Out of-State Drivers who Have a Reckless Driving Ticket in Virginia, Beware Hiring an Out-of-State Attorney.

The other day in one of my local general district courts, I became aware of a case where a person from another state received a reckless driving misdemeanor ticket here in Virginia. The attorney from the driver’s home state sent a letter to the court saying that they had been retained and were entering a plea of not guilty on behalf of their client.

There are many things wrong with this scenario.

1. An out-of-state attorney cannot practice law in Virginia. In order to practice law in a given state, you have to be licensed by that state’s appropriate licensing authority to be an attorney and practice law. An attorney who is not licensed in Virginia has no authority to practice law in Virginia unless they’re admitted pro hac vice, which means for a single matter; but to do that, you would have to have local counsel in Virginia, and it’s actually quite complicated. For a reckless driving misdemeanor ticket, it’s just something that would not normally be done. That kind of activity would be done on complex multi-million dollar litigation perhaps, but not for a more routine reckless driving misdemeanor case.

2. If you’re facing a reckless driving ticket, you need a local attorney who knows what’s going on. In the letter in question in this case, the attorney even referenced the case caption as People v. John Doe. In other words, the attorney simply did not even know that in Virginia, we don’t have the “People”; it’s the Commonwealth who is prosecuting the case. It’s not the DA representing the people like you might have seen on Law and Order. It’s the Commonwealth’s attorney who represents the Commonwealth, and they are the plaintiff, so to speak, in a misdemeanor offense.

More importantly, an out-of-state attorney really would simply have no clue to what possible defenses there might be on a reckless driving case in Virginia. Even if the attorney is experienced handling traffic cases in their home state and maybe even the best attorney there, the state laws and evidence procedures and different subtleties differ so much among states that it would be very difficult for an out-of-state attorney to be well-versed on a reckless driving case. Even if they had ample time to prepare, it simply is so different that it’s reckless for an attorney to try to take on a matter like that.

But even more frightening, even if an attorney could spend enough time to bone up and learn all the subtleties about how to handle a reckless driving case in Virginia, they still are not going to have any relationships with the local players involved with the case, such as the officer, the judge, and if they’re involved in the case, the Commonwealth attorney. Hiring an out-of-state person is, I would suggest, even much worse than trying to hire someone from further away in Virginia. Whereas a Virginia person might have at least some connection to a local area, someone from another state several states away likely has zero connection to the court and the players where your case is being heard. In many traffic cases, that can be very important to helping you try to get a good outcome for your case.

3. With the Internet these days, there’s simply no reason to even need to hire your local attorney from back home. Perhaps used to, you might not have any way of finding out who you can hire to handle your case in a far-away place; but with the Internet now, it’s so easy to find a local who handles cases in that area such as myself, and you can do your due diligence on that person. You can look up the attorney on Google, on Avvo, on Yelp, and find real reviews from clients to at least have some amount of knowledge about how that attorney is going to handle your case and whether or not it’s a wise choice. With that at your disposal, it simply makes no sense to hire someone from many states away who might not have any clue how to handle a case in Virginia.

If you’re facing a reckless driving charge in Virginia and you reside out of state, call me so we can discuss the facts of your case. We can discuss how things will go down in the court where your case is pending, and of course I can help direct you to places where you can do your due diligence on me and know that I’m not a scam, I’m not a fraud, and that I believe client service is one of the most important things that we do every day.

Photo by: davidrossharris

Andrew Flusche

My name is Andrew Flusche. I am a traffic and misdemeanor defense lawyer in Virginia. I limit my practice to traffic tickets and misdemeanor defense, so I know the ins and outs of these offenses. I literally wrote the book on reckless driving in Virginia which you can get on Amazon here or download for free here. I opened my practice in 2008 after earning my Juris Doctor degree from the University of Virginia School of Law. Since then, I have earned over 600 5-star reviews from happy clients on Google, Yelp, and Facebook. If you’ve been charged with a misdemeanor offense in Virginia, please don’t hesitate to contact me. Your initial consultation is always free, and you'll talk directly with me about the details of your case.

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