Category: Questions

How To Choose A Good Lawyer For A Traffic Violation

How To Choose A Good Lawyer For A Traffic Violation

If you have been involved in a traffic incident and you are headed to court, it is a good idea to have a lawyer by your side. You could contest it by yourself, but lawyers know the ins and outs of the judicial system and will be able to help you get a fair hearing. Even if you are not going to court, but you feel that you have been treated unfairly, a lawyer can help. If you are unsure of how to choose a good lawyer to assist you with the legal proceedings from your traffic ticket, the following are some good ideas:

Get A Recommendation

Getting a recommendation from someone who you know and trust could very well be one of your best resources. If a friend or family member had to deal with a similar situation, they might have a lawyer that they would recommend you use or not use. You want to be sure that you are getting a good recommendation, so only ask someone who you think will, in fact, be honest and have your best interest in mind. If you know someone in the legal field, they could also be a good resource to turn to so that you can get a good lawyer that deals with traffic issues.

Do Research

Whether you have some good recommendations or not, you can turn to the internet for more information. You can either look up the lawyers that were recommended to you so that you find out more specifics about their area of specialties, or you can search for lawyers from scratch. When you find each website, take some time to read through all the details. Some questions that you should get answered are:

  • What type of education does each lawyer have?
  • Where are they located?
  • Do they handle the traffic issue that you are presenting?
  • How long have they been in business?
  • Looking at their website, do you feel comfortable contacting them?

Contact

After you have found a lawyer or two that you feel will do a good job for you, you should contact them directly. Whether you want to do that by phone, or in person is up to you. The benefit of contacting them by telephone first is that you can set up an appointment to see them in person so that they are sure to be in the office when you show up. If there were any questions remaining after you checked out the lawyer’s website, you can ask those questions during your visit. Talking to the lawyer personally will give you a greater sense of whether or not you feel comfortable with each particular lawyer and the services they are offering you. If anything doesn’t feel quite right, don’t be afraid to ask them about it. You want the best representation that you can get.

Finding a lawyer that will help you with a traffic violation can be done fairly quickly. By getting a recommendation, doing research on the internet, knowing the right questions to ask, and contacting each lawyer that you find, you can end up with the best lawyer for your situation.

How to Handle A Reckless Driving Ticket

How to Handle A Reckless Driving Ticket

A reckless driving ticket can affect your driving record and negatively influence your life in many ways.  You may lose your license if the ticket is bad enough.  Your monthly insurance payment will likely go up once your insurance company discovers the ticket.  It is important to your future when you find yourself dealing with a ticket such as this that you take the right steps to protect yourself and defend your rights as a citizen.  The first step to defending yourself is better understanding the charges brought against you.

Reckless Driving

There are several different types of reckless driving that you may be charged with.

  • By speed
  • Driving that is life threatening
  • Failure to control your vehicle

The laws in each state will set the limitations for the type of ticket you receive.  Many states have laws that set limits on what speed you must be going to receive a reckless speeding ticket.  Once you have surpassed these limits, if you are pulled over, you will receive the ticket for reckless speeding.

Reckless driving can also be charged when the lives of those in your car or the lives of others are threatened.  This can be a speed that is too high, not controlling your vehicle, or anything else that threatens the lives of those around you.  If you are caught doing any of these things, the officer who pulls you over is likely to issue you a reckless driving ticket for endangering lives.

You may also receive a reckless driving ticket if you are unable to control your vehicle.  Whether you are having problems with your car, or are impaired to the point that you cannot drive for some reason, any time you are unable to control your car you run the risk of receiving a reckless driving ticket.

Defending Yourself

The consequences of each type of reckless driving ticket can be severe.  It is important to your future that you are able to defend yourself and reduce the charges and fine if at all possible.  Your first step when you receive a ticket is to consult an attorney to figure out your options.  An attorney with experience in this area will be able to counsel you as to the right steps to take and your chances of victory.

The first step of your attorney will be to identify the charges that have been placed against you.  Your lawyer will work to better understand what happened and what the problem was.  Once your attorney has researched the charges and understands the problem, they will begin the second step.

