Do I Need a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Virginia?
Traffic violations and similar citations occur daily on Virginia roads. Some traffic citations will just lead to mere inconveniences since you can mail in payment of the fine and move on with your life. Most people tend to assume that is the case with all traffic violations. However, that is often not the case in Virginia. Certain traffic citations can lead to long-lasting and serious consequences, thus requiring the services of a seasoned traffic attorney in Virginia. If you want to avoid heavy fines, paying increased insurance premiums, suspension of your driver’s license and other consequences, then a traffic ticket attorney can help.
When it comes to hiring a traffic attorney, it all comes down to a cost-benefit assessment. Some people argue that hiring a traffic lawyer is too expensive, and then they forget the consequences of a conviction. Are the benefits of hiring a lawyer great than the costs? If the answer is yes, then you should not hesitate. Before you can even think of taking a plea bargain, you need to understand that some traffic violations such as reckless driving carry a criminal charge. Therefore, you might think you are doing yourself a favor by taking a plea bargain, only to end up with a permanent criminal record.
Benefits of Hiring a Traffic Attorney in Virginia
Hiring an accomplished traffic lawyer in Virginia can help you to avoid the serious consequences and penalties. A skillful lawyer can also help in case dismissal, reduction of charges and even an acquittal. However, without an experienced traffic lawyer you may not be aware of your rights in the trial, as well as the risks you are facing as you navigate the legal process. Traffic violations can lead to a spiral of negative events, which will ultimately jeopardize your ability to earn a living, pay bills or even provide for your family. It’s a risk that no one should take.
Your Traffic lawyer in Virginia is your lifeline as you navigate the justice system. Whether you are arrested for DUI, charged with reckless driving, eluding police, distracted driving or you were captured by a red light camera, a seasoned traffic lawyer in Virginia will ensure your rights are protected during the trial. They will analyze the evidence presented, as well as the facts presented in your case, to develop a solid and comprehensive legal defense.
A knowledgeable Virginia traffic lawyer who has handled other similar offenses understands the entire process. He understands your constitutional rights relevant to your traffic arrest as well as trial issues such as vehicle accident reconstruction. A professional traffic attorney also understands DUI field testing and breath analysis, stop and search protocols, as well as the scientific data required to back the facts in your case. In a situation where you were involved in an accident, a traffic lawyer will analyze all the evidence presented in your case, and they try to establish any inconsistencies, errors, and anything else they can use to present your case. As you can see, it is not just a matter of appearing in court.
A local traffic attorney can also help to tip the case in your favor, and you will not end up with criminal records or other serious penalties. Can you appear in court, face the judge, and ask for what you want? Most people facing traffic violations will not have that courage in that precise moment. The court environment itself can be intimidating especially if you have never been in that situation before. Some people simply rush to plead guilty, thus assuming the judge will be considerate and give them a break. This is kind of what we have been conditioned to do – accept responsibility and humbly accept and expect the benevolence of the judge. However, this is not always the case – especially in a court of law. If you are found guilty, you will be treated like any other traffic offender, and the penalties will apply accordingly.
An experienced lawyer will represent you in court, ask the hard questions, or even negotiate with the judge or prosecutor, depending on the circumstances of your case. Going to a trial without an attorney to represent you is like facing an exam without studying. You likely will have to live with the consequences for your whole life.
What are the Consequences of Failing to Hire a traffic Attorney?
If you get a traffic ticket for a minor offense like failing to stop at a stop sign, you might just mail the fine and move on in your life. You might accumulate a few negative points on your driver’s license. However, as long as you are more careful on the roads then you will likely forget you even paid the fine and within a year your life will continue as usual. What most people don’t understand is that traffic violations in Virginia don’t carry the same level of punishment. Virginia is known to have some of the harshest punishments when it comes to traffic violations. An offense such as reckless driving can have long-lasting and serious consequences on your life. Some Virginia residents are even caught by surprise, once they learn they may potentially be spending time in jail, just because of a traffic offense. Sometimes a defendant (almost always out of state) just pays the ticket and then a year or two later, when they can’t get the job they wanted due to the misdemeanor on their record, call me but then it’s too late! Here are some of the penalties that you might be facing, when convicted of a traffic offense such as reckless driving.
Permanent Criminal Record
While a conviction for a serious traffic violation, such as Reckless Driving, will remain on your driver’s license for a minimum of 11 years, it’s also a criminal offense – forever. A criminal record is permanent. It cannot be expunged. Unlike a conviction of a traffic infraction, driving recklessly is considered a criminal offense in Virginia. Most job applications will check your criminal conviction record. If you are applying for a job and you are asked whether you have had a criminal conviction, if you’ve been convicted of Reckless Driving then your answer should be affirmative. There is a very fine line between a mere traffic violation and a Class 1 Misdemeanor in Virginia. So, do you need to hire a traffic ticket attorney in Virginia when facing such charges? The answer is yes. There is no doubt about that.
