I have a NC driver's license. No history of traffic violations in 30 years. I was cited in Virginia for "reckless driving", doing 87 in a 70 mph highway. Today, I received six (6) solicitations from attorneys in the southern Virginia county where I received the violation. I haven't received the "pre-pay" thing in the mail yet so I don't know what my fine will be should I opt to pay and effectively plead guilty. (1) Should I wait and see what the fine will be? (2) How can I discern which attorney is best should I decide to go that route? (3) Approx. how much will the fees be (range)? (4) Can an attorney really help in this situation?
Was able to see the Case Details online for the Wythe County General Court. Hearing date is 8/21/2012.
I am a traffic attorney and I will be happy to help you with this. I definitely advise you to try to fight this because it is a serious offense in VA but you have a good chance of at least having it reduced due to your impeccable driving record. Reckless Driving in excess of 80 mph is a Class 1 misdemeanor criminal charge that stays on your record for 11 years. The penalty parameters for reckless driving is up to one year in jail, and/or up to $2,500 in fines. Reckless driving carries the possibility of a suspension of driving privileges for up to 6 months. Suspension and jail are very highly unlikely in your case (first offense, great driving record) and the fine will not be nearly as large as $2,500 but that is up to the judge to determine, I cannot say what the exact amount will be. There are several venues of fighting this available to you, depending on how much time and effort you want to invest into this. 1) You can fight the ticket by requesting discovery to see if there is anything wrong with the radar certificate. Also request officer's radar training records, notes, etc. Sometimes the police is so sloppy, they don't provide the necessary documents in the discovery, which means they cannot introduce them later at trial. In that case, you would have to object and say that such documents should not be admitted into evidence because you were not provided an opportunity to examine them in discovery. Some jurisdictions require you to serve your discovery request upon the prosecution and file a copy with the court, some limit the scope of discovery. So, call the court clerk to see what the requirements are and adjust this discovery request template accordingly to suit your case:[date]To: [XXXX Court, XXX District Attorney]From: [Your full name and address]Re: [Ticket/case number]I am requesting full discovery for the above case, including:* The front and back of the ticket* Officer's notes* Log book of the officer for the day of the violation* The citation issuance policies in effect for the police department on [the date of your alleged violation]* Radar/laser device make, model, serial number, options, and age* Radar/laser device calibration certificates and calibration log sheets for the year before the violation (and months following if available)* All other maintenance and repair history of the radar/laser device* Failure and error rates of the radar/laser device* The officer's certificate of competency* Records relating to the training received by the officer regarding the use of the radar/laser device including including dates, location, and instructor name and address* The training materials used by the officer when training on the radar/laser device* Date that the officer first used the radar/laser device* The full witness list* All sworn affidavits* All other evidence to be used by the prosecution [Signature]2) Appear in court and try to plea bargain with the prosecuting attorney right before the hearing. You would have to agree to plead guilty to a lesser offense which carries lesser fine/points. Clean driving record makes you an excellent candidate. 3) If the prosecutor is not willing to give a deal, the judge likely will if you show up to the hearing to explain the situation, bring up all the mitigating circumstances, financial hardship and perfect driving record.4) Even if none of the above works, traffic school may be an option to reduce/erase the points from the record. Traffic schools can be completed online, sometimes for as little as $25, and may result in insurance premiums decrease, as well as point reduction. Normally, traffic schools are not available for those with an out of state license but ask for it anyway, sometimes it works.You do not necessarily need an attorney, but an attorney would help, even though all they usually do is get you a standard plea bargaining deal which you already know how to get anyway. Most attorneys would charge around $500 for reckless driving at your speed. Nice thing about retaining a lawyer is that you might not have to go to the hearing in VA yourself.However, many attorneys offer free initial consultation, so you have nothing to lose by calling up a few of them to get some free tips or at least find out where you realistically stand. In evaluating attorneys, make sure they have satisfactory answers as far as discovery, plea bargaining strategy, what realistic outcome they expect, experience, etc. To sum up, I think you should definitely fight this, by yourself or with an attorney, and I think you have a very good chance of getting it reduced or even dismissed altogether.
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