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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Reckless Driving > When is a Speeding Ticket Not a Speeding Ticket?

When is a Speeding Ticket Not a Speeding Ticket?


Officers have almost absolute discretion to enhance ordinary traffic tickets, like speeding or turning illegally, to aggressive, reckless, or improper driving. Aggressive and reckless driving are misdemeanor offenses that could involve jail time. A misdemeanor is also a much darker mark on a permanent record. Improper driving is technically a traffic citation, but the possible fine is much higher than any other citation. Furthermore, these convictions usually cause auto insurance rates to skyrocket.

Aggressive, reckless, and improper driving are not walk-away offenses. Traffic school dismissal is usually unavailable. Furthermore, the direct and indirect costs are too high to simply pay them and forget about the matter. So, if you face enhanced traffic ticket charges, you need a good Leesburg reckless driving lawyer on your side. An attorney analyzes your case, identifies possible defenses, and fights for you.

Aggressive Driving

Sometimes, aggressive driving, as defined in Section 46.2-868.1, is more like malicious driving. Enhanced penalties apply if a driver, with the intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct another person:

  • Stops on the highway,
  • Exceeds the speed limit,
  • Passes unsafely,
  • Ignores a traffic control device, or
  • Tailgates.

Enhanced penalties also apply if the driver “is a hazard to another person.” Usually, officers invoke the “hazard” clause if a driver commits more than one of the aforementioned infractions at the same time or repeatedly (e.g. Bill is pulled over for speeding at 10 a.m. and again at 2 p.m. on the same day).

Aggressive driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor (Class 1 if the driver intended to hurt someone). The judge may also require the driver to complete an aggressive driving course.

Reckless Driving

Believe it or not, the statute defines reckless driving as driving recklessly. Usually, officers press reckless driving charges in extreme cases, like the two-or-more rule mentioned above. Reckless driving might also be appropriate if the driver disregarded the safety of pedestrians (e.g. speeding near a school zone or near a busy pedestrian mall).

The broad nature of this law makes it ebay for officers to press charges. It also makes it easy for a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer to beat these charges in court.

Frequently, aggressive driving charges are profiling charges. For example, if Officer Mary issued ten speeding tickets in a week but only one reckless driving citation, she probably targeted the defendant for some reason. On a related note, some officers plan to write speeding tickets and then change their plans if the driver is uncooperative or generally unpleasant.

Reckless driving, which is usually a misdemeanor but sometimes a felony, could occur in a public place (a street or highway) or a private place (a parking lot).

Improper Driving

This offense is a fallback offense. If the evidence in a reckless or aggressive driving case is weak, especially the evidence regarding the defendant’s culpability, the court may find the accused not guilty of reckless driving but guilty of improper driving. Alternatively, an attorney for the Commonwealth may reduce a charge of reckless driving to improper driving at any time prior to the court’s decision. Improper driving is a traffic infraction punishable by a fine of up to $500.

Reach Out to a Hard-Hitting Loudoun County Lawyer

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



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