Tag: VA

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

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.

VA Police Catch Speeders, Limit Traffic Fatalities

 Police Enforce Speeding and Reckless Driving in Virginia During the  Holiday

Virginia Speeding Ticket LawyersMotorists driving on Virginia’s highways over the Labor Day weekend may have noticed an increased police presence, as Virginia State troopers issued reckless driving and speeding tickets across the Commonwealth. Virginia State Police had 75 percent of its uniformed workforce patrolling the interstates over the holiday.

The law enforcement push was part of the Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort (C.A.R.E.), an annual, state program intended to reduce car crashes and injuries caused by speeding, drunk driving and the failure of drivers to use seatbelts.

Virginia saw a sharp decrease in traffic fatalities over the weekend in comparison with the last year’s Labor Day weekend enforcement effort. Six people lost their lives in traffic accidents during the 2012 weekend across the state, including one fatality in Stafford County. During the same period in 2011, 16 people were killed in traffic accidents on Virginia’s roadways.

The four-day weekend saw Virginia State Police issue a number of citations and court summons throughout the Commonwealth. Troopers issued 8,187 speeding tickets and 2,459 reckless driving tickets. They arrested 112 people for drunk driving. Additionally, police responded to a total of 715 accidents.

Colonel W. Steven Flaherty, Virginia State Police Superintendent, was pleased with the show of force and the reduction in traffic-related fatalities over the holiday weekend: “We asked Virginians … to make safe, responsible driving a priority … We appreciate everyone who made an effort to share the road responsibly, buckle up, comply with speed limits, avoid distractions, and drive sober.”

Operation Combined Accident Reduction Effort is an annual Labor Day weekend law enforcement initiative aimed at curbing accidents caused by speeding and reckless driving in Virginia.

Weiland Upton is a leading firm of Virginia speeding ticket attorneys

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

Man Convicted of 12th DUI in Spotsylvania County

Pleads Guilty to Felony DWI in Spotsylvania, VA

VA DUI Spotsylvania
David Maron Apraham

A man pleaded guilty yesterday in Spotsylvania County, Virginia to his 12th DUI offense.

David Maron Apraham entered his guilty plea in the Spotsylvania Circuit Court for felony driving under the influence, driving on a suspended license and refusal to take a breathalyzer test. As part of a plea agreement, the Commonwealth’s Attorney dropped a felony charge of eluding a police officer.

Apraham will be sentenced on November 6, 2012. He faces a maximum of seven years in prison for the offense.

According to the plea agreement, Mr. Apraham was first convicted of drunk driving in Mississippi in 1990. He has been convicted of DUI in Mississippi six times as well as three times in Alabama. He was also convicted twice in Virginia: once in Williamsburg in 2008 and again in Colonial Heights in February 2012. Furthermore, he is wanted in the states of Alaska, Mississippi, North Carolina and Washington for DUI-related crimes.

The felony incident occurred in November 2011 when a Spotsylvania County deputy saw Apraham stumbling around a BMW dealership late at night. Apraham got into a pickup truck and drove off. The deputy saw the pickup truck swerve over the double-yellow line three times. When the officer turned on his emergency lights and siren, Apraham proceeded to speed up before turning into a parking lot.

The suspect was handcuffed after he fell while walking towards the officer. Apraham admitted having five beers some five hours early, but he smelled strongly of alcohol. He refused to take a breathalyzer test.

Apraham is being held without bond in the Rappahannock Regional Jail. He will be sentenced on November 6, 2012 for felony DUI in Spotsylvania, VA.

Weiland Upton is a leading firm of Virginia DUI Lawyers

Call 804.355.8037 for a free consultation

How Virginia Assesses Points on Your Driving Record

Speeding in Virginia? How many points is that?

Upon receiving a speeding ticket in Virginia, most drivers want to know how many points will be placed on their driving record. Virginia’s Uniform Demerit Point System can be a bit confusing. It is important for both in-state and out-of-state drivers to understand Virginia’s Uniform Demerit Point System.

