Can out of state traffic violations hurt your Virginia driving record?

As Virginia traffic lawyers we are often asked by clients and prospective clients who hold a Virginia driver’s license whether a speeding ticket or other traffic violation received in another state can hurt their Virginia driving record.  The answer is yes.

Virginia-Traffic-Violations.jpgSince at least the late 1990s, many states’ motor vehicle authorities (DMVs) have participated in an information sharing network with one another.  Although a new network called the Driver’s License Agreement is expected to become the predominate information sharing hub for most states’ DMVs, the two major networks that many states currently use are the Driver’s License Compact and the Non-resident Violator Compact.  Essentially, the way all of these compacts work is that the states that participate in them have agreed to share information with one another concerning traffic convictions (speeding, reckless driving, failure to yield, failure to obey a traffic sign or DUI/DWI, etc…) that have occurred in their state.  In particular, these convictions are sent from the convicting state to the state where that person is licensed (often referred to as the “home state”), ultimately ensuring that the person’s driving record is negatively impacted as a result of a traffic infraction regardless of where the infraction occurs.

Perhaps the essence of these compacts is easiest to understand with an example.  Assume you live in and are licensed in Virginia, and you decide to take your family on a vacation to Florida.  Due to a traffic jam in North Carolina you decide to make up some time by exceeding the speed limit in South Carolina.  This plan to make up time is working out well until a police officer pulls you over and writes you a ticket for speeding.  Thinking this ticket will not affect your Virginia driving record since it happened in South Carolina you decide to simply prepay the ticket.  While that decision may save you some time by not traveling to South Carolina to defend the ticket and some money by not hiring an attorney to assist you with the ticket, the South Carolina DMV will very likely report the speeding conviction to the Virginia DMV.  As a result, what you previously believed was a harmless speeding ticket will very likely appear on your Virginia driving record and cost you precious Virginia demerit points.

Although our example involves a speeding ticket, the same concept is true for all different kinds of traffic infractions.  And to compound the problem, some people chose not to pay the fine and court costs for a ticket that is issued to them in a state different from where they are licensed.  They falsely assume that state’s DMV cannot do anything to harm them or their license status in their home state.  Unfortunately for them, their belief is wrong.  When the person chooses not to pay the fine and/or court costs that state then suspends that person’s privilege to drive in their state, and then notifies the person’s home state of the suspension.  Oftentimes the home state will then not renew that person’s license when the existing license expires due to the suspension pending in the other state.

As a result, it is critically important for people who are charged with speeding, reckless driving, or any other traffic infraction to consider hiring an attorney who can try to get the charge dismissed or reduced to a less serious traffic infraction that results in fewer demerit points, or none at all. Failure to do so will likely have a significant impact on their driving record, even if the ticket is issued in a state other than their home state.

Weiland Upton is a leading Virginia Traffic Law Firm

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

What is the Penalty for Driving without a License in Virginia?

Section 46.2- 300 of the Code of Virginia provides that no person shall drive any motor vehicle on any highway until the person has obtained a valid driver’s license. There are certain exemptions to this rule such as non-residents driving on a license from their state, but generally, a resident must have a license before driving in Virginia.

Driving without a license in VirginiaA first offense of this provision is a Class 2 misdemeanor and second or subsequent offenses are charged as Class 1 misdemeanors.  As such, a first offense carries a potential punishment of confinement in jail for not more than six months and a fine of not more than $1,000.  A second or subsequent offense carries a potential punishment of confinement in jail for not more than twelve months and a fine of not more than $2,500. The judge may suspended a persons driving privileges for up to 90 days upon the conviction of any offense under section 46.2-300.

In reality, judges rarely impose the maximum punishment and “standard” punishments differ from one jurisdiction to another. While it is theoretically possible to receive a jail upon conviction of a first offense, this outcome would be unusual in most jurisdictions.  Judges do occasionally impose jail on a second offense and regularly impose jail on third and  subsequent offenses.

Please contact Weiland Upton  (804-355-8037) if you have been charged with driving without a license in Virginia.

VA-DMV-Driving-Record

How to Obtain Your Virginia Driving Record

The old adage, “The advice you receive is only as good as the accuracy of the information you provide,” is very applicable when consulting an attorney in a traffic case.  It’s important for the attorney to know as much of the prospective client’s driving record as possible during an initial consultation.  A current driver history or driving record is the best way to provide an attorney with that information.

