Tag: traffic ticket

Virginia Traffic Court: Should I plead No Contest or Guilty?

Virginia Traffic Court: Should I plead No Contest or Guilty?

As Virginia traffic lawyers, we are often asked by clients and prospective clients whether it is best to plead guilty or no contest to a traffic offense such as reckless driving, driving under the influence (DUI/DWI) or speeding.

Not surprisingly, the answer is, “it depends.” First of all, it is always very important to consult with an experienced traffic attorney who has a great deal of experience handling traffic matters in the jurisdiction in which your case is pending before you decide how you should plead to the charge. This is important because some judges have policies that concern what, if any, mercy they will grant an otherwise guilty traffic defendant based on how they plead. Some judges, for example, will not dismiss or reduce a reckless driving charge to a lesser offense against a defendant who pleads not guilty and then asks the court for leniency after the judge finds that the facts established at trial support a conviction.

VA DUI

It doesn’t take too much of an imagination to see yourself involved in a relatively minor accident at a traffic light on your way home from work. It happens to the best of us. But then to add insult to injury that police officer who has been very nice throughout the “crash investigation” informs you that the driver of the other vehicle needs to be taken to the hospital for a possible neck injury, and that he has to charge you with Reckless Driving. “Neck injury?” “Reckless Driving?” You are beside yourself! How is this possible? As the nice officer hands you the summons for Reckless Driving with a court date for you to appear and plead your case to the judge he waves politely and tells you to have a nice day.

You make your appearance in court on the designated court date. Your case gets called and the judge asks you how you plead. “How do I plead?” you think to yourself. It’s a no-brainer. “I plead not guilty, your honor,” you stammer. The judge then listens to the evidence. He hears from the driver of the other vehicle. The other driver indicates to the court that while he is waiting patiently at the red light on a nice slow and easy day, he saw you careening toward his vehicle from his rearview mirror and it appeared that you were distracted by your radio. The next thing he remembers, he informs the court, is that his vehicle was rammed from behind and he had to be transported to the hospital because his neck was in pain. Then the court hears from the officer. The officer testifies that he did not see any tire marks to indicate braking, which led him to believe that you were distracted and did not brake before impacting the other vehicle. “This is unbelievable,” you think to yourself. “This was a minor accident.” And finally it’s your turn to testify. You explain to the court that you were not distracted when you hit the other vehicle. You go on to testify that the light had just turned green and you thought that the vehicle in front of you was beginning to accelerate and so you didn’t brake. By the time you realized they had not gone forward upon the light turning green it was too late and you made minor impact with the other vehicle.

Now it’s the court’s turn. It’s judgment time. The judge explains that he listened to you and all other witnesses intently. And while he understands your position, he finds from the evidence that your conduct meets that prohibited under the Virginia Reckless Driving statute. He’s sorry, he tells you, but he has no choice but to find you guilty.

Notwithstanding your utter disagreement with the judge’s ruling, you explain to his or her honor that you have a perfect driving record and this is the first accident you’ve ever been involved in and you’d like the court to consider reducing this to something less serious than reckless driving. The Court listens patiently as you make your best pitch, but then informs you that it is the court’s policy to not dismiss or reduce Reckless Driving charges (or Following Too Close charges) where an accident is involved and the defendant pleads not guilty. The court enters judgment and you leave the courthouse having been convicted of Reckless Driving.

You’re left stunned. After all, you’re a model citizen who works hard, raises a family and has never been in trouble before. How could you get convicted of Reckless Driving, a class 1 misdemeanor offense, for this fender bender? Well, in part it’s because you didn’t consult with an attorney who has a very clear understanding of Virginia traffic law, the court’s policies and the facts at hand.

Indeed, pleading not guilty or no contest before such a judge could prove to be a very costly mistake, especially to a person concerned about the affect the reckless driving conviction could have on their driving record, auto insurance rates, employment, or driving privileges. To be very clear, however, it can be equally disastrous to simply attend court on such a charge and plead guilty. Under Virginia law, if the driver of that other vehicle decides to sue you for money as a result of the accident and you entered a guilty or no contest plea to the Reckless Driving charge, the other driver’s civil attorney may try to use that plea against you as an admission of guilt.

As you can no doubt see, it this is not a decision to be made lightly. And this same decision process is just as important, if not more important, when dealing with other traffic offenses such as DUI/DWI or Hit and Run. It is very important to consult with an attorney that focuses his or her practice on traffic and DUI/DWI matters.

If you have any questions, please contact our firm at (804) 355-8037.

