Jeff McConnell and James Mennella
Watch your speed
Getting from point A to point B as quickly as possible has always been an issue in transportation. Whether you are a commercial or noncommercial driver, the temptation to get there a little faster is always present for the driver behind the wheel. Sometimes we get caught in the act, and other times we can speed along without concern. But when we do get caught, knowing how to navigate through the system is the key to keeping your driving record clean.
Q. I received a ticket for speeding 81 mph in a 55 mph zone in Virginia. However, the officer wrote the citation for reckless driving. Is this correct?
A. Yes. Virginia, like many states, has a statute that addresses speeding that amounts to what the state considers to be reckless driving by speed. In this case, you are governed by two definitions. The first definition is exceeding the posted speed limit by 20 miles per hour, and the second is exceeding 80 miles per hour, regardless of the posted speed limit.
Q. Reckless by speed is really just another version of a speeding ticket isn’t it?
A. Absolutely not. The violation is actually a reckless driving charge and not a speeding ticket at all. Thus, the maximum penalties are more severe and a conviction can result in one year of jail time, six-month license suspension, $2,500 fine, and six points in Virginia. If you are not licensed in Virginia, then you also have to worry about what your licensing state will do once they receive notification of a conviction of reckless driving.
Of course, we don’t always see the maximum penalties enforced, and often the charge can be negotiated to a nonreckless driving charge, so that any jail time or license suspension issues are no longer relevant. However, every prosecutor and judge may have their own policies with regard to speeding thresholds, which may come into play as well.
Q. I have a CDL but was driving my personal vehicle when I received a speeding ticket. Will it be easier to get a break since I wasn’t driving a commercial vehicle?
A. It depends. In some cases, it may be easier to obtain a good plea bargain if you were not in a commercial vehicle at the time. However, in most cases the citation will reflect that you are a CDL holder and depending on the prosecutor or the judge they may have higher expectations because of your CDL status. Also, if you do have a CDL, then the Federal Motor Carrier Safety Regulations must be reviewed to make sure you are not going to be assessed a “serious” violation conviction for a violation that you received while operating a noncommercial vehicle.
Q. I received a speeding citation in my personal vehicle and would like to take traffic school for a dismissal of the charge. Can I do this if offered by the court?
A. Usually the answer is no if you have a CDL. In almost all of the states that offer traffic school, it is only intended for noncommercial drivers. If you try to use this remedy, it will more than likely be discovered by the court clerk and or the department of motor vehicles that you are a CDL holder, which will eventually negate your eligibility, resulting in a conviction of the original charge. Further, you will have wasted your time and money by pursuing this option. The only time you may be able to get away with traffic school is if the officer makes a mistake and lists you as a non-CDL holder, the vehicle is a noncommercial vehicle, and the completion of a traffic school does not get transmitted to your DMV, where someone may cross-reference that you are a CDL holder. LL
Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or contact us via Roadlaw.net.
This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone’s legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.