Reckless Driving in Virginia

WTDW Podcast | Episode 4: What To Do When… You are Facing Reckless Driving with Scott Cardani and Jackie Critzer.

See Also:

What To Do When Legal Chat Podcast... As Seen on the News from Critzer Cardani PC

Episode 21: What To Do When… You are Facing Reckless Driving.

Intro 0:01
Welcome to What To Do When….A podcast from real lawyers with real perspective, where we explore a variety of legal issues and scenarios. Each week we focus on a new topic and discuss What to do When, and if any of these legal scenarios ever happened to you or a loved one. With over 40 years of combined legal experience, our hosts offer their unique perspectives and insights on a range of real life legal situations.

Jackie Critzer 0:28
Thanks for joining us for another episode of What To Do When… The dummies guide to the legalverse, Critzer | Cardani here in Richmond, Virginia, bringing you a new episode today.

Scott Cardani  0:38
Folks, I just want to talk to you a little bit about a simple charge that a lot of people get and don’t understand and end up pleading guilty to something they shouldn’t. So reckless driving is one of those charges. I’m in court a lot, a lot more than most attorneys. And so a lot of my time in court is waiting to be called. So I watch the court I watch what’s going on, and I watch so many people plead guilty to this charge called reckless driving. So I thought it’s really important that we talk about it, we talk to help people understand that is not something you should plead guilty to.

Jackie Critzer 1:13
Well, what is reckless driving?

Scott Cardani 1:16
Well, in Virginia, reckless driving is a traffic charge that’s elevated to a misdemeanor charge. So no longer it’s just everybody thinks it’s a simple traffic. But on your record, it’s a it’s a misdemeanor, why that is important is a bunch of things. Number one, you could literally get time, you can get up to 12 months in jail, nobody’s gonna probably get 12 months in jail on a reckless driving, but it’s there. The other thing is you can lose your license. But more importantly to me is the fact that every time you apply for your job, or your kid applies for a job, they say, Have you ever been convicted of a misdemeanor? You have to say yes, and you have to explain this away. So it’s a misdemeanor. It’s not just a traffic offense. And that’s kind of a big problem. I don’t think most people really understand that because they’re going to traffic court. And they’re like, Oh, I had an accident.

Jackie Critzer 2:07
How is it different than than just speeding? Well, really, there’s two different kinds of reckless, right?

Scott Cardani 2:13
Well, there is there’s reckless by speed, and then there’s reckless driving, usually reckless by speed, you’re going so fast that and that’s a little harder to defend in the sentence. And that’s not what I’m talking about. I’m talking about when you have an accident. Usually that’s the case or you’re pulled over because the the police officer didn’t like how you were driving, quite frankly. And so the ticket they normally write is reckless driving, and I’m like, Okay, what about their driving was reckless. That’s what they have to prove the Commonwealth has to prove beyond a reasonable doubt that the person driving was driving recklessly, which means and endanger of life, limb or property is kind of the way we talked about,

Jackie Critzer 2:59
Well, how might a Commonwealth attorney tried to prove reckless driving?

Scott Cardani 3:03
Well, you want to back up a little bit, because I think it’s really important. Hear me, folks, just because you or your child wrecked does not mean you were recklessly driving. I think that’s what’s in people’s head, I think that’s where they understand – I had a wreck, obviously, I was reckless. That’s not what it is. That has nothing to do with it. So you can have an accident. But it doesn’t mean you were driving recklessly, you can even make a mistake, it does not mean you are driving recklessly. You may be driving improperly, which is a lesser kind of lesser included thing, which is still a traffic offense versus a criminal offense.

Jackie Critzer 3:41
So just because let’s say my teenager, recently licensed was driving too fast for the conditions, we’ve been getting a lot of snow here in central Virginia, really for the last few weeks. And just because my teenager slides off the road goes around a curve too fast, whatever that may be doesn’t necessarily mean they were reckless, even if they got a reckless ticket.

