Traffic tickets are almost an inevitable part of driving in Northern Virginia. Some tickets are no-point violations while others are considered moving violations that result in DMV demerit points and, possibly, insurance rate increases. Most traffic tickets are prepayable and are a simple fine. However, prepaying the fine is a guilty plea to the charge and DMV demerit points will be assessed accordingly. Before you prepay the ticket, feel free to give us a call or send us an email and we would be happy to explain the penalties.
Our goal in these cases is to work towards a dismissal of the charge or negotiate a reduction to a no-point offense. In many cases, we can appear on your behalf for Court so you don't need to appear. We have had many clients over the years receive traffic tickets (and on more than one occasion). Some simply have a heavy foot and get multiple speeding tickets while others are busy with work or family and get distracted. Many of our clients still maintain a perfect driving record to this day even after receiving more than one ticket in a year. We pride ourselves in that because we helped them achieve that.
We offer a Free Consultation to discuss your case and can help you decide whether or not it is worth the cost to have a lawyer for a traffic ticket. Give us a call or use the contact form below. Text: 703-300-5426 or call 703-273-4100.
Should you prepay your traffic ticket or hire a lawyer?
Speeding tickets and other simple traffic tickets, such as Failing to Yield or Failing to Obey a Highway Sign, are prepayable. You can simply go online to the Virginia Case Information System, and pay with a credit card. However, while prepaying the ticket may save you money in the short-term, since you're not paying for a Traffic Lawyer and you're paying a minimum fine, your insurance rates may later increase for a number of years. In addition, you will be assessed DMV demerit points and the conviction will remain on your driving record for a period of time. As a result, any further traffic violations will be more difficult to obtain favorable results since the Court will see a developing pattern of traffic tickets. Additionally, insurance companies will adjust their rates accordingly. See this link to our blog for more information on whether to prepay your traffic ticket and hiring a lawyer for your traffic case
What are the Traffic Ticket Points and Penalties?
Upon a conviction for a traffic offense, the Fairfax County Court sends an abstract of the conviction to the Virginia DMV. In addition, the DMV will issue demerit points according to the severity of the offense, including offenses that are incurred out of the state. Depending on the type of charge, the conviction will remain on the driving record for a certain period of time. The maximum fine for simple traffic infraction is $250.
- Speeding 1-9 mph above the posted speed limit (5 years on driving record)
- Impeding Traffic/Driving Too Slow (3 years)
- Improper passing on the right (3 years)
- Improper turn (3 years)
- Improper Lane Change (3 years)
- Improper U-turn (3 years)
- Improper Driving (3 years)
- Violation of right turn on red (3 years)
- Violation of left turn on red (3 years)
- Driving without lights/excessive lights (3 years)
- Fail to Obey Highway Sign (3 years)
- Stopping on a Highway (3 years)
- Evading Traffic Control Device (3 years)
- Driving Without a License (3 years)
- Hit and Run (3 years) (Damage to Unattended Property)
- Texting While Driving (3 years)
- Watching Television While Driving (3 years)
- Speeding 10-19 mph above the posted speed limit (5 years)
- Failure to yield right-of-way (3 years)
- Following too closely (3 years)
- Improper signal (3 years)
- Disregard Crossing Guard (3 years)
- Fail to Move Over/Disregard Police Officer Signal to Stop (3 years)
- Passing stopped school bus (non-reckless)(3 years)
- Failure to obey traffic signal (3 years)
- Hit and Run (3 years or 11 years) (Damage to Unattended Property less than or more than $500)
- Speeding 20 mph or more above the posted speed limit (5 years)
- Reckless Driving (11 years)
- Driving While License Suspended (11 years)
- DUI/DWI (11 years)
- Eluding (3 years or 11 years)
- Hit and Run (11 years) (Injury to Person or Damage to Property $1,000 or more)
More Information on points can be found at http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/drivers/
What are Safe Driving Points?
Safe driving points are assigned for each full calendar year that you hold a valid Virginia driver's license and drive without any violations or suspensions. For example, when you obtain a Virginia driver's license, you start with a 0 balance. If you were to get a speeding ticket during that first year, such as 44mph/35mph zone, you'd have a minus 3. Following 3 years of good driving behavior with no violations, you would be a 0 points again. In 5 years of good driving behavior, you would be at +5 (the best record you can have in Virginia.
Driver Improvement Courses For Your Traffic Ticket
An individual can take a VA DMV-approved driver improvement course and receive +5 points on their Virginia driving record every two years. In addition, it can be very helpful to bring the certificate of completion to court to show that the driving behavior that led to the speeding ticket or other traffic ticket has been changed for the better after education.
A few courses that are DMV-approved we can recommend are the following:
a) Fairfax ASAP: 703-246-2727;
b) AA Driving Academy: 703-478-6800; and
Traffic Ticket Help
As indicated in the Reckless Driving Section of this Website, relevant factors include:
1) Driving Record
2) Driver Improvement Course
3) Traffic Stop Cooperation
4) Speedometer Test
5) Radar Calibration
What are good outcomes for your Traffic Ticket?