The second step for your attorney will be to get the charges reduced or dismissed depending on the evidence in your case.  In order to save you from jail time or from a large fine, your attorney will do all they can to ensure that you receive the minimum fine and penalty.  If you are innocent of the charges, they will do what they can to have the charges completely dropped.

Whether you were driving recklessly or are wrongfully accused, defending yourself from the beginning can make a huge difference in your future driving privileges and the rest of your life.  Be sure to properly know your rights before you find yourself in this situation.

If you have been charged with reckless driving and would like to discuss your charge with one of our experienced attorneys, please give us a call at 804-355-8037.  We will give you a free consultation and can discuss our strategy for achieving the best possible outcome in your case.

Other Related Information:
Frequently Asked Questions About Reckless Driving
Is Reckless Driving a Felony?
What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?

What To Do When You Are Involved In A Traffic Accident

What To Do When You Are Involved In A Traffic Accident

Getting into an automobile accident will almost always be a frightening experience. It will certainly be frustrating and will most likely become expensive. However, with some advance preparation and by following a few steps, you may find that surviving a car accident is possible, even under the worst conditions.

Chesterfield County, Virginia reckless driving
Scene of the reckless driving accident in Chesterfield County, VA

How to Prepare Before an Accident Happens

Whether you have one car or several, each one of your automobiles should be outfitted with some emergency supplies and an emergency safety kit. There are a few things such as a spare tire, an owner’s manual, and paperwork, such as the registration and insurance information, that are probably kept in your car at all times. There are several other items to include, however, that will make your response to an accident easier or could even save your life in certain situations.

  • Jack, jumper cables, sealant for tires, filled toolbox, important fluids, fuses, spare headlamps, gas can
  • Emergency blanket, bottled water, snack food, fire extinguisher, gloves, first aid kit, auto escape tool
  • Paper, pen, emergency contact phone numbers, cell phone, battery-powered radio
  • Flashlight, fire extinguisher, duct tape, flares

Step-by-step Response to an Accident

  1. Safely Stop Your Car

It is illegal all over the country to leave the scene of an accident. So, whether you bumped another car while parking, you were rear-ended on a highway, or you involved in a major pile-up, always find a safe place to park and promptly pull over. This doesn’t mean that you can leave the scene and park a mile away, either. Just be sure that you have moved out of traffic and that you aren’t creating another dangerous situation. If you are tempted to just drive off, remember that you could be held legally and criminally liable if you leave.

  1. Get Help For Anyone With Injuries

When you are involved in a multiple person accident, you are somewhat responsible for the welfare of everyone else who was involved. You must proceed with caution, however. Begin by asking the other people if they are okay. If anyone has been hurt, call 911 or the police to get professional assistance. If you attempt to administer any time of medical care without the appropriate training, you could cause a great deal of damage. This will only make a bad situation worse.

  1. Call the Police

If there are no injuries, you will still need to contact the police. These officials will talk to the different people involved in the accident and may have questions for any witnesses. Most of the time, you won’t be able to get payments or assistance from you insurance company without the official police report. No matter how small you may feel the damage to your own car is, you will need to involve the police. This step will protect all of the parties and is vital to receiving coverage through your insurance company.

  1. Gather Information

As you share your information and gather information from the other people involved, it will be very important that you share and receive the following five pieces of information:

  • First and last names
  • Current addresses, phone numbers and other contact information
  • License plate numbers and driver’s license numbers
  • Name of the insurance companies and contact information
  • Make, model and year of the other involved cars
  • A record of the time and date of the accident, the location of the accident, the types of injuries and how bad the injuries appeared
  • Name and badge identification for the police officers who are at the scene of the accident

If you have the resources available, you may want to snap a few pictures of the accident and the area where the accident occurred. If any court proceedings result from the accident, you will be glad that you were prepared with the added information.

  1. Get Medical Attention

Even if you are feeling fine right after the accident, it is important that you get medical attention. You may want to head into a local hospital or you might be able to schedule a visit with your primary medical care giver. Hopefully, you will be given a clean bill of health. However, if you begin to suffer from symptoms which are a result of the accident and you had NOT visited with a doctor, then you probably won’t get any kind of assistance from your insurance company.