Scott Cardani 4:00
Now, that’s the most amazing thing. And that’s why I think it’s so important to get some help get a lawyer and plead not guilty. Because, number one, nobody saw the wreck. Nobody saw his driving. Nobody knows whether he was going too fast or too slow. And quite frankly, what’s more important is what was too fast or too slow. And who’s the determining factor on that? So I realize that – I want to say this carefully because I am sure most of you have a sense of integrity and you made a mistake you want to own up to it. And I am all about that. I think that’s very important that we take responsibility. But taking a guilty charge to a criminal charge is not taking responsibility that’s just being ignorant of the law really, and I understand it because it you just think well makes sense. My kid was driving down the road and he racked he should have been driving that fast. Well, he’s I get the case I look into it. Well, how fast was he really driving while he was driving? 20 You know, 25 or 15 in a 25… I still said that wrong 20 in a 15 mile an hour zone or something like that. That’s not reckless. It’s kind of maybe dumb. Maybe it was improper driving, maybe it was something else. Maybe he was just speeding. But reckless driving is very important. And I just see so many people. And here’s what the rub is you get a reckless driving, it goes against your insurance. So your insurance gets jacked up. Like I said, your license may get suspended. And then you’re always have this thing on your record.

Jackie Critzer 5:34
Well, and it can impact a security clearance too.

Scott Cardani 5:37
Right, absolutely all those things. So I think I just want people to understand, and I know this is kind of short, but if you get a reckless driving, talk to an attorney, call us – call somebody else. We don’t care if you actually call us, we’d love it if you called us. But I mean, it’s so important, because really, you’re standing up not only for yourself, but for others. And it’s just so important. I watched so many people plead guilty this when they really have done nothing wrong.

Jackie Critzer 6:01
Well, I think a lot of people, though, have the either conception, or maybe you’ll say misconception that that because they rear ended somebody, they maybe the person in front of them slammed on their brakes, and they were following too close, whatever the reason is, but if they rear ended somebody, maybe because we’ve seen it on TV, or for other reasons, people believe that, well, they’re going to get a ticket. They’re the ones getting the ticket. And in Virginia, that’s usually the reckless driving ticket when something like that happens, right?

Scott Cardani 6:27
Yeah, exactly. If it’s following too close, there’s there’s a traffic ticket for following too close. If it’s a little improper driving, there’s a traffic ticket for improper driving. It’s not reckless and a matter of fact, and I want to go over without going through all the case law. But there’s some really specific cases out there where it’s the Commonwealth’s obligation to prove beyond a reasonable doubt. And what that means real quickly is that all the other possible reasons for the wreck have to be blotted out. So they can’t just say, Well, Judge, there was a wreck, therefore, it’s reckless as my case was the other day the Commonwealth was sitting there, kept bringing up the wreck judge the wreck, it was a bad wreck judge. Clearly, it was reckless, because it’s a bad wreck. No, I can be going 65 miles down the road, in a tire blow and plow into somebody that’s not reckless driving, the wreck could be horrific. I could flip the car 17 times.

Jackie Critzer 7:18
A deer could have run out. And I mean, there’s so many, reasons.

Scott Cardani 7:21
That’s the whole point. There’s so many things that could have caused the wreck. And the Commonwealth attorney has to prove that you were doing something wrong. And not just maybe one thing. There’s case law out there where the driver failed a sobriety test, which is a DUI test on the side of the road, and admitted to going too fast. And the court found that not to be reckless. So it’s a really high standard because it is a criminal charge. And all other possibilities of why you had your accident or why you were charged with reckless driving have to be excluded. That’s what we call beyond a reasonable doubt.

Jackie Critzer 7:59
Why would a police officer write a ticket for reckless driving? On an accident? Somebody slid off the road? Nobody saw it? Why would they write that for reckless driving if it didn’t sort of qualify as reckless driving?

Scott Cardani 8:11
I think it’s just the assumption. You wrecked you probably were driving recklessly prove it otherwise. But in Virginia and every other state in the United States are innocent till proven guilty. Actually, they have to prove it. You don’t. So that’s my point. I think it’s just the go to so to speak. It’s the biggest crime and we can whittle it down in court if we have to do something lesser sometimes is what maybe they’re thinking, I don’t know. Sometimes there’s policy in their police department where if there’s an accident, right for reckless, we’ll figure it out later. You don’t know. Because quite frankly, remember this. When the officer comes to court say he was at the scene of your accident. But he didn’t see you drive. He didn’t see the accident, most likely, maybe he was on the embankment Maybe he saw it, but most likely responded after the accident. He doesn’t know what happened. Excuse me. So again, we’ve said this in many podcasts, and we’ll say it many times more. This is why you don’t talk. You don’t give information because you don’t know what you’re gonna say. And what you say may or may not help you. Everybody thinks they’re helping themselves out. I’m gonna talk my way out of this. Usually you’re talking your way into it. So you can simply say to the officer with all due respect, I’m going to talk to a lawyer before I talk to anybody else. I think I need to consult a lawyer, let him write whatever he’s gonna write, it doesn’t matter. But as soon as you start talking, you’re probably gonna give him evidence that you were driving recklessly or you may have been driving recklessly, and it’s gonna make the case that much harder.