VA-DMV-Driving-RecordEach state maintains a driving record for drivers licensed to drive in those states.  It’s important to consult the procedures for obtaining driving records applicable to the state in which a person is licensed to drive.  The type of records available to drivers varies greatly from state to state.  For instance, drivers licensed in North Carolina may obtain a three year or seven year driving record.  On the other hand, Virginia licensed drivers are only able to obtain an eleven year driver history from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.  Please keep in mind even former Virginia licensed drivers may have a Virginia driving history.  So, a person currently licensed in Maryland who had a Virginia driver’s license five years ago, should obtain a Maryland and a Virginia driving record.

How to Request Your Virginia Driving Record

There are three ways to obtain a Virginia driving history.

  1. The first and most convenient is to use the Internet.  Simply go to www.dmv.virginia.gov and apply for a MyDMV Account.  Once a MyDMV Account is established, two types of records may be obtained; a Record at a Glance and an Official Record.  The Record at a Glance is provided free of charge.  It provides the current driving status (licensed, not licensed suspended, or revoked), point balance, driving restrictions, organ donor status, and expiration date.  However, an attorney is going to need more information than is contained the Record at a Glance.  The type of record is the full record.  This is way more useful to an attorney because this record includes the types and number of convictions on your record as well as the years those convictions occurred.  The cost for obtaining a full driving record online is $7.00.  Please keep in mind it may take up to fifteen days for you to receive your driving record in the mail.  However, a person may view their full driving record online for five days from the date of purchase.
  2. The second method of obtaining a driving record is to go to the nearest Virginia DMV Service Center.  It costs $8.00 to obtain a driving record at a Virginia DMV Service Center.
  3. The third way to obtain a driving record is to request one by mail.  The mailing address is:

Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
Attention: Vehicle (Driver) Records Work Center
P. O. Box 27412, Richmond, VA 23269

Make sure to enclose a personal check, money order, or certified check for $8.00 along with your name, address, social security number, and the reason for your record request.

It’s wise to obtain a current driving record before contacting a traffic attorney regarding your case.  Providing the attorney with the most up to date driver history permits the attorney to provide you with the best advice possible.  An experienced attorney will be able to combine his or her knowledge of a specific jurisdiction with the driving record information to formulate an effective representation strategy.

Weiland Upton is a leading Virginia Traffic Law Firm

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

How long will demerit points remain on my record

How Long Do Demerit Points Stay on Your Driving Record in Virginia?

As Virginia traffic attorneys, we are often asked by clients and prospective clients how long points resulting from a moving violation such as speeding or reckless driving will remain on their driving record.

How long will demerit points remain on my recordUnfortunately, the answer to that simple question is not always so easy to answer because it depends on the state in which the client or prospective client holds a driver’s license.  Each state has its own set of rules concerning the number of demerit points any given traffic infraction will result in and for the length of time those points will remain that person’s driving record.

In Virginia, for instance, our Department of Motor Vehicles (often referred to as “DMV”) is responsible for maintaining the driving records for individuals who hold a Virginia driver’s license.  When someone is convicted of a moving violation the convicting court sends a notice of conviction and all information concerning the conviction to the DMV.  The DMV then notes the violation on the person’s driving record along with the number of demerit points to be assessed, the date the offense occurred and the date of conviction.

For a person licensed in Virginia the demerit points for any given offense only remains on their driving record for two years.  After two years, the offense may remain on the person’s record for a longer period of time, and in some instances for ten years or more, depending on the infraction (speeding, reckless driving, driving under the influence, etc…) but the demerit points themselves will only remain on the driving record for two years.

Again, however, each state’s laws are different.  While two years is the rule for those who hold a license in Virginia, individuals who hold a license in a different state may want to review their state’s DMV website or contact an attorney who handles traffic matters and who is licensed in their state.

Don’t Text and Drive in Virginia or Anywhere

Virginia Could Make Texting Behind the Wheel a Major Traffic Offense

Texting while driving in Virginia is already against the law. It’s punishable by a ticket with a small fine. But the Virginia State Crime Commission wants the act to be considered the same as reckless driving.