Prevention Is the Safest Course

The very best way to survive an accident is to prevent one from occurring. This isn’t possible in all situations, but you can take some steps to make it more likely. Consider enrolling in a defensive driving class or consulting with your auto insurance provider. These are two great resources for finding information about safe driving, being prepared for an accident and how to best respond.

Drive safely!

 

How to Avoid The Five Most Common Avoidable Driving Mistakes

How to Avoid The Five Most Common Avoidable Driving Mistakes

Fatal driving accidents happen every day. In fact, statistics show that nearly 6.3 million car accidents occur yearly. Although not every accident is necessarily avoidable, there are many car accidents that could have been prevented if drivers learned how to avoid the following common driving mistakes.

1 – Driving Arrogance  

The fact that you have not been in a major car accident in the past does not give you the right to do things that you wouldn’t recommend for “poor drivers”. Every driver is vulnerable, including you. Most of the people out on the road most likely consider themselves “good drivers”, yet accidents continue to happen. If every driver learned how to avoid driving arrogance, the rest of this list would cease to exist. Almost all car accidents happen because of the root concern that a driver is over confident and is doing something they shouldn’t.

To avoid overconfidence and dangerous driving arrogance, heed all driving codes and safe driving tips, even if you feel like you don’t need to. Even if you beat all odds and are a perfect driver, you cannot change the driving habits of others on the road that may cause potential threats. If you aren’t giving your driving 100% of your attention, you may find yourself in a major accident. Avoid overconfidence and follow every safety measure while driving.

2 – Multitasking

Overconfident drivers often fall into a trap of multitasking. Although you might be asked to multitask in the workplace, multitasking on the road can prove fatal. The simple task of drinking out of a water bottle, or reaching for your phone, could create a huge distraction. Multitasking can be especially dangerous when traveling at high speeds when large distances are covered in a matter of seconds. Consider what could happen during that moment of distraction.

To avoid multitasking, prepare before you start the car. If you need to make a phone call, do it while you are parked. Though it shouldn’t need to be stated, never text while driving. Give the task of driving all of your attention to avoid careless and preventable accidents.

3 – Loose Items

The National Safety Council attributes 13,000 car accident related injuries each year to loose or fallen items in the car. At high speeds, loose items can quickly become threatening projectiles. When accidents occur, these items may prove very dangerous.

Preventing these types of problems is easy. Simply keep your car free from unnecessary “junk”. If you do need to bring supplies or other items with you, place them safely in the trunk.

4 – Driving Under The Influence Of Alcohol Or Fatigue

It hopefully goes without saying that driving under the influence of alcohol is a definite no. Many drivers, however, don’t understand the important of driving alertness. If you are drowsy, you should not be driving. Fatigue causes you to be impaired just as much as anything else.

5 – Neglecting To Look Both Ways

When you learn to drive, you are constantly reminded to “look both ways”. This rule often becomes forgotten when drivers have been in the car too long. It doesn’t matter if you are the only person at an intersection: look both ways every time.  Your life may depend on it. When you consider how many drivers “accidentally” drive through a red light, it is important to look even when the light is green. You can never be too careful.

Conclusion

As you learn how to drive carefully and with 100% of your attention, you can avoid many common driving mistakes.

Will my license be suspended if I get convicted of a DUI/DWI?

If so, will I be able to drive at all?

As traffic and DUI lawyers in Virginia, we constantly hear from clients that they feel like Virginia’s DUI/DWI punishments are too heavy. In addition to certain mandatory jail sentences for certain DUI convictions and mandatory ignition interlock requirements, clients often express their fear that they will lose their job or not be able to take their kids to school if they get convicted of a DUI.

While it is certainly true that Virginia’s DUI laws can be among the toughest in the country, a good DUI lawyer can help you, even if you get convicted of the DUI charge. Under Virginia law, someone who gets convicted of a first offense DUI gets his or her license suspended for one full year (second or subsequent offense DUI convictions carry longer license suspensions and different time-frames for obtaining a restricted driver’s license). They can, however, request that the judge grant them a restricted driver’s license. In Virginia, judges have the authority to grant restricted driving privileges for certain purposes. For example, they may allow a person convicted of a DUI to drive to and from work, or even during work hours for work purposes. They may also allow them to drive to and from their children’s schools, day cares and medical appointments. Although Virginia law does not permit a judge to grant someone convicted of a DUI the ability to drive to and from grocery stores, they can allow them to drive to and from one religious service each week and to their own medical appointments or those medical appointments for their parents or an elderly person in their care.