Jackie Critzer 9:44
So he pulls up. This maybe he or she state trooper pulls up to the scene of this accident where the teenager slid off the road. And I think about that because I have some teenagers at home and I’m worried about it, but they slid off the road. Maybe they hit a tree for whatever reason the car is disabled. Most police officers are going to say, are you okay, number one? And what happened? And most people are going to say, Well, I’m not sure, but I think I hit an ice pack, or whatever the case may be.

Scott Cardani 10:12
You know, it’s really funny because again, I think it’s that mentality of I wrecked, therefore, I was reckless. And I think because you think you had an accident, you may have done something wrong. But I think we have to back ourselves up and realize sometimes accidents just happen. Sometimes we were doing everything okay. And it wasn’t our fault. And so when you admit that and you’re, you’re nervous, you’re scared, you just had an accident. And you know, one of the bigger reasons not to talk is you may be concussed, you may not be in your right state of mind. All that stuff. You may be saying stuff you don’t even remember you said two days later. So it’s just so much better not just say, officer, and we got to train our children to say this, folks. They need to know how to interact with officers, they do not need to incriminate themselves, which means they do not need to say, Hey, I did it. And the cop said, What were you doing? I did this and this, you don’t have to answer those questions.

Jackie Critzer 11:05
I was on my phone, I was turning the dial on the radio, whatever the case is,

Scott Cardani 11:08
They have to prove their case. And again, this is important for everybody. This is something again, some people say, Well, how do you do this? And I’m like, our Constitution was written that the state must prove the case, not us. And we have the right not to incriminate ourselves. So we have to put that in. And it just really does help the whole it makes the whole policing better, it makes everything better when we don’t plead guilty to things that we’re not guilty of. So it makes everybody dot their i’s and cross their T’s and do everything right. So then when the police come knocking at your door for no reason. They can’t just Oh, obviously there there must have done something wrong kind of thing. And I think that’s what people do in reckless driving, obviously, I racked obviously, he’s pulling me over, I must have done something wrong. I can’t train your children. You give them that license, they have to go to this thing with the courthouse usually, I guess with COVID They haven’t had to do that. But you know, people talk to him and say, Hey, all the things you need to do driving, nobody trains them. How do you respond when an officer pulls you over? You’re polite, you’re cooperative, and you say nothing. Cooperative, excuse me, and say nothing. Hey, thank you officer for responding. What happened? You know, I’m gonna, with all due respect, I’m gonna talk to a lawyer. I don’t I don’t know. And I just want that opportunity. So I appreciate it. You know, you No, no, I wouldn’t have to write your reckless. Okay. I know you have to your job. I appreciate that. Thank you very much.

Jackie Critzer 12:31
And that’s the end of it, that there shouldn’t be a greater discussion about that. And if you or your teenage child or young adult child or another family member, friend, co-worker whom ever gets a reckless driving charge. Tell them to call somebody, call the lawyers at Critzer Cardani – call someone who can help with reckless driving and eliminate that from being a criminal misdemeanor offense.

Scott Cardani 12:56
If possible, that’s gonna affect a long period of time and multiple aspects of your life that you really don’t know until it happens.

Jackie Critzer 13:03
Okay, next time.

Scott Cardani 13:05
Thank you.

Outro 13:05
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of what to do when for more episodes, be sure to subscribe to our podcast, and we encourage you to check our archives to listen to previous topics. Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Crtizer Cardani.

What To Do When…Legal Chat Podcast Outro
We hope you’ve enjoyed this episode of what to do when for more episodes, be sure sure to subscribe to our podcast and we encourage you to check our archives to listen to previous topics Tune in next week for a new episode and some fresh perspective from Critzer Cardani.

Need Legal Help? Contact Critzer Cardani.

We look forward to helping you in this venture and Good Luck!