I know I am a little late to reply here, but I had a court date yesterday regarding a reckless driving summons and would like to share my experience.
My situation was similar to yours - the car in front of me (in the left lane) was going 60 in what I thought was a 65 zone. It was actually 55, so totally my bad there. I accelerated and passed him on the right. As I moved in front of him and eased off the gas to slow down some, I saw the VSP car in the median. I looked down and the needle was crossing over 80. He started to pull out so I immediately moved onto the shoulder and stopped. He probably drove less than 100 feet. (In fact, the first thing he said was "Thanks for pulling over so quickly.")
The Trooper advised I was going 81 in a 55 and asked if there was any reason for my speed. I politely replied that there was no good excuse, and that I had just passed a slower moving vehicle in the left lane. He took my license and registration and went back to the car. Now a little background on me: I am a former police officer (county) from VA no less... I believe in honesty, integrity, and am not the type of person that would try and use that to get out of anything. Fact: what I did was illegal and I was caught. The VSP have a reputation amongst other police departments for writing everyone - including officers. So I completely expected (and deserved/earned) my summons. The Trooper came back, issued the summons for Reckless Driving 81/55 and asked if I had any questions.
I noticed that my court date was just over a month away, meaning he didn't schedule a pre-trial for me. A pretrial is used for anyone with a charge that could potentially receive jail time, and is usually 5 - 14 days away from the date of the offense. (At a pretrial, the judge formally advises you of your charges, advises you of your right to hire or have an attorney appointed to you, and then advises you of your next hearing.) Reckless Driving is in fact a Class 1 misdemeanor. Class 1 misdemeanors are punishable by confinement up to 12 months, and a fine of up to $2500. Either or both! In the county I used to work for (much farther south), reckless driving was commonly dropped it if was a first offense and the violator completed a driver improvement course. I asked the Trooper if that was an option for me. The Trooper sounded as if my reckless driving offense was no big deal. He advised that he looked at my current MD record and my previous VA record and both were empty. He advised that the best thing for me to do would be to just come to court, and that my driving record plus my attitude with him combined that the charge would likely be reduced. He said it would be unnecessary to take the driving course as reckless driving in VA is hardly ever dropped.
My biggest concern was still the class 1 misdemeanor, even though I wasn't pretrialed. There was still a chance I could show up on my regular date and if the judge thought I needed jail time he would pretrial me that day and set my court date forward another month. I ended up doing some searching online and found The Gordon Law Firm. I called them Monday morning (received the summons Saturday afternoon) and spoke at length with one of their attorneys for a free consult. After hearing everything, he basically advised I was a best case scenario. He was honest enough and basically said I really didn't need an attorney but that he would be happy to represent me. I appreciated his honesty. Some good information passed along to me:
-Jail time is typically only given out in Fairfax if you are in excess of 90 mph.
-Asking to speak with the Commonwealth's Attorney is basically ignored unless you have legal representation.
-Points from Virginia don't transfer to Maryland unless there is a fatality involved.
Since I live out of state, and didn't want to risk the class 1 misdemeanor on my record because I have a government clearance and could potentially lose my job, I hired the lawyer. I was charged $500, but I got the impression by the tone of his voice that would have been negotiable had I tried. I signed a form advising that I wanted him to represent me in court, and was told I didn't need to be there - only if I wanted to be. What? The lawyer advised that even if I showed up in a suit and was the most polite person there, it wouldn't make a difference. So rather than take time off from work, I trusted the lawyer to represent me in my absence.
My disposition: The charge was amended to "Failure to Obey a Highway Sign". $125 fine plus $62 court costs. FYI if you want to pay by credit/debit card online there is a 4% "convenience fee".
Overall I'm happy with the results, even if I just paid to have someone "stand in my place" in court. Driving down to and around DC on a Tuesday morning the week of Thanksgiving was not the most appealing idea.
Is this a revenue generator for Fairfax? You'd better believe it. Whoever mentioned the letters you'd get in the mail was right. I received at least 20... some had some clever marketing. In one was some aspirin and a note to "help me alieve the headache I most likely was suffering from due to this legal mess". In another was one of the lawyers' self authored books on dealing with reckless driving. The envelopes they arrive in are not inconspicuous either - if any of you are young and live with your parents you might want to intercept the mail everyday for two weeks.
I haven't been an officer with Virginia since January 2012, but would be happy to offer any help or insight to anyone. I've been a car guy since I can remember, and am guilty of a little bit of a lead foot from time to time. I was also in court a lot in my younger days in Maryland (10+ years ago) for various driving offenses (ranging from no front license plate to speed contest).