And while Virginia law authorizes a judge to grant these restricted driving privileges (and a few others), the decision to grant any or all of them ultimately lies in the discretion of the judge. In fact, different judges throughout Virginia handle these matters differently. Some judges grant restricted driving privileges to those convicted of a DUI for any and all legal and approvable purposes. Other judges, analyze each request independently and make a decision concerning each request. As a result, it is imperative to hire an attorney who not only knows the law concerning DUI restricted licenses, but who also handles a lot of DUI cases in the jurisdiction in which your case is pending. An attorney needs to be able to persuasively and professionally get the broadest restricted license possible, in the event you get convicted of the DUI. After all, oftentimes your job and many aspects of your personal life depend on your ability to drive even with a suspended driver’s license.

As Viginia DUI attorneys we are dedicated to constantly pursuing the very best result in a DUI case for our clients. Sometimes, that advocacy can result in a dismissal of the charge. Other times, it results in the DUI being reduced to a lesser offense. And still yet, at times it means working diligently to get our client the very broadest restricted license possible. We handle a large number of DUI/DWI cases throughout central Virginia, including Richmond, Hanover County, Henrico County, Spotsylvania County, Caroline County, New Kent County, King George County, Goochland County, Powhatan County, Chesterfield County, Colonial Heights, Sussex County, Prince George County, Hopewell, and Dinwiddie County.

If you or someone you know gets arrested for DUI/DWI, please feel free to call the attorneys at Weiland Upton, PLLC, at (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation.

How Does a Virginia DUI Conviction Affect My Insurance

How Does a Virginia DUI Conviction Affect My Insurance

If you are charged with a DUI in Virginia, there are many things to consider. You must consider your possibility of jail time, fines, suspension of your driving privileges in Virginia, and who to hire as your attorney, but you must also consider the consequences a conviction would have on your auto insurance. The reality is that a DUI conviction can have a very significant effect on your insurance in Virginia.

Virginia Speeding Ticket Attorneys

What is an FR44?

In Virginia, a person convicted on DUI charges is required to file an FR44, which is basically a guarantee to the Virginia DMV that “High Risk” drivers are maintaining the required auto insurance coverage. Your insurance liability limits must be equal to or greater than $50,000 per person, $100,000 per accident, and $40,000 for property damage. It also means that if you cancel your policy, the DMV is notified, your license is re-suspended, more fines are imposed, and the timing for the FR44 is reset. Virginia requires most DUI offenders to file an FR44 for three years.

How do I file an FR44?

If a Virginia court informs you that you need to file an FR44, you will need to contact your insurance provider. If you do not have insurance, you will need to buy an insurance policy before having your Virginia driving privilege reinstated. Sometimes, drivers convicted of a DUI in Virginia who need to buy a new insurance policy to file an FR44 will be required to pay for an insurance policy term in full. This is to ensure the driver meets the Virginia requirements for the term’s duration while avoiding the risk of a non-payment policy cancellation.

How will my insurance be affected by my DUI conviction and FR44 filing?

Many major insurance companies will not insure persons required to file an FR44. Most insurance carriers who will insure FR44 drivers will do so at a higher premium, possibly even 40-70% higher than other drivers.

Therefore it is critical to have an attorney who is extremely familiar with Virginia’s DUI law if you find yourself charged with a DUI. Attorneys at Weiland Upton dedicate a great deal of our practice to defending people charged with DUI in Central Virginia.

What Is Reckless Driving in Virginia?