Under proposed legislation endorsed by the Virginia State Crime Commission, texting while driving would be placed under the state’s definition of reckless driving. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor offense punishable by up to one year in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.As the law stands now, texting and driving is a secondary offense. That means you can only be ticketed for it if you’ve been stopped for a separate violation, such as failing to stop at a stop light. The first texting offense carries a $20 fine. All subsequent offenses carry a $50 fine.

Organizations such as DriveSmart, a driving-safety education organization, and AAA Mid-Atlantic, a motorist-advocacy group, have long lobbied for stronger texting while driving laws in Virginia. But the issue came to the forefront after a judge in Fairfax County ruled that a texting driver involved in a fatal accident could not be convicted of reckless driving because the state legislature passed a law making texting a lesser crime.

Delegate Robert Bell, chairman for the Virginia State Crime Commission, remains perplexed by that particular ruling, but said “if that’s something that’s happening in the court, we need to make sure texting is covered under reckless driving.”

Under the proposed legislation, drivers can only use their cellular phones to make voice calls. Drivers in Virginia could be stopped and charged with a misdemeanor if they use their phone for anything other than verbal communication while on the road.

Virginia Governor Bob McDonnell stated on his Richmond-area radio show that he believes texting and driving is already covered under the state’s reckless driving statute, but that he will seriously consider the proposal.

Advocates of stricter laws against texting and driving point to numerous studies demonstrating the dangers of using a cellular device while operating a vehicle.

A report released by the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration states that the risk of crashing is 23 times higher while texting than while driving undistracted. AAA cites studies showing that approximately 80 percent of accidents involve driver distractions or inattention within 3 seconds of the crash. Sending or reading one text message takes the driver’s eyes off the road an average of 4.6 seconds.

Public support against texting and driving is also high. According to a 2011 survey conducted by AAA, 94 percent of respondents agreed that texting or e-mailing while driving was unacceptable and 87 percent supported laws against reading or typing on cellular devices. 79 percent supported making texting while driving a primary offense.

But the same AAA survey also found that 33 percent of participants admitted to using their cell phones for purposes other than making calls. According to the survey, many of those in favor of stricter penalties for texting while driving actually used their mobile devices while driving a car.

The General Assembly hopes that by expanding the definition of reckless driving, it will prevent those 33 percent from texting and driving on Virginia’s roadways.

Weiland Upton is a leading firm of Virginia reckless driving lawyers

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

Dangers of Speeding While Driving Infographic

This infographic on the Danger of Speeding While Driving is the property of Weiland Upton. If you would like to post this on your blog or site, please give credit by linking back to Weiland Upton at https://www.cnrlawyers.com.

The dangers of speeding are certainly well known to most drivers, either by getting a ticket for speeding from law enforcement or being part of an accident due to reckless driving or even having a loved one be a victim of excessive speeding. This infographic provides statistics about speeding, including how often speeding results in a fatality, how much does speeding actually cost and what are the main reasons that people speed. In the end, any reason a driver gives for speeding will never be worth the potential costs.

Speeding Dangers Infographic by Chucker & Reibach

Sobering Statistics & Fact about Speeding:

  • Speeding occurs in 33% of all fatal crashes.  
  •  Driving to fast also the third leading contributing factor in traffic crashes.

Why drivers speed (Source: Focus on Safety: A Practical Guide to Automated Traffic Enforcement):

  • They’re in a rush
  • They’re not paying attention to their driving
  • They just don’t think the laws apply to them
  • They don’t think their driving is dangerous
  • They don’t think they will get caught speeding

Speeding costs you:

  •  In 1896, Walter Arnold of East Peckham, Kent UK, became the first person to be convicted of speeding. His fine was 1 shilling plus costs.
  • Drive slower and save at the pump: Every 5mph over 60mph, you pay an extra .24 per gallon of gas (www.safeny.ny.gov and their source  www.fueleconomy.gov)
  • A speeding ticket can cost $150 to more than $1,000 (www.safeny.ny.gov)
  • In the U.S.A., people paid more than $6B in speeding fines. (http://www.ask.com/questions-about/Average-Cost-of-a-Speeding-Ticket)
  • Keep your license: A speeding violation will add points and your license can be suspended. (www.safeny.ny.gov)

Speeding facts:

  • 13,000 lives lost each year due to speeding
  • Crashes where speed is an issue cost society more than $40 billion annually (NHTSA)
  • Think it pays to speed? In the U.S.A. it costs society more than $76,000 for every minute you gain by speeding
  • Slow down in that school zone: many do not comply with a lower speed limit

Speeding may lead to more risky behavior

Who’s most at risk?

