Out of State Drivers and Reckless Driving Charges

Due to the fact that Virginia treats reckless driving in a much more serious fashion than many other states, drivers charged in VA who live out of state are often unsure of what they are facing. For this reason, the following is information all out of state drivers should know if they’ve been accused of reckless driving in Virginia. To learn more schedule a consultation with an Arlington reckless driving lawyer today.

Impact of a Reckless Driving Charge on an Out of State Driver?

When you’re convicted of reckless driving in Virginia as an out of state driver, it almost certainly will be reported to whatever state or jurisdiction in which you reside. The Virginia DMV communicates frequently and easily with other states and DC. But although your home state DMV may learn of the offense, each state handles it differently. So, there is no broad overarching answer to this question other than to say that a conviction will be reported to your homes state, could have a significant impact on your home state’s license, and will almost certainly affect your insurance.

A conviction for Reckless Driving will be reported to your home state, and that state will handle it in whatever manner they have chosen to including issuing demerit points or even taking your license for some period of time. So, it can have a great impact.

First Thing To Do Once You Receive a Ticket in Arlington

The first thing an out of state driver should do upon receiving a speeding ticket is check and see whether the box from the front of the summons says that they must appear in court.

If they do not have to appear in court, then they must make a determination whether they want to fight the charges or just pay the ticket without coming to court. If the police do make you to come to court and fight the charges, you can possibly seek an attorney to see whether your appearance can be waived.

Sometimes attorneys can enter appearances for an out-of-state defendant meaning that the defendant can be excused from coming to court. If an out of state defendant does not hire an attorney and the box is checked on the summons stating that they must appear in court, then they have to appear or risk a trial in their absence or a warrant being issued for their arrest.

Will An Out of State Driver Need to Show up in Court?

In Arlington, in almost every case, judges want the defendant to be there. In some cases, if you have an attorney and they do appropriate pretrial motions, they can have your presence excused, but that is the exception to the rule and not the norm. This is particularly true in a Reckless Driving situation because it carries with it the potential for a jail sentence, and if the Commonwealth does not waive jail time, your appearance is almost certainly necessary. So, I would say that the simple answer is yes, you should expect to be here, however, there are exceptions that your attorney can rely on to possibly convince a judge that it’s not necessary in certain cases.

Why Can’t You Just Pay the Fine for Reckless Driving?

Well, you often can’t just pay a fine because Reckless Driving is a jailable offense, your appearance will be required in court and you couldn’t just pay your fine and avoid coming to court.  The primary reason is that you often just aren’t able to do so.  If for some reason you are able to, it’s not a good idea because it can impact your life greatly and by paying your fine you are admitting guilt to a Class 1 misdemeanor. You not only will be responsible for the fine, but you be docked six demerit points on your license and that will stay with you for eleven years. Since you will have been convicted of a misdemeanor offense which is a crime, when you apply for jobs, security clearances or other petitions that require you to answer whether you’ve ever been convicted of a crime, you will have to say that you have.

Although it may seem like the easiest course to just pay your fine and be done with it,  it is far from the best idea. A driving conviction can impact your life in many ways and your best bet is to hire an attorney who can fight the charge or negotiate a deal that is in your interest.

Can A Lawyer Appear On Your Behalf?

It depends on the charge. For misdemeanors, you have to appear in court. Your attorney can make a motion to excuse your appearance, but that will ultimately be in the discretion of the judge. If it is a traffic infraction, you can give an attorney authorization to enter a plea on your behalf in writing. The attorney can offer that to the court in lieu of your presence there. It’s really on a case-by-case basis. I would talk to an attorney first about whether you want to appear and whether it makes sense for you to appear. If you’re out-of-state, you can talk to your attorney about entering a plea with your prior written approval on your behalf so you don’t have to show up.

What to Check On Your Ticket

The ticket will indicate the actual charge on left-hand side on the face of the summons. It will also indicate the code section under which you are being charged, for example, a number representing the Code section for reckless driving or speeding. The words “reckless driving” should be on the face of your summons if you have been charged with reckless driving. If you see “reckless driving by speed”, it’s still reckless driving. If you see no words that say reckless driving, just a speed and a speed limit, then that probably is a speeding charge, not a reckless driving charge. But to be absolutely certain you should look up the Code section under which you are charged, and that will guide you in determining whether you’ve been charged with reckless driving or not.

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