Preparing for Your Court Date

Increase Your Chances for a Positive Outcome

In addition to the stress of dealing with a traffic ticket, there are several long term tasks that need to happen prior to your court date. Each case we represent is different and we’ll recommend what tasks or steps you will need to complete during our initial consultation of your case. Our goal as we are preparing for your court date is to put together a unique plan of action specific to your case and your individual needs. Below are common tasks our cases complete in preparation for court dates.

Requesting Your Driving Record

The first step when preparing for your court date it to request of copy of your driving record. Virginia judges prefer to see your driving record for the past five years. This used to be an infrequent or specific case request and has become more common as judges look to familiarize themselves with repeat offenders. You will need to pull a record for every state you have been licensed in for the past five years. 

State Record Request

On this page, the link for each state will take you directly to where you need to go to pull your record or you can always go in person to your local DMV/MVA. It is important that the record comes from the state’s respective DMV/MVA; judges will not accept third party records.

IMPORTANT: Most states require you to create an account by entering your driver’s license number and date of birth. It is important to start this process as soon as possible because some states like New Jersey will require you to request a PIN that is sent out by mail before you can obtain your driving record. This can take up to 2 weeks.

Requesting a Copy of Your Record

The judges do not require the record to be a certified copy , a non-certified record is fine. You just need to be sure that it shows the past five years of your driving history. This means if your state only offers a 3-year or 7-year record, you will need to request the 7-year record. Be sure when sending me your driving record, you send in all pages. Most states, the last page will say “End of Transmission.”

Writing a Letter of Apology

Another step when preparing for your court date is to write a letter of apology. Writing a letter of apology can be a useful tool in defending traffic crimes and infractions like reckless driving and speeding. These letters tell the court know you understand the seriousness of the offense and the consequences you are facing. Apology letters also give our clients a chance to explain the situation from their perspective. Using this tool has been particularly successful in preventing a conviction based on demeanor issues. Here are a few tips for creating an apology letter

Explain Your Situation

First, explain why you are writing the letter.  Do not make excuses for your behavior. In many of these traffic cases, there are some underlying reasons for traveling at that speed, like passing a swerving tractor trailer. This letter is your opportunity to explain those circumstances to the court. You’ll want to be careful and take responsibility for your actions while also providing a little bit of detail to the court in terms of the circumstances surrounding the stop.

Second, describe your personal and professional achievements.  Are you a student? If so, what do your grades look like and what is your major? Are you involved in your community? Outline those responsibilities and your commitments to those efforts. Be sure to be specific and provide details.

Another topic to include is how a negative outcome could impact your life. Do you drive your little sister or child to and from school? Does your work require you to drive to meet with clients? Does your work require a conviction free record? Do you have a Commercial Drivers License or Security Clearance you need to protect?  Maybe you are a student paying for college on your own and cannot afford the fine or increased insurance rates or a single mom who is the sole source of transportation for your family.

Other Topics to Consider for Your Letter
  • Are you an Out of State Driver? Be sure to look into how a conviction will follow you home. Some states will suspend your license if convicted of driving 15 mph or more over the speed limit in a 55 mph zone.
  • What did you learn from this experience? Did you take Driving School? Share what you learned especially, if it pertains to your case. Did the instructor share videos that showed the importance of wearing your seat belt, the Move Over Law, or the dangers of speeding in a construction zone? What did you learn from the fellow students? Were there any testimonials from other students or speakers that stuck with you?
  • Did you do Community Service? Explain your responsibilities were and what you learned.  
  • For reckless driving and DUI, you need to apologize for putting the officer and other drivers at risk. Did you have passengers in the car? Were you in a school or work zone? Remember, it is not only yourself you put at risk.
  • Were you arrested? Explain how embarrassing and difficult it was to tell your friends and family. If you are facing at jail time, you need to explain how this will negatively impact your career and other responsibilities..
  • For younger clients, explain any consequences given by your parents. Did they take your cell phone or restrict your driving privileges? If convicted, who will pay for the fines, court costs and increased insurance rates?
  • Do you have a family member that is about to start driving? If so, mention how you do not want to be a bad influence and never want to see them mimic your poor choices.
  • Did you receive any charges that have since been rectified? If you had a tail light that was out, the Judge needs to know that this has been fixed. Be sure to include any costs and updates.
  • Were you less than polite or argue with the officer? This is your chance to apologize to the officer for letting your emotions get the best of you and explain what was going on at the time.
  • Did you have your speedometer calibrated? An apology letter along with a favorable calibration can show the officer that to the best of your knowledge, you did not know you were not speeding. 

Apology letters are important and helpful items for defending traffic tickets. If you are facing a traffic violation in Virginia, contact Mattox Law today to learn more about how we can help your case achieve the best possible outcome.

Other Ways Of Preparing For Your Court Date

Driving School

Speedometer Calibration

Community Service