6 Reasons a Lawyer Should Fight Your Ticket

6 Reasons a Lawyer Should Fight Your Ticket

Getting a traffic ticket is not a fun experience, but most people have gotten one or more in their lifetime. While most people just pay the ticket and move on, it may be worth it to hire a traffic lawyer to fight your ticket. Many people get tickets when they don’t necessarily deserve them. For example, maybe you got a speeding ticket when you were just keeping up with the flow of traffic. Perhaps you got a parking ticket for backing into a parking space when the sign was not posted anywhere. Whether the ticket was your fault or not, you have a great chance of having the ticket removed from your record if you fight it. However, you likely don’t know the best way to go about fighting your traffic ticket, so it’s a good idea to have a lawyer fight it for you. Nine out of ten people will just pay the ticket whether it was their fault or not, but that doesn’t mean that you have to be one of those people. Having traffic tickets can increase your insurance rates, lead to hefty fines, and affect your driving record. As you can see, it may well be worth it to have a lawyer fight for you to try to get your ticket dismissed. There are a few different ways that having a lawyer on your side can help you.

Virginia Speeding Ticket Attorneys1.       They Know How to Get Out of It

When you get a traffic ticket, your first instinct isn’t likely how to find a mistake on the ticket or how to prove that you didn’t do whatever the ticket said that you did. However, a lawyer will know how to find the things that the average person can’t find. They can find errors that not many people will notice, and if there is an error or mistake on your ticket, then it will almost certainly be dismissed. These errors will likely be missed by most people fighting by themselves to have their traffic ticket dismissed, so you can benefit greatly from having a lawyer that knows what technicalities they can use to help you get out of your ticket.

2.      Traffic Lawyers Can Get Your Ticket Reduced

Let’s say that there are no mistakes on your traffic ticket, and it turns out that there is no way for you to get out of your traffic ticket. Hopefully it won’t come to this, but there are times where you have to take responsibility for whatever it is you did. However, this doesn’t mean that you have to pay the entire fine. Your lawyer will likely be able to negotiate and get a lower fine, which can make a huge difference in how much you pay. They may be able to use your good driving record as a reason for why your ticket should be reduced, or they might find another reason that convinces the judge that reducing your ticket is a good idea. This is something you likely won’t be able to do on your own.

3.      Traffic Attorneys Fight for Your Rights

You most likely don’t know what rights you have as a driver in the state of Virginia. However, your lawyer knows just about everything there is to know when it comes to traffic law. They know how to argue for you and they know how to fight for your rights. In addition to knowing they will fight for your rights, it’s nice to know that you have somebody that understands the law fully on your side. This will greatly increase your chances of having your ticket reduced or dismissed altogether.

4.       It’s Probably Less Expensive Than You Think

When most people hear the word “lawyer”, they usually think of something that’s way too expensive for them to even consider. While this may be true for some lawyers, most traffic lawyers have quite reasonable rates. After all, what would the point be in hiring a lawyer if their fees are more expensive than your ticket would be? Because of this, most traffic lawyers charge low rates for their clients. Fighting a traffic ticket takes a lot less time than handling a murder case. In fact, many traffic lawyers are able to handle dozens and sometimes even hundreds of cases in one day. This is part of the reason it’s not typically expensive to hire a traffic lawyer. When you consider that in addition to getting your ticket reduced or dismissed they can get it removed from your record, you will likely see how hiring a lawyer is very well worth it.

5.       Prosecutors are More Intimidated by Experienced Traffic Lawyers

People who represent themselves likely aren’t going to scare the prosecutors. It’s pretty understandable, considering that most people aren’t going to fight very hard since they don’t really know how to fight. This is why most people who represent themselves typically have higher fines and harsher penalties. As soon as a lawyer shows up, however, prosecutors realize that the defendant can’t be bullied by them. They recognize that the lawyer knows what they are doing, so they are much more likely to give in, which means that you are a lot less likely to have to pay the ticket.

6.       It Can Change the Judge’s View of You

It makes sense that people who are innocent are likely to be innocent. Most people who know they have done what the tickets says they did are either going to pay the ticket, or show up to court in hopes that the police officer doesn’t show up. However, if you are so invested in your case that you bring a lawyer into it, the court is going to be more likely to believe that you are innocent. Because of this, having a lawyer on your side may make the judge more likely to rule in your favor, regardless of whether or not you are guilty.

As you can see, there are many benefits to having a lawyer on your side. Even if you think you are guilty of the ticket, it doesn’t hurt to see if you can get your ticket reduced or perhaps dismissed because of an error on the ticket. Hiring a lawyer is likely cheaper than paying the ticket itself, so you don’t have much to lose.

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

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

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.