As many of you already know, Virginia’s Reckless Driving by Speed (RDS) statute changed July 1, 2020. The new RDS statute raised the speed threshold from 81 mph to 86 mph. This change obviously has ramifications for law offices across Virginia that provide RDS defense.
The number of RDS tickets written will decrease, which has the potential to impact the bottom line. But this change also offers opportunities, as do all developments, if you know how to look at things in the proper light.
Most practitioners’ first reaction to the new RDS law is one of concern – it stands to reason, that with the changed threshold for RDS, LEOs will write fewer tickets. This is not necessarily the case. There will undoubtedly be at least some trade-off, because drivers who are aware of this change might very well increase their speeds thinking they have more of a “grace area” with officers. Let’s be honest: We know some of our potential clients will continue to push the envelope, regardless of what the threshold is – so this tendency will mitigate against predictions that the absolute numbers of RDS tickets will decrease dramatically as a result of the RDS change. Clients who push the envelope, will at least partially, offset any such decrease.
More to the point, the RDS tickets that are written with the new threshold will be cases that already existed and made up the bulk of actual legal work to begin with. We all are aware of the common reaction potential clients have when they were charged with speeds of 81, or even 85, in a 70 zone: “I can’t believe the judge is going to find me guilty of a crime for going 11 or 15 mph over the speed limit, so I’m going to go to court on my own. But, thanks you for your time!” As a result, we are finding that most of our profitable clients were charged with 86+. Cases under the previous regime already required more work on the lawyers’ part, convincing potential clients to hire. It may now be easier to convince potential clients that the new RDS statute will mean that judges will be less likely to listen to pro se defendants’ usual explanations/excuses. After all, 86 mph has always been more difficult to defend than 81 mph, and at least some potential clients will see that and be more likely to engage a specialist to handle the case then has been true in the past.
So, be of stout heart, and whatever you do, DON’T REDUCE YOUR MARKETING EFFORTS! Regardless of the effects of this change, RDS will continue to be a “hot” area of the law in Virginia, and in a year or so, we will probably look back at the results of the change and wonder why we were worried in the first place.
As always, we at Commonwealth Attorney Marketing Service (CAMS) are ready to assist you with any of your marketing needs. The change in the RDS statute provides a good reason to review your marketing plan and make necessary adjustments. Call Joshua Justice at (804) 277-2785 and we can work with you to maximize your marketing dollar.