Traffic Ticket Consequences

Each case is unique and carries individual traffic ticket consequences. These issues lead to a variety of potential results. Certainly, we expect far different outcomes for DUI charges as compared to speeding tickets. However, there are many other factors that affect potential results involved with traffic cases. 

Traffic Ticket Consequence Factors

Your demeanor with the police officer is one of the most important factors the court will take into consideration. The judge will be far more lenient to an individual who is polite and cooperative with the officer. Likewise, a judge is more apt to drop the hammer on someone who was argumentative or otherwise uncooperative.  Another major factor is the number of prior violations and points on your driving record. Most judges and commonwealth attorney’s will not be willing to agree to a favorable outcome without viewing your driving record first. A clean driving record will allow for much better results. Further, a record with multiple prior violations can lead to additional traffic ticket consequences.     

Driving School for Dismissal

Driving school is a very powerful tool to help avoid the more severe traffic ticket consequences.  In many cases I will advise my clients to complete driving school before the court date.  In other case, the judge may require you to complete driving school to have the case completely dismissed. Under those circumstances it is up to that individual to have the driving school completed by the deadline set by the court. Therefore, if the course is not completed by the deadline the case will not be dismissed.

Driving School Cases

In many cases, judges will issue driving school for your first ticket. Furthermore, they are less willing to order driving school after subsequent tickets. Expectedly, courts and judges differ from jurisdiction to jurisdiction. However, some courts are far more lenient in this regard. Additionally, most courts will allow you to complete driving school online or in person.  You must ensure that the original certificate of completion is submitted to the court by the deadline. In addition to the certificate you will be required to pay court costs.

Driving School for Reduction

In some cases the speed may be to high for the court to completely dismiss the case. In other cases, there may be too many violations on your record for the court to dismiss  In those situations, the court can require driving school for a reduction of the case. There are a couple different routes the court may go in regard to the reduction. 

Reduced To What?

A reduction to a simple speeding violation is the most common and likely scenario. Another common outcome would be the reduction to improper driving. In other circumstances the court may be willing to reduce the original violation to some sort of non-moving violation. Commonly used non-moving violations include defective equipment, defective speedometer, or failure to obey a highway sign while sleeping.  There are also situations where the court will leave the speed the same but amend the code section to simple speeding. Under that scenario, the misdemeanor would be dropped. However, you would not benefit from a reduction of points under that scenario. Finally, there are some instances where the court is unwilling to reduce the violation. However, they will waive an active jail sentence and/or license suspension upon the completion of driving school. For more information on driving school please visit tools to help avoid traffic ticket consequences

Defective Equipment

What is a defective equipment ticket in Virginia? Defective equipment is the type of violation you would receive for having a tail light out or cracked windshield.  This is categorized as a non-moving violation. As such, it indicates that something may have been wrong with your vehicle as opposed to your driving. As a non-moving violation, defective equipment does not carry any points on a Virginia driving record and most other states as well. 

Why Defective Equipment

Many judges in Virginia use defective equipment as a means to keep points off an individuals record. A reduction to defective equipment is often a bit of a quid pro quo. This outcome avoids most traffic ticket consequences while still allowing the judge to collect a fine.  In many cases, the Judge will keep the fine at the standard based on the originally charged speed. In others, the judge may enhance the fine for priors on your record or demeanor issues with the officer.

Speeding Infraction

For some reckless driving and speeding cases, avoiding points or having the case dismissed may not always be possible.  In those cases, our focus will shift to avoiding as many traffic ticket consequences as possibly. This of course includes reducing the number of points going on your driving record. For reckless driving cases we are always trying to avoid the class 1 misdemeanor conviction.  Simple speeding is just a traffic infraction and avoids the misdemeanor conviction.

Points Reduction And Suspension Avoidance

Additionally, most states DMV point systems are based on speed and miles per hour over the speed limit.  By convincing the court to reduce the speed, we are able to reduce the points going on your record. This reduction in points can then have several secondary consequences. In some states, a conviction over a certainly threshold can lead to license suspensions.  By reducing the speed below that limit, we can ensure that your license is not suspended by your states DMV. This outcome will also keep your insurance rates from being affected. Most insurance companies will use the mph over the speed limit as part of their analysis for rates. 

Improper Driving

Improper driving is frequently used to reduce reckless driving cases.  I find improper driving is most frequently used in accident related cases. However, it is certainly used in reckless driving by speed cases as well.  Improper driving allows judges and prosecutors to issue an elevated fine of $500.00. Conversely, the maximum fine for a simple speeding conviction is $250.00. 

Why We Like Improper Driving

However, on the positive side, improper driving only stays on a Virginia driving record for 3 years. Whereas, a speeding violation remains on the record for 5 years and 11 years for a reckless driving. An improper driving reduction will ensure we are avoiding the class 1 misdemeanor conviction. Likewise, this outcome reduces the number of points that would appear on your record.  Improper driving is a traffic infraction and not a criminal conviction. Thus, improper driving will not appear on your criminal record. Additionally, on a Virginia driving record, improper driving will cut the points in half from 6 to 3. This in turn will frequently keep your insurance from being affected.

Conviction

Unfortunately, there are certain cases that, despite our best efforts, result in a conviction.  Of course in most cases our number one goal is simply avoiding a conviction. In some cases it is improbable or nearly impossible to get the charge reduced. These cases can be difficult to reduce for a number of reasons. Some reasons include the nature of the alleged offense, the underlying facts, and what your record looks like.  In these situations we hope to reduce the traffic ticket consequences including fine, license suspension, and jail sentence.

Court Fines

Traffic cases that are not dismissed can result in a fine in addition to standard court costs.  In most instances, the fine is directly related to the severity of the allegation. There are statutory set fines for all reckless driving and speeding violations. The standard fine for speeding cases is $6.00/mph over the speed limit. In both instances, the faster the speed the higher the fine.  Additionally, many judges will use a fine as an additional punishment. We see this when the facts are particularly egregious. Similarly, some judges will enhance the fine if there are demeanor issues. If the officer testifies that you were not polite and cooperative the judge may enhance the fine.  However, there are some situations where we may be able to convince the judge to reduce the fine. This is most often the case for students and military personnel.

License Suspension

If you are convicted of an offense like reckless driving, the court may suspend your license.  When facing one of these cases, a key goal is eliminating the license suspension.  In some cases, it is not possibly to avoid the license suspension despite our best efforts. In those cases, we will request the court order a restricted license. This will allow you to drive to work and necessary appointments.  Once the suspension time has elapsed you are required to have your privilege to drive in Virginia reinstated.

Jail

In some situations the worst case scenario would result in an active jail sentence.  A jail sentence may only be imposed when you have been convicted of a misdemeanor. Therefore, a conviction for simple speeding or improper driving will ensure no jail sentence will be imposed.  However, if you are convicted of reckless driving or DUI, the court has authority to order an active jail sentence. This result is typically only reserved for the more egregious cases. Some of these cases include high speeds, unsettling facts, or high blood alcohol content.  Under that scenario, avoiding jail is the number one goal.

Suspended Sentence

In some cases we can convince the court to impose a suspended jail sentence. When the Court suspends a jail sentence, you will not be required to serve the time in jail. However, if you get into additional legal trouble you may have to serve the suspended jail sentence.