities which formerly belonged to the office of constable at common law.” Back in the day, that common law constable didn’t normally have the authority to go traipsing beyond his local borders to nab the wagon driver with the strong whip hand.  On the other hand, State Police are authorized to enforce the laws throughout the Commonwealth – meaning Johnny Trooper doesn’t pull up sharp at the edge of the county on I-81.

Why is it more likely that the charge is reckless driving?  Well, there are a couple of factors.  The first is that if you are driving on I-81 or I-95, a lot of the drivers around you will be traveling not within Virginia but rather through Virginia, and that really matters.  Except for drivers from North Carolina, drivers from other states passing through Virginia begin speeding when they see the speed limit has increased to 70 mph. However, those drivers usually do not understand that while the speed limit has jumped to 70 mph, unlike other states (except for North Carolina) Virginia considers everything over 80 mph to be reckless driving.  That factor means that if you are driving 79 mph on a road with a speed limit of 60 mph – 19 mph above the limit –  you get a routine speeding ticket and drop a check in the mail. But… if you drive 81 mph where the speed limit is 70 mph – 11 mph over the limit – you are charged with a class 1 misdemeanor that comes with a fine between $250 and $2500, a potential 12-month jail sentence, and perhaps a 6-month license suspension.

So, are you sufficiently scared?  Good.  Because reckless driving in Virginia is serious.  There are a number of ways to deal with such a ticket, and it is a good idea to talk to an attorney about your options.  While DBL is not a speeding ticket or criminal firm, we do on occasion assist existing clients with driving charges.  Given our location, there is potential that many seeking your suggestions regarding a reckless driving ticket are on the verge of dealing with other issues that are matters we advise on – namely a security clearance suspension/appeal or debarment/appeal because of the one-year potential jail sentence  Depending on the circumstances, a serious reckless driving charge could implicate other employment issues depending on job responsibilities.

The bottom line is to slow down and to recognize where heavy feet might cause a need for DBL’s expertise for our clients and potential clients.

Posted in: Litigation & Disputes