Unlike Reckless Driving cases where we are looking to get the charge reduced anyway we can, with simple traffic tickets, we are looking for either dismissal or a reduction to a non-moving violation. In Fairfax County, taking traffic school will, many times, lead to a reduction of the charge. For example, Failing to Obey a Highway Sign can be reduced to either Defective Equipment, under the State Code, or Failing to Pay Full Time and Attention, under the Fairfax County Code. Neither reduction is a moving violation and both carry no demerit points. And in Prince William County, in many cases, people can take traffic school for dismissal of their traffic ticket provided they have a good driving record and have not recently taken traffic school for such purposes.
Your Day in Traffic Court
If you are represented by a Fairfax Traffic Ticket Lawyer, your court appearance will be different than those without a lawyer. In Fairfax County, your lawyer will “pass the case” which means the Judge will not call your name during the docket. Instead, your file will be on the prosecutor's desk and the Judge will only call those individuals representing themselves pro se. The prosecutor will then speak with the officer's, witnesses, and victims, if any, of those cases where the Defendant is represented by a lawyer.
Once the prosecutor has done so, your lawyer will then have an opportunity to speak with the prosecutor to get discovery (essentially, what their evidence is). During that time, your lawyer will also attempt work out a favorable resolution for your traffic case. This is the time in which your lawyer will present mitigating evidence to the prosecutor, such as driver improvement course certificates, speedometer calibrations, etc. In a traffic case, the lawyer will work to reduce or dismiss the charge depending on the facts.
Once your traffic ticket lawyer has spoken to the prosecutor, they will come get you from the courtroom and you will discuss the plea offer that has been made. Some prosecutors are more lenient than others and offer better plea bargains than others. In the event you are offered a plea bargain that does not suit your expectations, your lawyer will have one of two options: (i) ask the court to continue the case to the officer's next traffic date, or (ii) go to trial.
In Fairfax County, there is a trial advisement and plea forms that must be signed in the event you and lawyer have worked out a plea bargain with the prosecutor. The plea form will set forth the charge and the agreement. The client must read the form carefully and ask their lawyer any questions before signing it. In traffic ticket cases, generally, it's fairly straight forward. Presumably, a good deal would be a reduction from a traffic ticket to a lesser offense such as a non moving violation, with a fine. If signed and agreed, you traffic ticket lawyer would then hand up the plea form to the Judge for them to execute the plea agreement. At that point, the Judge is merely a scrivener of sorts and incorporates the plea agreement in the file.
In traffic ticket cases, the presiding Judge will typically “strike” the traffic charge by crossing it out on the summons or warrant and insert whatever reduced charge has been worked out. The clerk will then update the Virginia Case Information System accordingly.
We always recommend people appear in court with a lawyer. At the Letnick Law Firm PLC, we have had the privilege of hearing our clients say how much easier we made it for them when they hired us as their lawyer. They don't have to say anything to the officer or Judge and they know they have an experienced Traffic Ticket Lawyer working for them.
Do you need to appear for Traffic Court?
In simple traffic cases in Fairfax County, your Fairfax Traffic Ticket Lawyer can appear on your behalf for court. While it depends on the speed and your record, the lawyers at Letnick Law Firm PLC have appeared on the client's behalf hundreds of times so that the client does not need to take the time out of their day to miss work or family obligations. In the event we go to Court and it turns out we need the client present to resolve the case, we will simply continue (move) the case to another day for the client's appearance at that later date. This method saves valuable time for the client and keeps the dockets lighter for the Judges in court. In addition, we have not had it negatively affect the outcome of the case. At the conclusion of the case, we contact the client letting them know the result and the fines and court costs, if any. It should be noted that prior to your court date, we will discuss with you the likely outcomes of your traffic ticket.
Your Free Initial Consultation
We offer a no obligation Free Initial Consultation to discuss your traffic ticket case. You can either come in for an in-office appointment or do a telephone conference. We will talk about the facts of your case, whether any mitigating evidence is necessary, the price for the representation, and the next steps. While each case is different, our fees are reasonable. We like being in court and enjoy helping people. We can help you too.
Finding the Best Traffic Ticket Lawyer
Choosing your Fairfax Traffic Ticket Lawyer is vitally important to your case. There are thousands of lawyers in the Northern Virginia area but only a handful can properly handle your case. Certainly, you would not want to hire a civil lawyer to handle your traffic case. A traffic ticket lawyer is generally in court everyday and appear in front of the same judges and prosecutors on a consistent basis. This relationship with the court is not established when an attorney appears in court once a month. The best way to find the best lawyer for your case is to do your research and meet with the lawyers you're considering. Make sure they answer all of your questions and make sure that they consistently represent people on such cases. Traffic cases can result in serious consequences and should be handled by a competent traffic ticket lawyer.
Traffic Ticket Lawyer Cost
The cost for a Fairfax Traffic Ticket Lawyer will depend on the individual's speed and their driving record. Typically, the lower the speed and the better the driving record, the lower the fee. Traffic ticket cases are generally cheaper than reckless driving cases. We offer very competitive flat rates (i.e. one-time fee) on all traffic ticket cases. We will quote you the fee during your free initial consultation so that you can then decide if it works for you.