39% male drivers, age 15 -20 were speeding at the time of their fatal vehicle crash (NHTSA)

Where people speed: Hint: Its not always the highways

  • 47% on roads 50mph or less
  • more than 20% on roads 35mph or less (NHTSA 2006 fatality data)

According to the NHTSA, a crash is speeding related if the driver was charged with a speeding related offense, or if the police officer indicates that racing or driving too fast conditions, or the driver has exceed the posted speed limit which contributed to the crash.

Sources:

  •  http://www.nsc.org/safety_road/DriverSafety/Pages/Speeding.aspx
  • http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Speed_limit
  • http://www.safeny.ny.gov/spee-ndx.htm
  • http://www.ask.com/questions-about/Average-Cost-of-a-Speeding-Ticket

Thank you for helping us spread the message of the Danger of Speeding.

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Guest Blog: New York Residents with VA Traffic Tickets

Virginia and Out-of-State Traffic Tickets

If you have a New York driver’s license and receive a Virginia traffic ticket, you are not off the hook just yet.

Virginia Speeding Ticket Attorneys

If convicted of a NY traffic offense and you are a VA driver, you will have to deal with:

  • The conviction being placed on your driving record
  • Points being placed on your record
  • The hassle of paying fines
  • Steep insurance hikes
  • Possible suspension
  • Possible revocation

Remember, New York and Virginia are members of the Driver’s License Compact, so they freely share driver information with one another. How can this be?

This means receiving a VA traffic ticket while having a NY license will lead to NY being notified about the ticket you received and vice versa for a ticket received in NY for a VA license holder.

What Can a Traffic Ticket Attorney Do for Me?

Face it: no one wants to travel all the way back to the state they just happened to pass through simply to fight their traffic tickets.

Hiring an attorney allows you to stay at home while your traffic ticket attorney fights for you.

Additionally, your lawyer understands the system better than anyone else, knows how to negotiate with the prosecutor in a way that will get you what you want, and can almost always get you a better deal than if you represented yourself.

Many people wrongly think that the cost of a traffic ticket attorney is simply too much. In reality, this could not be farther from the truth.

If you plead guilty, you might avoid travel costs, but the increase in your insurance and the associated fines will likely be well more than the cost of hiring an attorney.

If you fight the ticket yourself, you have to deal with administrative hurdles, may have to travel back to the state, and will be fighting a battle without the best weapons or ammunition.

Rules of the Road for Virginians

In Virginia, demerit points will usually be assessed against your VA driver’s license.

Essentially, as long as Virginia recognizes the traffic offense you committed in New York, you will receive points on your VA license for it.

Moreover, those points will go toward suspensions and revocations even though the offense was committed in a state other than Virginia.

Consequently, it pays to hire an experienced traffic ticket attorney who can get your traffic ticket reduced to an offense that Virginia would not put points on your license for.

Many times, your traffic ticket attorney will already have a relationship with the prosecutors and it might be easier than you may think to have a favorable plea negotiated for.

How a VA Driver Could Lose His Driving Privileges in NY

If you are an out-of-state driver and accrue 11 points or more, you will lose your New York driving privileges.

This accumulation of 11 points will be determined based on the New York point system, not your home state’s point system.

Therefore, if you are caught speeding 41 miles over the posted speed limit or get cited twice for speeding 21-30 miles over the limit, you will no longer be allowed to drive in the State of New York for a specified duration of time.

Remember, your driver’s license will not be suspended by your home state and NY does not have the authority to suspend an out-of-state driver’s license.

However, since VA and NY are both members of the Driver’s License Compact, VA will honor the “suspension” of your New York driving privileges even though it will not take away your ability to drive elsewhere.

Author Bio

Adam H. Rosenblum of ticketdefenselaw.com  is a traffic ticket attorney licensed to practice in both New York and New Jersey.