Having a driver’s license makes life easier. In fact, if you are like most people, the thought of going even a week without driving is almost unimaginable. How will you get to work, take your children to school, or get to the grocery store? At the same time, we all make mistakes, and no driver is perfect. If you are facing one or more traffic violations, your driver’s license may be at stake. Not all traffic violations are the same. In some cases, traffic offenses are criminal in nature, meaning that you could even end up in jail.
At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, our Manassas traffic violations lawyer helps motorists get out from under the harshest consequences of tickets, citations, and other traffic offenses. We can help keep points off your record, keep your license in your wallet, and keep you out of jail. And the more violations you rack up, the more likely it is that you’ll suffer an extended period of time without driving privileges or spending some time in jail. If you have a driving history with multiple recent violations, it is vital that you consult an experienced Manassas traffic violations lawyer before paying the new ticket. Contact us today.
Types of Traffic Violations
Under Virginia law, a traffic offense can be a civil infraction, a misdemeanor, or a felony.
In most cases, traffic tickets for speeding, running a red light, or failing to yield the right-of-way results in a civil infraction. Civil infractions do not carry the possibility of jail time but can add points to your record and carry a hefty fine.
Criminal Traffic Violations
Some traffic offenses not only add points to your record, but also subject you to possible criminal penalties—including jail time. A serious traffic violation may be either a misdemeanor or felony offense. It is especially important to discuss your case with a Manassas traffic violations attorney if you face felony or misdemeanor charges.
Misdemeanor traffic violations include things such as:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol;
- Driving under the influence of drugs;
- Driving without proof of insurance;
- Driving on a suspended license;
- Reckless driving; and
- Aggressive driving.
The seriousness of a misdemeanor varies, depending on the nature of the offense. However, if you are convicted of a misdemeanor traffic offense, you could face a term of imprisonment of up to a year and a fine of up to $2,500.
Felony Traffic Violations
Felony traffic violations are the most serious and can carry lengthy jail sentences. A few examples of felony traffic offenses include:
- DUI accident causing death or serious injury; and
- Fleeing the scene of an accident that resulted in another’s injury.
Regardless of the nature of the offense you face, the experienced Manassas traffic violations attorney at the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone can help. We handle both the criminal and administrative side of traffic violation cases.
Will My License Be Suspended if I Pay a Traffic Ticket?
It depends. Paying a ticket may result in the DMV suspending your license, but that isn’t always the case. The important thing to remember is that paying a ticket is the same thing as pleading guilty to whatever offense the State charged you with. Thus, by paying the ticket, you give up your right to contest it or question the officer’s actions. In some cases, that’s not a problem. However, if you already have demerit points on your record, paying a ticket is more likely to result in the DMV suspending your license. Essentially, the more demerit points you have on your record, the higher the likelihood your license will be suspended.
How Many Points Do Virginia Traffic Offenses Carry?
Like many other states, Virginia uses a points-based system to determine whether to suspend a person’s driver’s license. The DMV adds a certain number of demerit points for every citation you receive. For adult drivers, you can accrue up to 12 demerit points in 12 months or 18 points within 24 months without serious consequences. However, the DMV requires you to take a driving improvement clinic once you cross that threshold. If you fail to take this course, the DMV will suspend your driver’s license. Additionally, the DMV will suspend your license if you accrue more than 18 demerit points within 12 months or 24 demerit points within 24 months.
The DMW adds demerit points to your record whenever you are convicted of a traffic violation.
The number of demerit points added to your record depends on the offense. All traffic offenses carry either three, four, or six points.
Three-Point Traffic Offenses
- Driving without a license;
- Evading a traffic control device;
- Improper turns and U-turns;
- Making a prohibited turn at a red light;
- Speeding at a rate 1 – 9 miles per hour over the posted speed limit;
- Stopping on the highway; and
- Using a cellphone while driving.
Four-Point Traffic Offenses
- Disobeying a traffic signal;
- Failure to yield the right-of-way;
- Following too closely;
- Passing a stopped school bus; and
- Speeding at a rate of 10 – 19 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
Six-Point Traffic Offenses
- Driving on a suspended license;
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI);
- Fleeing the scene of an accident;
- Reckless driving; and
- Speeding at a rate of 20 or more miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
Regardless of the type of ticket you received, an experienced Manassas driver’s license lawyer at the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone will do everything possible to keep you on the road.
Defending Against Manassas Driving Under the Influence Charges
One of the most common criminal traffic offenses is driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol. While some states use the terms DUI and DWI (driving while intoxicated) to refer to different offenses, both these terms refer to the same underlying offense. In Virginia, it is illegal to drive a vehicle with a blood-alcohol content of .08 or more. It is also against the law to drive with any amount of an illegal drug in your system or enough prescribed medication to render you unsafe to drive.
In most cases, when police officers suspect a driver is under the influence, they will ask the motorist to take a chemical test. By accepting a Virginia driver’s license, you implicitly agree to consent to chemical testing when asked by a police officer. If you refuse, you will face an administrative license suspension in addition to whatever criminal sanctions the court imposes if you are found guilty.
However, notwithstanding the automatic suspension, in some situations, it may make sense to refuse a chemical test. This is because the lack of chemical test results can make it much harder for the government to prove you guilty of a DUI offense. For example, if you have several prior DUIs and are looking at a long jail sentence if you are found guilty, you may choose to refuse a blood or breath test in hopes of beating the case. You will still suffer an administrative license suspension, but it certainly beats the alternative.
If you consented to chemical testing, a Manassas traffic violation lawyer may be able to keep the test results out of evidence. For example, if police officers ordered you to take a test for no reason or made some other error, the result may be inadmissible. Similarly, if there is a problem with the chain of custody of the sample you provided, the government may not be able to admit the test results at trial. If a Manassas traffic violations lawyer can keep this evidence out, the likelihood of beating the case goes up significantly.
Manassas Traffic Violations Attorney
If you risk losing your license due to too many traffic violations or you were arrested for a criminal traffic offense, contact a Manassas traffic violations attorney immediately. At the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone, we get good people out of bad situations. We have handled over 1,000 cases in Manassas and across the Commonwealth and know what it takes to defend against even the most serious allegations. To learn more and to schedule a free consultation, contact the Law Offices of Michael A. Pignone today. You can also reach us through our online contact form.