Stafford County Traffic Lawyer
On the surface, some Virginia traffic offenses might not seem all that serious, but others could send you to jail. If you are charged with a misdemeanor or felony as a result of a traffic offense, you are facing criminal allegations. Even if you’re charged with only a moving violation, the ramifications may still threaten your driving privileges. Conviction on any violation may impact how much you pay for auto insurance coverage. This is why it’s a good idea to consult with a Stafford County traffic lawyer if you’ve been cited for any traffic violation.
A Reckless Driving Ticket Is a Serious Matter
All reckless driving offenses are viewed as posing greater danger to lives and property than traditional moving violations. This is why the General Assembly made it a class1 misdemeanor criminal offense. There are at least 13 reckless distinct driving charges. The most common of those offenses include:
- Two serious speeding offenses [Virginia Code Sections 46.2-861 and 2-862]
- Driving a vehicle that is not under control [ Section 46.2-853]
- Passing at a railroad crossing [ Section 46.2-858] or passing a stopped school bus [Section 46.2-859].
All Virginia reckless driving violations are class 1 misdemeanors. If you are convicted, you could sentenced to up to twelve (12) months in county jail. You could also be ordered to pay a fine of as much as $2,500, though that often depends on the specific reckless driving charge for which you are convicted [Sections 46.2-868 and 18.2-11(a)]. Consult a Stafford County traffic lawyer for further consultation about whether your unique case carries the possibility of an active jail sentence. Reckless driving also comes with six Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) demerit points, which remain on your driving record for 11 years.
Some “Pay and Leave” Tickets Have Lesser Penalties
More traditional speeding tickets don’t require you to appear, meaning that you may prepay and not have to go to court, but you will get demerit points on your DMV record. The maximum fine for a speeding ticket is $250 by statute (though the prepayment amount is typically lower) and a conviction will add three, four, or six points, depending on how fast you were driving over the limit. These points remain on your DMV record for five years, and if you accumulate enough points within a period of time (12 points in a year, or 18 in two), the DMV may suspend your license.
If you begin accumulating demerit points at a rate that catches the attention of the DMV, you may receive a warning letter or be required to complete a mandatory driver improvement program. Failure to complete the course in a timely manner as required will result in suspension. You may also receive a letter informing you that you are on probation. A Stafford County traffic lawyer can help you understand DMV regulations and potentially help you obtain a restricted license if you are administratively suspended. There’s no guarantee that this will happen, though, so, the fewer points against you, the lower the likelihood that you will lose your license if you are convicted of a “high point” offense.
“No License” Violations
Driving in Virginia without a valid driver’s license or with a suspended or revoked license is serious. All of these violations are are prosecuted aggressively, and if found guilty, punished as criminal misdemeanors.
Driving without a valid driver’s license – A first offense is a class 2 misdemeanor, which could bring a jail sentence of up to six months and a maximum fine of $1,000 or both. Subsequent violations are class 1 misdemeanors punishable by fines up to $2,500 and up to a year in jail [Section 46.2-300].
Driving with a suspended or revoked driver’s license – This is also a class 1 misdemeanor (up to a year in jail and/or up to a $2,500 fine). A third offense for driving after suspension or revocation is particularly harsh with a mandatory minimum jail sentence of 10 days required. [Section 46.2-301]. Subsequent offenses after a third are likely to bring even more loss of liberty.
Those convicted of any of the above offenses are subject to varying lengths of driver’s license suspensions (or extension of existing suspensions or revocations). If the violator does not have a valid license, or if their license is revoked, there may be time limits imposed before they may apply for a driver’s license. And if the violator is found to be a habitual offender of any of the above statutes, his or her vehicle may be impounded [§ 46.2-301.1]
Driving privileges are essential in today’s fast-paced world. When those privileges are threatened by a serious ticket or accumulation of DMV points that could lead to a license suspension, the charges should be challenged or at least mitigated, in order to minimize the threat to your continued ability to drive. No matter the situation, a Stafford County traffic attorney can often lessen the blow when you are facing a serious traffic charge and we can help you continue on the road.