Take Your Traffic Offenses Very Seriously
Getting a criminal traffic charge cannot only ruin your day, but it can hurt all aspects of your life, including your job and livelihood, your family and social activities, as well as simple everyday acts that you take for granted. Just take a moment and think about the restrictions you will suffer if you are incarcerated, lose your license to drive, and on top of it required to pay lots of fines and court costs. You need a lawyer who has years of experience. Someone who will explain your options, research the current law, develop a strategy and help you beat the charges or work to get them reduced.
In the Commonwealth of Virginia there are three essential types of criminal traffic offenses:
- Status Offenses,
- Crimes based on driving behavior,
- Cases involving drugs and or alcohol.
With any of these types of crimes, you need to hire an attorney who can explain to you the possible consequences in your case. You will want to know “what is the law”? What are the defenses? How can we use the law to best defend you? If we do lose – what will happen? Should we go to trial or take a deal? These are all great questions. And for an attorney who has handled countless criminal cases, we can tell you what has happened in past. This is a means to give you a realistic view about what you are facing. But always know that we attorneys are not ethically permitted to make guarantees. We can only fight to obtain what is best for you.
Criminal Traffic Offenses based on Status of Driver
Driving without a license - Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-300
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, it is against the law to drive on its highways without a valid driver’s license. Requirements exist regarding a person applying for the privilege to drive, passing an exam, and actually obtaining a driver’s license. The license has to be legally sufficient to meet its proposed purpose and meant to authorize the driver to have permission to drive here. If you are caught driving without a license under Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-300 and convicted, the first violation will result in a Class 2 misdemeanor. Any subsequent convictions may result in a Class 1 misdemeanor. There is a potential for a (90) ninety-day loss of license.
Driving on a Suspended License - Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-301
A person can lose their license for many reasons, for example:
- Failure to pay child support,
- Failure to pay court fines,
- Accumulating too many points for driving violations in a specified period of time,
- Failing to attend driver improvement clinic when required to do so, Crimes such as Reckless driving, Hit & Run, Eluding, and more.
To be convicted of driving while your license, permit or privilege to drive has been suspended and/or revoked license, the prosecution should demonstrate:
- That you were driving
- Your driver’s license, driver’s permit, or privilege to drive has been suspended or revoked,
- The Court or Commissioner of the Virginia Department for Motor Vehicles (DMV) has directed you not drive,
- You have been forbidden to do so by Operation of Law as proscribed by certain statutes.
Statutes or Ordinances.
If found guilty, you can be convicted of a Class 1 misdemeanor. A third offense within a (10) ten-year period will land in you in jail for a mandatory minimum time of ten days unless you can prove extreme emergency to save life and limb. Of course, further loss of license is a possible consequence.
Driving after license has been forfeited - Va. Code Ann. § 18.2-272
In the Commonwealth of Virginia, if your license has been taken away for drunk driving, driving under the influence, an unreasonable refusal to provide breadth sample when charged with a DWI or DUI, your license is forfeited for one year. Often, the Courts will order a Restricted License to drive to and from work, probation, church, and to court ordered child visitation, and more. In extreme cases or subsequent conviction(s) you may be denied this privilege. In the first instance, when you are granted a restricted license, if you operate a vehicle outside the scope of permission given to you and are found guilty of doing such, you should lose your license to drive for an additional year. If you were never granted a restricted license and are convicted of driving, you will receive the same type of punishment. This conviction will be a class (1) misdemeanor. Fines and Court costs should be expected.
Traffic Crimes based on Behavior
Eluding - Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-817
It is against the law in the Commonwealth of Virginia to disregard a signal by law enforcement to stop. A conviction can result in a Class 2 misdemeanor, a Class 6 felony, or a Class 4 felony (when an officer is killed as direct and proximate cause of pursuit). The difference between a misdemeanor (2) and felony primarily focuses on interference and endangerment.
Under this Code, there is a loss of license of not less than (30) days nor more than (1) one year.
However, there is a mandatory minimum of (90) days loss of license when driving more than (20) mph over the speed limit during the act.
There are no restricted licenses given for this Eluding Convictions.
Hit & Run - Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-894
A driver has a duty to stop at the scene of an accident. The driver must report his or her name, address, driver’s license number, and vehicle registration. This must be done with law enforcement and other necessary parties. Reasonable assistance to the injured is required.
Depending on injury, death, and the amount of damage, a party convicted of violating this statute will be found guilty of either a Class (5) felony or Class (1) misdemeanor. If there is property damage, one may lose his or her license for a period not to exceed (6) months. In addition, the Department of Motor Vehicles can suspend the license even in instances where the court has not done so.
There are no restrictive license given for Hit & Run Convictions.
It is important to know that Reckless Driving is a serious traffic offense which is considered criminal and when found guilty, the result is a Class (1) misdemeanor. One exception is when a driver committed an offense while his or her license was suspended or revoked and was the sole and proximate cause of another’s death. This would be charged as a Class 6 felony. Persons carrying a cell phone during the act will suffer a mandatory $250.00 fine. There are several ways you can be charged with driving recklessly.
- Driving on right side of highway § 46.2-802
- General reckless Driving - Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-852
- Reckless vehicle not under control or faulty brakes § 46.2-853
- Passing on crest of road or at curve § 46.2-854
- Driving with driver’s view obstructed § 46.2-855
- Passing two vehicles abreast § 46.2-856
- Driving two abreast in single lane § 46.2-857
- Passing at railroad crossing § 46.2-858
- Passing a stopped school bus § 46.2-859
- Fail to give proper signal § 46.2-860
- Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions § 46.2-861
- Driving too fast for highway and traffic conditions § 46.2-862
- Failure to yield the right of way § 46.2-863
- Reckless driving on Parking Lots - § 46.2-864
The Department of Motor Vehicles has developed a demerit point system regarding traffic violations. A ”reckless driving” violation has been assigned (6) points which is the highest and is the same as a simple DWI or DUI conviction. A reckless driving conviction stays on your driving record for (11) years. For most type of reckless driving convictions, the court may suspend a license for not less than (60) days nor more than (6) six months. Restrictive licenses are not prohibited.
Racing - Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-865
No person shall race vehicles against others on highways, church premises, school grounds, recreational facility or business facility held open to public. The Court can find one guilty of reckless and order a loss of license nor more than (2) years.
Persons who aid and abet racing may be found guilty of Class (1) misdemeanor.
Automobiles may be seized by the Commonwealth under certain circumstances.
Aggressive Driving - Va. Code Ann. § 46.2-865
Aggressive driving is a Class (2) misdemeanor and applies to a variety of different driving behaviors. Examples include but are not limited to: Driving on the right side of highway, failure to observe lanes marked for traffic, following too closely, overtaking a vehicle, stopping while on highway, and more. In addition, the party must be a hazard to others or commit mentioned and other acts with intent to harass, intimidate, injure or obstruct. The intent to injure raises the punishment to a Class (1) misdemeanor.
Traffic Offenses Involving Minors
Juvenile and Domestic Relations and Traffic Violations by Minors
The Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court may impose only the same penalties which may be imposed on adults for traffic violations. However, the Department of Motor Vehicles may treat adult and children differently. The Courts function to punish drivers who break the laws. The Commissioner of the DMV administratively may order a suspension due to its concern for the public’s safety.Children may suffer loss of driving privileges based on use of alcohol, firearm and drug offenses and for truancy. Va. Code Ann. § 16.1-278.9.Call the Criminal Defense Lawyer Sheryl Shane for General District Court, Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court (JD&R), and Circuit Court Criminal and Traffic Matters.