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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

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. 

Four-Point Offenses

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

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. 

How Points Can Impact Your Driving Privileges in Virginia

With reference to “how long does a ticket stay on your record,” it is important to know that the DMV uses the demerit point system to keep an eye on drivers’ behaviors on the road. Every traffic violation you commit is given a specific number of points, depending on how severe it is. 

When you collect these driver’s license points, they serve as a major red flag to the DMV as they tell the agency that you are a dangerous driver. If you rack up too many points in a short period, the DMV may see you as a high-risk driver. For example, accruing 12 points in 12 months or 18 points in 24 months can result in mandatory attendance at a driver improvement clinic or a defensive driving course. If you don’t attend this training, your driver’s license can get suspended for good.

How Traffic Violations Can Affect Your Car Insurance Costs

Sometimes, multiple speeding tickets cost more than your license – they could also affect your car insurance premium. As you are assigned demerit points for a variety of offenses, you are labeled a “riskier driver”. Car insurance companies almost always consider these points when determining your monthly premium rates. The result is that the more points you have, the higher your car insurance rates might be.

Minor offenses, like a parking ticket, might not affect your rates at all. But more severe violations, such as DUIs or reckless driving, can cause a substantial increase in your auto insurance premiums. How long a speeding ticket stays on your record – due to repeat offense of breaking the posted speed limit – also plays a role here.

As far as your auto insurance company is concerned, committing all these serious offenses proves that you don’t care enough about your safety or others when you are on the road, and means they might have to pay out more in claims.

How We Can Help Remove or Reduce Violations from Your Driving Record

One mistake on the road should not define your life. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, our Virginia traffic violation lawyer knows that everyone makes mistakes and everyone deserves a fresh start. Don’t let a speeding ticket affect your future. When you work with us, we will leave no stone unturned to clean up your driving record. To that end, here are some of the steps we take:

Challenge the traffic stop

For a police officer to pull you over, they must have what is known as reasonable suspicion. If you were pulled over without a valid reason, any evidence the officer collects during the stop – finding illegal items in your car, smelling alcohol on your breath, and so on – could get thrown out in court. We will request the dashcam and bodycam footage from the police officers and their motor vehicles to see if it supports their claim for the stop. If the video doesn’t show you violating any rule, we can use that in your favor.

Negotiate with prosecutors

Our leading attorney, Michael A. Pignone, has a unique advantage when it comes to handling traffic violations in Virginia because of his experience on both sides of the courtroom. Having served as a prosecutor for the city of Manassas Park, Michael understands how the other side thinks. He knows what kind of evidence they use, what they might consider a strong or weak case, and what might make them reconsider the charges.

Over the years, Michael has built relationships with many local prosecutors. This doesn’t mean he gets special favors, but it does mean he can discuss the cases with them in an open, honest way. He can also effectively argue for reduced charges. 

Get your record expunged

Expungement refers to the legal process of erasing or sealing a charge from your public record. Not every traffic crime or speeding ticket in Virginia can be expunged, but if you qualify, it can mean hitting the undo button on the legal proceedings.

We can evaluate if your traffic crime charge is eligible for expungement. Every case is different, but generally speaking, we can seek to get your record expunged if you were found “not guilty: of the charge, the charge was dismissed, and you were granted an absolute pardon for the alleged crime.

We will guide you through the paperwork, represent you in court hearings, and argue on your behalf. The state is quite considerate of people with first-time offenses, so if you have never been in trouble before, we can help you. The expertise of our Virginia reckless driving lawyer team can be the difference between a successful and unsuccessful expungement.

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. 

Author Photo

Michael Pignone

Michael Pignone was raised and has lived in Prince William County since 1972. He attended public schools in the county and graduated high school from Osbourn High in Manassas. Following high school, he attended George Mason University where he graduated with honors from the Business School with a Bachelor’s Degree in Finance. He was then accepted into, and graduated with honors from, Suffolk Law School in Boston, Massachusetts. Before entering private practice, he clerked for the Prosecutor in the Prince William County Commonwealth’s Attorney’s Office.

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