What to do if you live out of state and received a reckless driving ticket in Fairfax County
If you have been stopped by the police and issued a ticket for reckless driving, you were probably surprised when the officer told you that you would have to come to court. If you live out of the state, this probably made you very nervous, because a return to the state would be inconvenient and possibly expensive. Unfortunately, the nature of the charge requires you to appear in court. This is because it is technically a class 1 misdemeanor and jail time is a possibility. Obviously, the vast majority of reckless driving tickets do not result in jail time. That only happens for people who were going well above the speed limit and were going over 90 miles an hour. However, until your case is resolved in the courtroom there is no way for the judge to waive the requirement that you appear in court.
Fortunately, Fairfax has recognized that this requirement places an undue burden on a number of people who may have just gotten the ticket while they were passing through the state. The court has no interest in making individuals who would not be facing jail time suffer the expense of returning. To that extent the court has established a policy that allows drivers who do not want to come to have a lawyer take their place at the hearing. It is a relatively simple procedure and happens several times a day.
If you want to hire a lawyer to take your place, you will first need to complete a plea authorization form. This form authorizes your attorney to stand in for you on your court date and handle the situation in your place. T
In Fairfax, the Prosecutors office does not look into Reckless Driving cases prior to the court date. On the day of court, they go into a little room in the back of the court and discuss the facts of the case with your officer. The Prosecutor will then meet with your lawyer and discuss what happened from the officer’s perspective. They will also show your lawyer the officer’s calibrations. These calibrations evidence that the equipment had been tested within the last six months. If there is anything wrong with the calibrations, a lawyer can use that as leverage to have the case dismissed or significantly reduced. Even if there is nothing wrong with the calibrations, the Prosecutor will often offer to reduce the charge based on a driver’s good record or other considerations. These considerations are communicated to the Prosecutor by your defense attorney during this meeting.
The meeting takes place in a small room. The prosecutor will typically handle several dozen cases on any given day and will not know whether you are in court or not. Whether you come to court or not won’t have any impact on the final resolution of your case.
After discussing the facts of the case and the client’s favorable circumstances, the Prosecutor will offer a plea offer. The plea offer states that if the client is willing to plead guilty, the Prosecutor will reduce the charge to some lesser offense with a set fine. The terms of the plea are ultimately up the Prosecutor, but there is negotiation that takes place. If the plea offer is within the terms that you had authorized your attorney to accept, the plea is agreed to and the case is resolved. If the plea offer is outside the terms you had authorized the matter will be continued and you may be required to come to court. The vast majority of the time the matter can be resolved within the parameters you had set up. While lawyer’s fees are not inexpensive, they are often significantly less than the cost of travel back to Fairfax. In addition, you will probably get a better result than if you had come to court yourself.
If you have a Reckless Driving ticket and want to avoid coming to court you should take the following steps:
- Obtain a copy of your driving record from your home state
- Hire an attorney who practices in Fairfax regularly.
- Discuss your case with that attorney. Be sure to tell him any factors that you think will benefit your case or merit you receiving a break.
- Establish a resolution that would satisfy you. Obviously everyone wants the case to be dismissed. Unfortunately that is typically only possible if there is something substantially wrong with the officer’s case. A reduction in the charge is far more likely in most cases.
- Sign a plea authorization allowing your attorney to enter a plea on your behalf provided there is a sufficient reduction in the charge. Make sure the agreement is explicit. For example, if a fine over a certain amount is a deal breaker for you, make sure you communicate that to your lawyer and be certain that is included in the agreement.
- Go about your business during the day and wait for a call from your lawyer notifying you of the result.
This process is available to anyone who would rather not come to court for their ticket. Whether you live in state or simply don’t want to spend a vacation day at work sitting in a courtroom, using a plea authorization may be a solid investment.