Possible Jail Time
There is also a possibility of spending time in jail if you have been charged with serious traffic violations. If you were speeding on the Interstate at less than 95 miles per hour, then you should know that jail time is possible (but still unlikely in most Virginia jurisdictions). The good news is that you can only spend time in jail if you have been found guilty of the offense. An experienced and highly qualified traffic ticket lawyer in Virginia can fight your charges, and you might end up being declared not guilty, or at least have the charge reduced to a minor traffic infraction which never comes with jail (or a license suspension). In considering whether to send you to jail, the presiding judge will assess your criminal history and driving record. If you have a history of driving recklessly, combined with an alleged high speed offense, then the judge may consider sending you to jail, so that you can learn your lesson! Judges will also consider whether you were rude or combative to the arresting officer. Whenever you have been accused of a traffic violation, it is always advisable to hire a knowledgeable traffic lawyer in Virginia as soon as possible. Trying to fight the charges on your own can make matters worse. You also need to note that it is very possible you will end up with a permanent criminal record when convicted, even if you avoid time in jail. You don’t want to find yourself in such a situation.
Suspension of a Driver’s License
Speeding, failing to yield to an emergency vehicle, passing a stopped school bus or driving a faulty vehicle might seem minor at face value. However, all these offenses can be considered reckless driving under the strict traffic laws of Virginia. Any of these offenses can lead to a suspension of your driver’s license, upon conviction. Suspension of a driver’s license is one of the most common punishments meted out to traffic offenders. The suspension can go up to six months, which means you will lose all your driving privileges during that period. A judge can also grant you a restricted license, which you can use to drive for medical appointments, work, school and other unavoidable situations during that period of suspension. However, you will have to petition the court to grant you those privileges, and this is where a professional traffic attorney in Virginia comes in. Experienced lawyers know the language to use, as well as the approach to pursue when drafting such petitions. Without an attorney by your side, you will be fighting an uphill battle. Don’t take chances with such serious matters.
Traffic violations also attract a fine. The fine applied will depend on the offense that you committed. The maximum fine for traffic violations such as Reckless Driving in Virginia stands at $2,500. However, it is not common for the local judges to give the maximum fine. Most fines are in the range of $250 to $1,200 – even for higher speed cases (although some judges can get carried away and impose fines of $2000 and more). Apart from that, you will also be required to pay courts costs of approximately $80-90. You are usually given at least 30 days after the court date to pay the fine and costs. If for any reason you cannot manage to pay the fines within that period, again you have to petition the court, to be allowed more time. Without legal knowledge, it can be very challenging to draft such a petition. As you can see, you will need a skillful traffic lawyer by your side whenever you are facing any serious traffic violation.
Increase in Insurance Premiums
The level at which your insurance premiums will increase depends on your insurance provider in Virginia. Insurance companies have different policies when it comes to such situations. Once you are facing a traffic charge, don’t wait to confirm whether you will be convicted or not. Research shows that traffic violations like excessive speeding can increase your insurance premiums by up to 22%. For example, if you usually pay $100 per month on car insurance, then you will end up paying more than $260 more annually. If you have had a similar conviction before, then your rates might double or even triple. A conviction for first offense Reckless Driving can cause your rates to double as well (similar to a DUI – they are both Class 1 Misdemeanors your insurance company will argue). Regardless, your insurance company will take the position that their risk is higher for someone convicted of driving recklessly. This is even true for someone driving just 16 MPH over the limit (86/70 MPH). Some people avoid hiring a traffic attorney to represent them arguing that it is expensive. Upfront costs might appear steep. However, if the attorney can help you avoid the conviction, then it will be a considerable value in the long run.
Loss of Job
If you are a commercial driver, then the stakes are even higher. Most companies apply a strict policy of not hiring or even terminating the contract of someone convicted of certain traffic violations. Most delivery companies, tractor trailers, and others who employ CDL drivers have a strict policy. Since they must protect their insurance premiums, they need to ensure all their drivers are responsible.
Once you have been found guilty of excessive speeding (in the form of Reckless Driving) or other forms of traffic violations, you might end up with a permanent criminal record. Only a handful of companies, if any, would consider retaining an employee with such a record. Therefore, if you are facing a traffic charge, don’t assume anything.
Apart from losing a job or missing out on potential employment opportunities, a criminal record can also affect your housing status, education or even securing a loan. You might be thinking that you are saving money by avoiding to hire a traffic ticket attorney. However, in the end, you will end up losing more, something that may not be replaceable. You cannot afford to jeopardize your future. Call a competent traffic lawyer immediately.
Traffic charges such as reckless driving come with a maximum number of demerit points in Virginia. If you are convicted, then you will receive 6 demerit points against your driver’s license, which will remain there for 11 years. If you receive too many demerit points, then your license can be suspended or even revoked. If you are an out of state driver, then your home state will determine the number of demerit points as well as how long they remain on your record.
Contact Us Today
The benefits of hiring an experienced traffic attorney in Virginia are clear. A competent traffic lawyer has handled similar cases to yours before, in the same court with the same judge. He or she knows how to evaluate the evidence presented, and how to explore the weaknesses in the case. There is no substitute for professionalism, competence, and experience. If you are facing a traffic charge and you want to avoid the consequences that come with conviction, just talk to us today. Once you do that, you can rest easy knowing you have a reliable traffic attorney by your side. Contact us today for a free consultation and evaluation of your case.