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 at 703-273-4100 or use the contact form below and we would be happy to explain the penalties and your options.
Our goal in the Fairfax County General District Court is to work towards a reduction of your traffic ticket to no-point offense or for outright dismissal. In many types of traffic 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 while they are driving. 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 traffic lawyer for a traffic ticket. We regularly handle traffic tickets in the Fairfax County General District Court, Fairfax City General District Court, Town of Vienna Court, and Town of Herndon Court. Give us a call or use the contact form below.
Should you prepay your Fairfax County 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)
- Holding a Cellphone 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)
- 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
c) http://www.idrivesafely.com (online course)
Traffic Ticket Help for Fairfax County Courts
As indicated in the Reckless Driving Section of this Website, the Fairfax County Court takes several factors into consideration when deciding an appropriate outcome for a traffic case. Relevant factors include the person's driving record, traffic stop cooperation with the officer, any driver improvement course taken or speedometer test, and any legal issues in the case such as the proper functioning of the police officer's speed measurement devices.
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.
Your Day in the Fairfax County Traffic Court
If you are represented by a Fairfax Traffic Ticket Lawyer, your court appearance will be different than those without a lawyer (otherwise known as appearing “pro se”). Going to court can be a scary process but it does not have to be. We are in court every day and can help you navigate the court system and will do everything we can to make the process as stress-free as possible.
The Fairfax County Court Information
When you receive a traffic ticket in Fairfax County, the case will be heard in either the Fairfax County General District Court, Fairfax City General District Court, Town of Vienna Court, or the Town of Herndon Court depending on where in the County you received the ticket. Check your summons carefully because there are 4 different courthouses in which your case can be heard depending on where the offense occurred. Your summons will have the courthouse address where you will need to go.
Each court will be presided over by a Fairfax County General District Court Judge. Currently, in the Fairfax County General District Court, there is no prosecutor involved in most cases so there are no plea agreements available. Consequently, most matters in the Fairfax County General District Court will be decided entirely by the Judge. The Fairfax City Court has a City Prosecutor that prosecutes its cases while both the Town of Vienna and Town of Herndon have Town Attorneys (prosecutors) that prosecutes those cases. Most of our cases heard in Fairfax City, the Town of Vienna, and the Town of Herndon will be resolved by plea agreement with a prosecutor for a reduction of the charge or, in some cases, dismissal.
For your court date, you will want to arrive at least 20 minutes before your court date. This will give you time to park, go through courthouse security, and find a place to sit in your assigned courtroom. In each court you can bring in your cellphone. In those cases where we appear on our client's behalf, the only thing they will need to do is keep their cellphone nearby that morning so we can keep them apprised of the proceedings.
When you appear for your court date, you will be given 3 options: You can plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty. If you plead guilty or no contest to the charge the only thing left for the Judge to decide is punishment. If you plead not guilty, you will have a trial (in most cases trials are heard later in the docket so the Judge can dispose of the quicker matters first). It will be up to the Judge whether they reduce the charge or dismiss it. A Fairfax County Judge may reduce a charge if it is the person's first traffic ticket, they have no prior record, the offense was minor, and/or was cooperative with the police officer during the stop. Otherwise, if the Judge finds you guilty, they will simply issue punishment that corresponds with the charge as it was written by the police officer. Of course, if the Judge finds you not guilty of the offense following a trial, the charge will be dismissed.
That said, 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 police 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 frequently appear in the Fairfax County General District Court, Fairfax City General District Court, Town of Herndon Court, and Town of Vienna Courts.
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. The best 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. We regularly handle traffic tickets in the Fairfax County General District Court, Fairfax City General District Court, Town of Vienna Court, and the Town of Herndon Court.
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.
Appealing a Conviction for a Traffic Ticket in Fairfax County
We regularly handle traffic appeals in Fairfax County. Sometimes we must appeal our cases in the event the case does not go as expected. In other cases, our clients may have handled the case by themselves in General District Court and the Judge found them guilty and wish to hire us for their appeal. In either case, you have options if the Judge finds you guilty in General District Court.
If you are found guilty of a traffic ticket in Fairfax County, you have the right to appeal the case within 10 calendar days to the Fairfax County Circuit Court. This results in a new trial (called “de novo”) and essentially wipes out anything that happened in the lower court. You will get a new Judge or Jury to decide your case. Sometimes appeals are worthwhile simply because you now have more time to perform additional mitigation for court.
To note your appeal for a traffic ticket in Fairfax County, you will need to appear in Room 106 of the Fairfax County General District Court. This office is called the Traffic Division and is where you will appear before a clerk to note your appeal. You will have the option to have a Judge hear your case (called a bench trial) or have a Jury decide your case (called a jury trial). Most cases are simply set for a bench trial and a Circuit Court Judge decides the traffic case on appeal. Your appeal will be heard on the 4th or 5th floor of the Fairfax County Courthouse. In most cases we receive a better result on appeal than in the General District Court but not all traffic cases are appropriate for appeal and an attorney should be consulted first. This is because it is still possible to receive a worse result in Circuit Court on appeal so the case result in the General District Court should be considered first. Most of the time we can assess this fairly quickly and help you make the right decision.