Virginia Traffic Lawyer
There are hundreds of laws that govern how people drive. Most of these laws are easily understood and seem to be common knowledge. There are some laws, however, that are not common knowledge and when people violate them, they face penalties such as fines, points on their license, a license suspension or revocation, or even jail time. The Commonwealth is very vigilant about prosecuting violators of traffic laws to the full extent of the law in order to preserve public safety.
If you have committed a traffic violation, proper legal representation can help you minimize the penalties and possibly help you avoid conviction. This is why it is important to hire an experienced Virginia traffic lawyer to help handle your defense. An experienced criminal lawyer in Virginia can help prepare you for what to expect and ensure that the strongest defense possible is put forward on your behalf.
Beginning July 1, 2013, some notable changes to Virginia distracted driving laws came into effect in the Commonwealth. In addition, there have been recent changes to Virginia DUI laws and taxes on gasoline and diesel fuel.
Experienced Traffic Attorneys
Nobody wants to be pulled over by a police officer, but the reality is at one point or another, we most likely will be. With congestion growing, people will often drive fast or recklessly in order to get to their destination quicker. Many people do not even realize they are breaking laws when they drive in such a manner. For example, one of the lesser known applications of reckless driving is driving 20 miles or more over the speed limit.
Typically, people envision reckless driving as someone going over 100 miles per hour or perhaps being pursued by the police in a high speed chase. But these and other traffic violations are more common than you may think. The result of these laws and the way that the Commonwealth enforces them is that people end up spending thousands of dollars every year in fines and increased insurance rates.
We would like to help you avoid those financial hardships, as well as any criminal prosecution you could be facing, if at all possible. Please also visit our DUI lawyer page for more information on that related area of law.
There are many defenses that our attorneys can use when arguing against your traffic violation. One is that a speed calibration machine was malfunctioning and did not record your speed accurately. Another defense is that the police officer who pulled you over did not have a legitimate reason to do so. These defenses and others provide a way for you to explain what happened in court and with the proper legal assistance, you may be able to make a strong case for yourself and avoid any unfavorable consequences.
Consequences of Virginia Traffic Violations
Traffic offenses pose more of a problem than merely fines. Points on your driver’s license, mandatory driver improvement classes, and even jail time are some of the things a judge can order as punishment. The most severe thing that could happen is being sentenced to jail.
While jail time is usually reserved for repeat offenders of more serious traffic violations, it is not out of the question that a judge would impose a sentence on someone for even the slightest offense. Even if the sentence is not very long, the fact that you were convicted of a crime and sentenced to jail will remain on your permanent record and be a barrier in your life – a barrier that could prove exceptionally difficult to overcome.
Job prospects, homes, and loans for school may become out of reach for someone convicted of a crime. Additionally, your reputation within your community may suffer, taking a toll on your personal life. We can help you avoid any of these negative consequences.
The laws used by the state to govern their roads can be complex and difficult to understand. Nobody expects you, as a defendant, to have a full and total grasp on them or understand how they might affect you if you face a charge. Contact our Virginia traffic attorneys as soon as possible so that they may be able to explain to you the depth of the charges that you are facing, as well as any penalties that would come with a conviction.
Driving While Suspended in Virginia
Criminal code Section 46.2-301 covers driving on a suspended license, which is a Class 1 misdemeanor, even up to the 3rd offense.
There are generally two ways in which a driver’s license can be suspended, through a legal violation while operating a vehicle on Commonwealth roads, or through administrative action. A court can suspend your license using administrative action if you:
- Fail to remit court fines and courts within 30 days of a conviction
- Are 90 days or more delinquent on child support payments
- Are at least $5,000.00 behind on child support payments
- Fail to pass a mandatory driver improvement clinic
- Flee or elude a police officer for any reason.
- Fail to provide proof of insurance upon demand
All that is required for a suspended license due to administrative action is a clerk’s notice in response to a defendant meeting one or more of the above conditions. Suspended Driver Attorneys are trained to diligently scour an accused’s driving record for adequate grounds for maintaining a DWS conviction.
Penalties for Driving While Suspended
As the first three offenses are all Class 1 misdemeanors under state law, the associated penalties for driving on a suspended license are relatively similar. For the first two offenses, defendants can be sentenced to up to one year in jail and a $2,500 fine. Of course, the license is also typically suspended for the remainder of the previous suspension and a possible additional suspension, not to exceed 90 days in total. Upon a suspended driver’s third offense, a mandatory 10 days in jail is enforced.
Upon the third offense of a DAF, a suspended driver can be convicted of a Class 6 felony, the first tier of felony crimes. This charge carries a possible sentence of up to five years in jail and a fine of up to $2,500.
Special Considerations in Driving While Suspended Cases
Section 18.2-272, or Driving after Forfeiture of License has some common overlap with Driving While Suspended, and many prosecutors can choose under which code to prosecute a defendant. This provides your attorney with options on how to pursue plea bargains or better deals for their clients. One major difference between DWS and DAF charges is that a 3rd DAF offense is considered a Class 6 felony. Repeat DAF offenders are best served by having charges reduced to DWS.
Driving after Forfeiture of License is the enforced charge in all traffic violations when a license is suspended. Driving after Forfeiture of License in violation of Section 18.2-272 can be charged when someone is found to be driving after one’s privilege to drive has been previously revoked due to a DUI conviction, a conviction for unlawfully refusing to submit to a breath test pursuant to a DUI arrest, and for several other less common offenses.
Driving Without Insurance
If you are involved in a motor vehicle accident and do not have auto insurance, you are personally financially responsible for any damages or medical expenses. The Commonwealth requires that drivers demonstrate financial responsibility through maintaining adequate liability insurance. If you are charged with driving without insurance, you face significant legal and financial penalties, including:
- Suspension of driver’s license, registration, and license plates
- Points assessed on your driving record by Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
- $500 statutory fee and additional fees associated with reinstating your vehicle registration
- Mandatory financial responsibility insurance certificate (SR-22 insurance) for three years
If you are charged with driving without insurance, do not panic. Our traffic attorneys in Virginia understand the relevant insurance laws and can plan a strategy to help you avoid unnecessary consequences of your driving without insurance charge.
Liability Insurance Requirements
In order for a vehicle to obtain registration, the owner must show proof of financial responsibility. Generally, this is done through purchasing auto insurance coverage equal to or greater than Virginia’s minimum liability requirements:
- $25,000 of coverage for bodily injury or death of one person
- $50,000 for bodily injury or death of two or more people
- $20,000 for property damage
However, Virginia also provides a means for legally driving without insurance. A driver can still register a vehicle without liability insurance by paying an Uninsured Motor Vehicle (UMV) fee of $500. The UMV fee must be renewed along with the registration, and it does not offer any financial security or protection in the event of an accident. Someone who is found to be driving without registration will also face charges.
Failure to maintain required liability insurance or to pay and renew the UMV fee can lead to even more financial headaches through fines, fees, and the mandatory SR-22 insurance, which often costs two to three times more than traditional auto insurance.
Additionally, the suspension of your driving privileges can cause difficulties in your daily life by limiting your ability to get where you need to go. If you have been charged with driving without insurance, contact us to speak with a traffic lawyer who can help you understand your options.