As the holiday season gets into full swing, police departments across the country are increasing their presence on the roadways. Combined with the stress and the increased traffic of the season, this means that more drivers will end up with tickets for speeding, reckless driving, and various other traffic infractions during the next month. It is important to know that in addition to the negative consequences–for example, DMV points, increased insurance premiums, and fines–of a simple traffic infraction, some tickets are also misdemeanor and felony criminal offenses.
In Virginia, reckless driving–which includes driving 20 mph over the speed limit regardless of any other factor–is a misdemeanor criminal offense. Simply paying the fine and not challenging the ticket results in a guilty plea to a misdemeanor offense. It is often worth challenging the ticket through the assistance of an attorney and trying to receive a reduced charge to a non-criminal infraction. This is particularly appropriate around the Washington, D.C., region where background checks and security clearances are essential requirements for many jobs.
Similarly, driving on a suspended license and many alcohol-based driving offense are also criminal infractions. While it is not always possible to avoid a criminal conviction, depending on the specific facts of each case, it is always advisable to discuss your situation with an attorney prior to deciding whether to plead guilty and pay the fine or whether to challenge the ticket. A little bit of time on the front end will give you greater assurance that you are making the right decision.
And with the new year right around the corner, this is a great time to start fresh by ensuring you are up-to-date on your registration, insurance, and license requirements. Take the time to fix any issues now, before they become a bigger headache during your next traffic stop.
Similarly, if your Virginia driving record indicates that you have a low or negative points balance (you can view your record here), consider voluntarily attending a DMV-approved driver’s improvement course. Attending a course found here voluntarily, rather than at the direction of a court, can result in an additional five positive points on your record.
Please contact the law office to discuss your specific legal needs. Happy Holidays and safe driving!