Getting a traffic ticket is frustrating and annoying, especially when you know the officer made a mistake. But many people think that contesting a ticket is a waste of time, so they pay for tickets even when they know they didn’t do anything wrong. However, most people don’t realize that a traffic ticket or violation stays on your record for several years.
You could face serious legal and financial problems if you accumulate traffic violations. That’s why it’s important to fight to keep them off of your record. You stand a better chance of successfully contesting your traffic ticket when you have help from a highly experienced and successful traffic defense attorney like Michael Pignone. Mr. Pignone has been helping good people get out of bad situations since 1995, and he’d be honored to help you keep your driving record as clean as possible.
How Long Does a Traffic Ticket Stay on Your Record?
Virginia’s traffic laws are tough. The penalties are severe, and the long-term effects can be harsh. The harsh penalties are intended to punish those who violate traffic laws and deter people from repeatedly committing the same offense.
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) established a demerit points system to keep track of bad drivers. Each traffic ticket conviction goes on your record and stays there for a set period of time. The length of time it remains on your record depends on the severity of the offense. The DMV will take corrective action—like ordering you to complete a safe driving course or suspending your license—if you accumulate too many demerit points.
However, Virginia’s demerit point system can be confusing. Demerit points come off your record every two years, but traffic violation convictions remain on your driving history until the designated time period elapses. And to further confuse things, the Virginia DMV’s demerit point system is not related to your insurance company’s point program. They are two distinct ranking systems. Therefore, your insurance company could assess points on your license and charge you a higher premium because you have a history of traffic tickets.
How Long Does Your Traffic Ticket Violation Stay on Your Record?
Virginia has three categories of ticket offenses. They are:
- Six-point violations,
- Four-point violations, and
- Three-point violations.
Each category of offense will come off of your record in the amount of time designated by the DMV. These offenses include any out-of-state violations as well.
Six-point offenses typically remain on your record for 11 years unless designated as an offense that will remain on your record permanently. Six-point offenses include:
- Felony and misdemeanor reckless driving offenses;
- DUI convictions;
- Manslaughter convictions;
- Habitual driving offender convictions;
- Driving on a suspended license;
- Failing to stop after a crash involving death or personal injury; and
- Eluding police.
Some six-point offenses stay on your record for only three or five years. However, commercial drivers should expect a six-point offense to remain on their driving record permanently.
In general, four-point violations stay on your record from 3-11 years, depending on the violation. However, most four-point offenses stay on your record for either three or five years.
For example, speeding offenses that do not exceed 20 miles per hour above the speed limit and aggressive driving offenses remain on your record for five years. However, unsafe passing or failing to stop or yield convictions remain on your record for three years.
Most other offenses will come off your record after three years. The most notable exception involves infractions committed by commercial motor vehicle drivers—which stay permanently on your record.
Three-point offenses generally stay on your record for three years. However, commercial drivers are treated a bit differently in at least two situations—when alcohol is detected in their blood or when they text and drive. Alcohol offenses for commercial drivers generally stay on their record permanently, and texting and driving will stay on their record for five years. All other three-point offenses, with perhaps limited exceptions, can be removed after three years.
Safe Driving Points in Virginia
Virginia also rewards safe drivers. You can earn one safe point for every calendar year in which you do not pick up a traffic violation or license suspension. The Virginia DMV allows you to amass five safe points. The DMV also allows you to pick up safe driving points if you complete a safe driving course that was not court-ordered. If court-ordered, only the court can award safe driving points for taking such a class.
The Virginia DMV awards safety points in April for the previous year. But the DMV tacks on your demerit points as soon as the DMV receives a copy of a conviction from the court.
How Can You Contest a Virginia Driving Ticket?
You admit responsibility when you pay a ticket. There is really no way to fix it once you’ve paid for the ticket. The court will notify the DMV of the conviction, and then the DMV will take the appropriate action on your license.
Getting a skilled and dedicated traffic defense lawyer involved right away could dramatically increase your odds of beating a ticket. Even if you know you’re responsible for the moving infraction, fighting it in court could get your ticket knocked down to a lesser offense.
Sometimes you can beat the case altogether if you have a valid defense to your traffic citation. For instance, the officer might have cited the wrong vehicle for speeding or falsely believed that you were responsible for causing an accident when it was really someone else.
The Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone: Ready to Fight for You
When you have a traffic citation, talk with Michael Pignone before paying the ticket. The chances are good that Michael has seen a case like yours before. He’s been fighting for the rights of the accused since 1995. With over 10,000 clients served, there are few factual scenarios Michael has not handled. Contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone today to find out more about his award-winning service and dedication to preserving your rights.