Virginia police issue nearly 30,000 traffic tickets every year. Traffic court in Virginia is a massive ordeal, encompassing up to six courtrooms processing several hundred cases every day. While most tickets are relatively minor, and have minimal impact on a person’s driving record or insurance premiums, others could seem easy, but have far more serious consequences. That being the case, it’s a good idea to speak with a Virginia traffic lawyer before going to court, especially if you believe your insurance premiums could go up or that other problems could arise with a conviction.
It’s also a good idea to call if you’ve received several tickets in the past, as the Virginia DMV punishes drivers who have an excessive number of tickets over a short period of time. If any of those issues apply to you, call for a free consultation. If the officer has checked a box on your ticket indicating that you are required to appear in court, you should call a lawyer immediately, as presence in court is only required on jailable offenses. Checking the box doesn’t necessarily mean you will go to jail (or even that the officer will make the request), but it does mean that jail could be a possible outcome; it’s best to contact someone with experience in such matters.
It is important that anyone charged with driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, or driving on a suspended-DWI license, talk to a lawyer before going to court.
Driving without a License/No Operator’s License
This statute is a basic charge issued to someone who has failed to obtain a license to drive in the state of Virginia. While you should always discuss your charges with a lawyer, a conviction under this section is a Class 2 misdemeanor, and therefore not as severe for the first offense. A second or subsequent violation of this section, however, raises the classification to a Class 1 misdemeanor, which strongly increases your likelihood of receiving a jail sentence. If you are convicted under this section, the court may suspend your driving privileges for a period of up to 90 days. Furthermore, being convicted under this section is considered a three-point offense and will remain on your record for three years.
Driving on a Suspended License
This statute makes it illegal to drive once your license has been suspended. The suspension may be for a previous conviction, or the result of a failure to pay a fine or court costs on another ticket. The consequences of driving on a suspended license can be severe, and in addition to a fine and possible jail time, the court must suspend your license again. Additionally, you will be unable to get a restricted license (wherein you can drive, but with restrictions) during the period of suspension, meaning you will have to find other ways to get to work, school, etc. For those reasons alone, it’s in your best interest to contact a traffic lawyer and discuss your options prior to your court date. Traffic lawyers have several strategies at their disposal that could greatly improve your chances of getting a favorable result, and hopefully avoiding another loss of license.
Driving on a Suspended License – DWI related
This law applies if you are caught driving during while your license has been suspended for DWI or refusal conviction (refusal to submit to a blood alcohol level test), and is more criminal in nature than a traffic violation. It is a violation of this law to drive outside the terms of your restricted license, or to drive with any alcohol on your breath while your license is restricted.
If someone has been charged with DWI driving on a suspended license (a six-point offense that stays on your record for 11 years), two main concerns immediately come into play: First, if you are still on probation for the original DWI, the charge may result in the imposition of some suspended jail time. Second, the DMV will suspend your license for at least a year on any conviction. If you have been charged with a DWI-related driving on a suspended license, these additional issues are all the more reason to contact a traffic lawyer before going to court.