You are driving down a Virginia interstate headed to vacation in the mountains or at the beach.  The sun is out and the Virginia pine trees are beautiful.  All of a sudden, while you are taking in this sunny Virginia day you notice blue lights flashing behind you.  It’s a Virginia state trooper or some other Virginia law enforcement officer pulling you over.  “I must be going a little too fast,” you say to yourself as you pull into the right emergency shoulder.  You didn’t realize that you were going about eleven or twelve miles per hour over the speed limit, which you noticed earlier is seventy miles per hour.  The officer approaches your vehicle, explains that you were going a little too fast and heads back to his patrol car to write you a summons.  “Just my luck,” you think to yourself.  “Only I could get a speeding ticket on my way to vacation.”  While waiting for the officer to finish handling his paperwork in his car, you contemplate how much money this ticket is going to cost you, how many points you’ll receive on your driving record and, most importantly, how much your auto insurance rates are going to increase over this little mistake. 12559901_blog

But then the moment of surprise comes.  The officer approaches your vehicle again, this time with some papers in his hand.  He tells you he wrote you for going eighty-two miles per hour in a seventy mile per hour zone, and as a result he wrote you for Reckless Driving rather than simple speeding.  “Reckless Driving?  What does that mean?,” you ask the officer.  He explains to you that Reckless Driving is a Class 1 Misdemeanor criminal offense instead of a traffic infraction and that you must appear in Court on the appropriate date to deal with the charge.

You are shocked, to say the least.  You can’t believe it.  How could driving twelve miles per hour over the speed limit be anything but a simple speeding ticket, much less a crime?

As attorneys who handle a large number of Reckless Driving cases in central-Virginia, this scenario, and these questions, are very similar to those we confront regularly with clients and prospective clients.  Those clients and prospective clients are often surprised when we inform them that the officer was right, and that, in fact, there are several ways that a person can be charged with, and convicted of, Reckless Driving in Virginia.

Under Virginia law there are a couple common ways a person can face a charge of Reckless Driving.  By far the most common way is the situation described above.  It is often referred to as Reckless Driving by Speed.  In Virginia, anyone driving twenty miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit, or, over eighty miles per hour (regardless of the speed limit) has committed the offense of Reckless Driving.  As many judges often explain in courthouses throughout Virginia, this particular type of Reckless Driving has absolutely nothing to do with the manner of driving (such as swerving, driving aggressively or passing in an unsafe manner, etc…).  Rather, it is the speed, and speed alone, that causes one to be charged with, and ultimately convicted of, Reckless Driving.

The other common way in which people get charged with Reckless Driving in Virginia is when an accident occurs, or almost occurs.  Under Virginia law, a person who drives in a reckless manner or “in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.”  Unlike Reckless Driving by Speed this particular type of Reckless Driving has everything to do with the person’s manner of driving.  Some common examples of situations where Virginia judges find Reckless Driving is when the person is driving while playing with the radio or GPS, driving while texting or talking on the phone, or falling asleep behind the wheel due to fatigue.  Likewise, driving too fast for road conditions after it has rained or snowed, weaving or swerving in and out of traffic, or weaving excessively within one’s lane can be deemed Reckless Driving.  Although the above are examples of behavior often considered Reckless Driving it is certainly not exhaustive.  Moreover, while it is often the case that Reckless Driving is charged when these behaviors result in an accident, it is clearly not the case that an accident must occur in order to be convicted of this charge.

Finally, while all of the instances discussed above are common ways people get charged with, and convicted of, Reckless Driving in Virginia, Virginia law also provides for many other ways in which a Reckless Driving charge can be successfully prosecuted.  For a more extensive list, feel free to visit the Virginia DMV website at http://www.dmvnow.com/drivers/#points_6.asp.

It is also important to note that as stated earlier, Reckless Driving is not merely a traffic infraction like a speeding ticket.  In fact, it is a criminal offense that can carry very stiff penalties.  It is a Class 1 Misdemeanor, and the maximum penalty upon being convicted of Reckless Driving is a $2500 fine, twelve month jail sentence, and a 6 month loss of your privilege to drive in Virginia.

At Weiland Upton we dedicate a great deal of our practice to handling cases for clients charged with Reckless Driving.  Although each jurisdiction and judge is different, we are often successful at getting Reckless Driving charges dismissed or reduced to more minor charges for clients.

Weiland Upton is a leading firm of Virginia reckless driving lawyers.

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

We handle Reckless Driving Cases in the Following Locations: