If you are an out of state driver who has received a ticket for speeding in Virginia, it is important you know how seriously your charge will be taken, and ensure that you are not facing reckless driving by speed charges, which are a criminal offense. Below, a Virginia speeding ticket lawyer discusses speeding charges in Virginia and what out of state residents should know.
The difference in Virginia from other jurisdictions is that speeding can be charged as a criminal offense for reckless driving. This is a big difference because many other jurisdictions don’t have reckless driving by speed, which means that any speed over the speed limit is always going to be charged as a traffic infraction. In Virginia however, once you’re going 20 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit or 80 miles per hour or more anywhere in the Commonwealth, then your speed rises to the level of a criminal misdemeanor, which comes with very harsh potential penalties.
If an out of state driver receives a speeding ticket in Virginia, the first thing that they should do is verify that the charge they’re being charged with is a speeding. It’s very important to analyze carefully the document that you sign to make sure that it’s not actually a summons for reckless driving. On the document, under what you’re being charged with, it usually will specify whether it’s speeding or reckless driving. If it doesn’t specify and it just says the speed, then underneath where the charge is written there is a section that says whether you have to come to court or not. If you don’t have to come to court, then it’s a traffic infraction. If the box is crossed out completely or not checked , then you’ve likely been charged with a criminal matter and your best bet would be to get a lawyer.
If an out of state driver doesn’t pay the ticket, then Virginia will forward that information to the out of state driver’s home state. The home state will do whatever their home state normally does for tickets that have not been paid. If they fail to pay the ticket within thirty (30) days of their court date, absent special circumstances, then Virginia DMV will suspend their privilege to operate a motor vehicle in Virginia.
If you’re facing a speeding ticket in Virginia, and you want to contest it, but you’re an out of state driver, a Virginia lawyer can go to court on your behalf. They can fight the charge just the same as if you were there present in person, so that you never have to come back to Virginia at all throughout this entire representation. The lawyer can save you time obviously, since you do not have to come back, and the lawyer can save you money because you don’t have to admit guilt. You have additional options even if you don’t want to go through the hassle of coming back to contest the ticket and think your only option is to prepay online.
No. It is not a defense to not be unaware of the laws. If you simply had no idea that 80 miles per hour or more is considered reckless driving, then you are completely out of luck because there is no judge in Virginia that’s going to be sympathetic to this. Ignorance of the law is not a defense for out of state drivers or for in-state drivers. The laws are in place due to safety reasons and anyone violating them is going to pay the consequences. It’s difficult for someone to argue that they didn’t know that going 10-15 miles per hour more than what the posted speed limit allows was against the law. There wouldn’t be much point to speed limit signs if that were believable.
Out of state drivers should know that speeding tickets in Virginia can rise to a much more serious level than just traffic infractions. They should know that it’s possible for someone who is just driving fast in their opinion to end up charged with a crime. Such a charge can cause a whole bunch of other issues later on down the road when the out of state driver needs to come back to the Commonwealth to appear in court.
They should also know that Virginia will forward any convictions to an out of state driver’s home state. This means they are also facing the possibility that their home state will issue its own set of consequences for the charge.
Patrick Woolley Attorney At Law