I was driving in VA (I'm a NC driver) on my way home to DC to visit my mom. I thought the speed limit had rose back to 70 mph from 65 but it jumped down to 60. I was going 76 mph. A police officer started to pull me over and put his lights on. He startled me and I jumped (I've never been pulled over before) and lost control of the wheel. I crashed my car into the guard-rail in the middle of the road. I was in the far left hand lane. No one was hurt except for me. The officer charged me with speeding and reckless driving for failure to maintain proper control. I didn't even realize I was going that fast because I was keeping up with traffic. Do I need a lawyer? I have no previous tickets or points on my license.
Why, yes. You need a lawyer, and by the sound of it, rather quickly. A couple of pointers for folks that are new to the legal system. First, it is good news you have no traffic offenses in your past. That will help with negotiations. However, in VA, reckless driving is a first class misdemeanor with a sentence of up to one year in jail. It is also possible that the police officer will argue you were attempting to evade or escape an arrest. While you weren't charged with this, it will also be discussed with the prosecutor (the person who ultimately makes the final decision on how to move forward with the charges). In DC, there is a provision under Federal Law to allow first time offenders a deferred disposition -- attend a safety course, do some community service, and the charges are dropped. That is usually not available in VA -- but some jurisdictions do have diversion programs. It will help to take a safety course and traffic awareness class before the hearing -- and your attorney will explain this in more depth.
Secondly, it is very important to make clear that neither the state (Virginia in this case), nor the prosecutor (called a Commonwealth's Attorney in VA) care one whit about how you feel, or whether you thought you were "just keeping up with traffic." Get that out of your mind. This is about the facts only. Were you speeding? Did you lose control of your vehicle? Was there an accident? These are the factual questions your attorney will help you address, and ensure that the best possible spin is placed on the case.
DO NOT do this without an attorney. If this was just a speeding ticket, you could try to wing it yourself. This charge, however, could include serious consequences, and if the police officer wants to go for your jugular, or the prosecutor feels you were being difficult, you could find yourself with a 10 day jail sentence. If you need further help, call us. 703-402-2723 or 1-800-579-9864. You may also reach us at firstname.lastname@example.org.
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