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
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 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.