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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Bad Brakes and Legal Issues in Virginia

Bad Brakes and Legal Issues in Virginia


Bad brakes are usually a non-moving violation issue, at least in most states. However, in Virginia, driving with bad brakes could also constitute reckless driving. This infraction is a serious offense that, unlike a traffic ticket, has severe direct penalties and significant indirect consequences. Officers basically have unlimited discretion to issue a simple fix-it tickets in these situations or arrest the vehicle’s owner for reckless driving.

Regardless of the charges, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer stands up for your rights in court. In order to stand up strong, an attorney must build a solid foundation. This foundation usually includes bricks like procedural defenses, substantive defenses, and professional experience. Attorneys utilize these qualities to obtain successful results in criminal cases.

Fix-It Tickets

First-time bad brake offenders usually receive fix-it tickets. The law is vague as to what constitutes “bad brakes.” Some vehicles have inherently bad brakes, for example, they don’t have power brakes.

Other times, a manufacturing or design defect caused the issue. The manufacturer might or might not have issued a safety recall. Once again, the law is vague as to which entity, the manufacturer or owner, is criminally responsible in these cases.

Defenses are available, but in most cases, a fix-it ticket isn’t worth fighting, especially if the owner can easily and cheaply correct the problem. Responsibility issues might be unclear, but the hazards of driving with bad brakes are very clear.

Owners commonly miss court-ordered deadlines in these cases. Chores like fixing the brakes, especially if they’re working fairly well, quickly go to the bottom of most to-do lists.

If the defendant misses a court-ordered fix-it deadline, the judge usually issues an arrest warrant. Judicial arrest warrants (bench warrants) are not run-of-the-mill arrest warrants. Officers must serve them if they have a chance to do so.

To avoid unwanted arrest, a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer must lift the warrant and put the case back on the court’s regular docket. At that time, the defendant can either fight the ticket or comply with the court’s order.

Additional defenses might be available at this stage. Generally, these cases go to court several years following the issuance of the warrant. Most local law enforcement agencies have very high turnover. So, there’s a good chance the arresting officer, who is the state’s material witness, has left the force.

Reckless Driving Citations

Police often issue reckless driving citations to repeat and combination offenders. Repeat offenders have received fix-i tickets about the same, or similar, problem. Combination offenders drive with bad brakes while speeding or violating another traffic law.

In repeat offender cases, although reckless driving is a misdemeanor, the state usually doesn’t want to punish the defendant. Instead, the state wants to ensure the defendant fixes the brake problem. Pretrial diversion is usually appropriate in such cases. If the defendant addresses the mechanical problem and jumps through a few other hoops, prosecutors dismiss the charges.

Charge reduction plea bargains are usually an option in combination offender cases. Prosecutors would rather ot spend time and effort preparing for trial. They’d rather get a quick conviction (guilty plea) for something like a simple traffic violation.

Reach Out to a Diligent Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Virtual, after-hours, and home visits are available.



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