Common Defenses In Reckless Driving Cases
As is the case in most other states, Virginia’s reckless driving law is extremely vague. Prosecutors usually bring the most aggressive charges that the facts could possibly support. Therefore, they often over-use the reckless driving law when a lesser charge, like speeding, is more appropriate. This aggressive posture often gets prosecutors in trouble when these cases go to court.
Over-charging a case gives a Manassas reckless driving lawyer a better chance to successfully resolve these charges. This successful resolution often means a reduction to a lesser-included offense that doesn’t have the same direct and collateral consequences as reckless driving. Prosecutors are usually willing to make such deals if the evidence is weak.
Typos on the Ticket
Somehow, the myth began that any typo on a ticket, no matter how insignificant, makes it legally invalid. That’s usually not the case, because of an obscure legal doctrine called idem sonans. This phrase is Latin for “sounds alike” and Legalese for “close enough.”
Minor errors often include the wrong model vehicle or the wrong location. But these minor errors could be major errors in some situations.
For example, if the pleadings state that a Chevrolet was driving recklessly and the defendant was driving a Ford, there could be a fatal variance between the pleadings and the proof. That variance could lead to a dismissal. Judges usually allow prosecutors to amend the pleadings, even at the last minute. But first, they must catch the mistake.
The wrong location could create jurisdictional problems. Loudoun County judges only have jurisdiction over Loudoun County offenses. If the offense was across the line in another county, prosecutors must start over from square one in the correct jurisdiction.
We mentioned speeding above. Excessive speed reckless driving charges might be the most common reckless driving charges in Virginia. These charges often don’t hold up in court, mostly depending on the enforcement method used:
- Pacing: The most common enforcement method is basically estimating another car’s speed, usually by comparing it to other vehicles on the road at the time. This method assumes that the other drivers aren’t speeding. Additionally, many vehicles, like muscle cars, sound fast, even if they aren’t moving fast.
- RADAR: A RADAR gun aims a cone of light waves at a vehicle or a cluster of vehicles. The results are somewhat accurate at close distance. At a long distance, the light cone widens and makes the results unreliable. Additionally, if an officer aims a RADAR gun at a cluster of vehicles, the results prove one of them was speeding, but not which one was speeding.
- Laser: These gadgets are much more accurate than RADAR guns. An officer aims a point of light at a license plate and measures the return time to calculate the vehicle’s speed. Fancy gadgets like laser guns require lots of maintenance. Judges routinely throw out the results if there’s no evidence of proper maintenance.
Manassas criminal defense lawyers work extra hard on speeding cases. The collateral consequences of these convictions, mostly higher auto insurance rates, are often worse than the direct consequences.
We touched on this defense above. If more than one motorist is speeding or driving recklessly, police officers look like they unfairly targeted a defendant. This defense is not a “legal” defense as such. But it does erode the officer’s credibility in the eyes of many jurors.
Count on a Dedicated 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. Convenient payment plans are available.