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Should you prepay your traffic ticket?

Posted by Jeremy S. Letnick | May 11, 2015 | 0 Comments

Traffic Ticket Prepayment is a Guilty Plea to the Charge

Prepaying your traffic ticket may seem like a quick and less expensive way to handle your ticket. You can simply go online at www.courts.state.va.us and hit the ‘mark for payment button' and enter your credit card information.  For example, prepaying a Failure to Obey a Highway Sign ticket is currently a $30 fine plus $67 in court costs.  However, prepayment is a guilty plea to the charge as it is written and it may be more expensive in the long run in terms of DMV demerit points and insurance rate increases.

Non-moving Violations vs. Moving Violations

Non-moving violations

Each traffic infraction is either a non-moving violation or a moving violation. Unless an accident is involved, prepaying a non-moving violation is generally not an issue. Non-moving violations result in no demerit points and, many times, will not appear on your driving record. As a result, they generally do not affect insurance rates either. For example, in Fairfax County, a conviction for ‘Failure to Pay Full Time and Attention' (Code 82-4-24) is a non-moving violation charged under the county code. Because there is no parallel state statute in Virginia, an abstract of the conviction is not sent to the DMV. Therefore, no record of the conviction appears on your driving record and the only thing you will be responsible for is a fine and court costs. Moving violations, on the other hand, are a different story.

moving violations

Moving violations will result in additional penalties. In addition to the fine and court costs associated with a conviction, DMV demerit points will be assessed. Specifically, 3-point, 4-point, and 6-point reductions from your driving record will be assessed upon conviction, including if the fine is prepaid. See the traffic ticket section of our website for more information regarding specific point balances and the Virginia DMV website at http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/drivers#points_assess.asp for further information.

Hiring a Lawyer for your Traffic Ticket

While hiring a lawyer can seem expensive initially, it can save costs down the road. For example, getting a 4-point 74mph/55mph zone reduced to Defective Equipment will not only save 4 points on your driving record, it is a non-moving violation and most, if not all, insurance companies do not assess penalties for such convictions. Many courts will also let the client's attorney appear in court on their behalf so that they, the client, do not need to miss work. In addition, by saving your point balance, there just may come a time that an officer stops you for speeding, sees your impeccable driving record (even though you've had a charge reduced before), and that officer may let you go with a warning.  Traffic Violations will add up over time so it is far better to handle the matter at the outset because it is easy to simply prepay your tickets and later realize your driving record shows you're a minus-10 point balance.  Imagine such a driving record and then having a pending charge of reckless driving where the only thing that can save you is a good driving record.

About the Author

Jeremy S. Letnick

Jeremy Letnick is in the courtroom daily. Raised by both an attorney and a Fairfax County Police Officer, Mr. Letnick has been exposed to the intricate workings of both sides of the legal system his entire life.  His focus is criminal law and traffic law.  As result, he has the distinction of regularly appearing in the courts of Northern Virginia and consistently appears in front of the Judges and routinely works with the Prosecutors and Police Officers.  He has handled thousands of cases ranging from simple speeding tickets to robbery and manslaughter charges.  Mr. Letnick's ultimate goal is to make the client's court experience as stress-free as possible while pursuing the client's objectives.  Mr. Letnick is a second-degree black belt and takes the respectful position that everyone should stand up for themselves in Court and in life. George Mason University, B.A. 2004Thomas M. Cooley School of Law, J.D. 2008Certificate of Merit “Book Award”:Trial SkillsAlternative Dispute ResolutionForensic ScienceFairfax Bar AssociationPrince William Bar Association

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