Often when people receive traffic tickets or commit driving infractions such as speeding or reckless driving, they just pay the fine and forget about what happened. But in Virginia, the punishment can be severe in some instances and previous traffic infractions on a driving record may enhance future penalties.
It is wise to seek the counsel of an experienced Virginia traffic ticket defense lawyer to understand your rights and everything that may be at stake, to help you decide whether and how to fight the charges, and to develop a defense. If your situation involves a court appearance, your attorney can help you understand what will happen and whether you should have him or her there to represent you. An experienced defense lawyer can also assist with developing the evidence and investigating on your behalf.
You should be particularly concerned if you are a repeat offender, if someone was hurt by your actions, if you or your loved one is under 18 or if your drivers license is commercial.
Depending on the severity of the traffic violation and your previous record, punishment and other negative consequences may include:
- Jail time
- Community service
- Suspended or revoked drivers license
- Ignition interlock device installation (mobile breath test)
- Vehicle forfeiture
- Increased car insurance premiums
- Required classes like those on aggressive driving or alcohol safety
- Points on your license
Virginia's Points System
Like some other states, Virginia has a point system that assigns safe driving points and demerit points to driving records. Demerit points may earn a license suspension or require a driver improvement class, and they stay on a record for two years from the offense commission date. Traffic offense convictions earn demerit points with varying severities.
- Six-point violation examples: reckless driving by speeding over 80 mph, driving while intoxicated, refusing chemical testing, vehicular manslaughter, driving with a suspended or revoked license, attempting to elude police, passing stopped school bus
- Four-point violation examples: unsafe passing, following too closely, failing to yield right-of-way, driving the wrong way on a one-way street, blocking a funeral procession, aggressive driving, failing to stop at a railroad grade crossing, improper signaling
- Three-point violation examples: speeding 1 to 9 mph over the limit; changing course after signaling, drinking while driving, driving with earphones, driving without a license, failing to dim headlights, driving on a sidewalk, improperly turning
In addition to Virginia traffic violations, out-of-state traffic infractions can also add points to Virginia driving records.
For every calendar year that a licensed driver receives no traffic violations, one safe driving point is earned, as well as for some driver improvement clinic attendance. Safe points offset demerit points. The point system is another good reason to drive safely and fight traffic citations.