All Virginia-licensed drivers and residents are subject to Virginia’s Uniform Demerit Point System. The Commonwealth’s demerit point system does not apply to out of state drivers. For example, a person, licensed in North Carolina, convicted of reckless driving eighty-eight (88) miles per hour in a sixty-five (65) mile-per-hour zone in Henrico County General District Court would be subject to North Carolina’s demerit point system, not Virginia’s. As a result, it is important for out-of-state drivers to contact their state’s department of motor vehicles to determine the applicable demerit points associated with their specific charge.

All Virginia drivers start with zero points on their driving records. Virginia licensed drivers receive one positive (+1) point for every year of good driving. In-state drivers may receive positive five (+5) points by voluntarily completing a defensive driving school. However, this can only be done once every two years. Five points are the maximum positive points permitted by law in the state. As a result, the best driver point balance in Virginia is +5 points.

There are three categories of negative point violations: three demerit point violations, four demerit point violations, and six demerit point violations. Examples of six demerit point violations are DUI, reckless driving by speed, speeding in excess of eighty miles per hour, speeding in excess of twenty miles per hour, and driving on a suspended license. For instance, a Virginia licensed driver or resident convicted of DUI would receive six negative points on their driving record. If a person is convicted of more than one demerit point violation with the same offense date, then that person is assessed demerit points for the highest demerit point violation. For example, a person convicted of DUI and speeding seventy-nine miles per hour in a seventy mile per hour zone in Chesterfield County General District Court would be assessed six negative demerit points for the DUI conviction. No demerit points would be assessed for the speeding conviction.

VA speeding ticket lawyers points drivers license

Click here for a full list of Virginia traffic violations and their corresponding demerit points. 

There is no limit to the number of negative points a person may accumulate. A person who accumulates negative twelve demerit points in a twelve consecutive month period or negative twenty-four demerit points in an eighteen consecutive month period will be placed on probation. This probationary period lasts for six months. Any person convicted of a demerit point violation during the probationary period will have their license suspended for ninety days (six demerit point violations), sixty days (four demerit point violations), or forty-five days (three demerit point violations). For example, a person convicted of reckless driving by speed, who is on probation, will have their driver’s license suspended for ninety days because reckless driving by speed is a six demerit point violation. However, people suspended while on probation may be eligible to petition the Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles for a restricted driver’s license.

A person who successfully makes it through the probationary period with no demerit point violations will, then, be placed on an eighteen month control period. A person who receives a demerit point violation during the control period will be placed back on a six month probationary period. Additionally, a person who violates probation will have their probation extended for an additional six months.

The best advice is to try to avoid being placed on probation. You should take even minor traffic infractions seriously because demerit points tend to sneak up on people. For example, a person with zero points who pays off three speeding tickets they received within the same year may be placed on probation. Experienced traffic attorneys, like the lawyers at Weiland Upton, know how to advise their clients to avoid the accumulation of demerit points from reckless driving and speeding tickets in Virginia.

Weiland Upton is a leading firm of Virginia Speeding Ticket Lawyers

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

Virginia DUI Lawyer Has Charges Reduced for Client

THE RESULTS DO NOT GUARANTEE OR PREDICT A SIMILAR RESULT IN ANY FUTURE CASE UNDERTAKEN BY THE LAWYER. THE RESULTS DEPEND ON A VARIETY OF FACTORS UNIQUE TO EACH CASE.

Virginia Drunk Driving Charges Reduced

A lawyer at the Law Firm of Weiland Upton recently defended two clients in a Virginia courtroom charged with driving under the influence. The attorney attained successful results in both DUI cases.

One client was charged with a second offense DUI and refusal to take a breathalyzer test. If convicted of both charges, our client would have suffered severe consequences.

The combination of both the refusal charge and the second offense DUI would have resulted in the following:

  •  A mandatory-minimum sentence of twenty (20) days in jail
  •  License suspension for four (4) years
  •  Inability to obtain a restricted license for the two years of his suspension
  • Ignition interlock on all vehicles he owned

In his discussions with the Commonwealth Attorney, the attorney at Weiland Upton was successful in convincing the prosecutor that there may have been a legal issue with the initial stop of the client by the police officer. The prosecutor agreed to dismiss the refusal charge and reduce the charge of driving under the influence from a second offense to a first offense DUI. As such, the defendant did not receive any active jail time, was immediately given a restricted license and did not have to install ignition interlock in his vehicle.

The other client was charged with a first offense DUI. Due to mitigating circumstances, the attorney was able to negotiate a reduction from driving while under the influence of alcohol to reckless driving. Our client avoided a mandatory one year suspension of his license and did not have to enroll in the in the Virginia Alcohol Action Safety Program required in a DUI conviction.

Weiland Upton has years of experience providing quality legal representation in Virginia traffic cases. Our office specializes in traffic law, and we are prepared to attain the best possible result in your Virginia DUI case.

Weiland Upton is a leading firm of VA DUI Attorneys

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation

Virginia Requires Ignition Interlock for DUI Convictions

VA Drunk Drivers Must Install Ignition Interlock Device

Virginia DUI VA DWI
The driver must blow into the ignition interlock device before the vehicle will start.

Beginning July 1, 2012, any person convicted of DUI in Virginia must have an ignition interlock device installed in their vehicle in order to be eligible for a restricted driver’s license. Prior to recent changes in the law, an ignition interlock device was only required for convicted, first-time drunk driving offenders with a blood alcohol content of 0.15 percent or higher and for all second and subsequent offenders. The legal driving limit is 0.08.

An ignition interlock system is similar to a breathalyzer but it is installed in a motor vehicle. The person operating the motor vehicle must blow into the device prior to starting it. If the interlock system detects alcohol content above a 0.02, the device will prevent the motor vehicle from starting. The device then asks for a reading every 20 to 30 minutes while the car is being driven in what is known as the “rolling test.” This is to ensure that the driver has not started drinking after turning on the vehicle. If a person fails the “rolling test,” the vehicle’s horn and lights will activate until the driver shuts off the car. Violations are reported to the driver’s VASAP Case Manager when the device is calibrated every month.

In Virginia, a person convicted of drunk driving can choose from four state-approved companies to install the ignition interlock device. These four companies have locations all across the Commonwealth. At the moment, none of them are charging an installation fee, but all four charge approximately $60 every month to monitor the system. By law, these companies are allowed to charge a maximum of $80 a month in monitoring fees.

Bart Chucker, a former partner of the firm, recently estimated in a Richmond-Times Dispatch article that more than 15,000 first-time DUI offenders will be affected by the ignition interlock system by the end of the year. According to the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles, 28,162 people were convicted of DUI in the state in 2011.

Persons convicted of a first offense DUI must have an interlock device installed in any motor vehicle driven as a condition of receiving a restricted license. This requirement is limited to motor vehicles driven by that person. A court may allow that person to drive a motor vehicle without an ignition interlock device if that person has to drive a vehicle during work hours as a condition of their employment. This limited exception does not apply if the person has an ownership interest in the business.

The ignition interlock requirements differ for persons convicted of second offense DUI. Persons convicted of second offense DUI must have an ignition interlock device installed in every motor vehicle owned or registered to that person. As a result, it may be wise for that person to own one motor vehicle at the time of their conviction. This will save that person the expense of installing the ignition interlock device on multiple vehicles.

Those convicted of driving under the influence will now be paying more money out of pocket as a result of the new ignition interlock requirement, making it more important than ever to seek quality legal representation if you’ve been charged with driving under the influence in Virginia.

Weiland Upton is a leading firm of Virginia DUI attorneys

Call (804) 355-8037 for a free consultation