Dumfries Traffic Attorney
The Commonwealth of Virginia has some of the toughest traffic laws in the nation; some traffic violations can even lead to criminal charges. Penalties for such crimes could range from fines to jail time, therefore it’s important to take any traffic citation seriously. If you are charged with a traffic violation, a Dumfries traffic lawyer can help you to understand the charges you face and help defend you in court. Our traffic attorneys have extensive experience with traffic-related charges within the Virginia court system and they are adept at providing a thorough defense, which puts you in the best possible position as you prepare to fight your case. We also handle criminal matters in Dumfries.
Traffic Infractions vs. Traffic Crimes
Traffic infractions are minor offenses, such as parking illegally or driving slightly over the speed limit, that are considered civil violations rather than crimes. While these infractions carry no risk of jail time, you may want to consider hiring a lawyer to help you fight the charges, especially in situations where additional points on your driver’s license could substantially increase your insurance premiums.
Traffic crimes, on the other hand, are much more serious. In addition to fines and points on your driver’s license, criminal traffic violations carry the additional possibility of incarceration. In the case of felony traffic convictions, prison time can be significant. For that reason, it is extremely important to seek legal counsel for any traffic violation that requires a court appearance.
Dumfries Traffic Lawyers Handle These Cases
There are various types of criminal traffic violations that drivers may commit on the roadways in Dumfries. These violations are serious and punishments for traffic crimes can be much more severe than for more minor offenses. Types of traffic crimes that drivers may be charged with include:
- Reckless driving
- Aggressive driving
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol
- Driving on a suspended/revoked license
Another serious traffic matter a Dumfries traffic lawyer can help with is reckless driving. The Commonwealth of Virginia defines reckless driving as the following: “Irrespective of the maximum speeds permitted by law, any person who drives a vehicle on any highway recklessly or at a speed or in a manner so as to endanger the life, limb, or property of any person shall be guilty of reckless driving.”
Examples of reckless driving include:
- Driving more than 80 mph (or 20 or more mph above the posted speed limit);
- Passing an emergency vehicle ;
- Passing a stopped school bus;
- Passing on the crest of a hill, on a curve, or at a railroad crossing;
- Driving too fast for road conditions ;
- Failure to give a proper signal ;
- Driving a vehicle that is not under the driver’s control (a vehicle with faulty brakes, for example);
- Driving with an obstructed view.
All of the above are Class 1 misdemeanor criminal offenses and carry the same penalties as other Class 1 misdemeanors, such as theft or shoplifting: incarceration of up to 12 months, a fine of $2,500, or both. While you’re unlikely to actually serve jail time for a misdemeanor traffic offense, a conviction means you will have a criminal record. In addition, these violations can be upgraded to felonies if a person dies as a result of the act.
Aggressive driving is similar to reckless driving; the difference is primarily one of intent. Tailgating someone to intimidate them into going faster is one example, along with weaving in and out of traffic or cutting other drivers off so you can get ahead of traffic. Unlike reckless driving, aggressive driving is a Class 2 misdemeanor, although it can be amended to a felony if it leads to the death of another person.
Driving Under the Influence
In Virginia, driving under the influence is most often considered a misdemeanor crime. Penalties increase with each offense, with the third offense being considered a felony rather than a misdemeanor.
- First offense: mandatory minimum fine of $250, license revoked for one year;
- Second offense: mandatory minimum fine of $500, license revoked for three years;
- Third offense: mandatory minimum fine of $1,000, mandatory indefinite license revocation, mandatory minimum jail time of 90 days or six months and up to 5 years in prison, felony record;
- Fourth offense: Mandatory minimum jail time of one year; felony record.
Driving with a Suspended/Revoked License
The Commonwealth of Virginia considers driving on a suspended or revoked license to be a misdemeanor, with penalties increasing for repeat offenses. Penalties for a first and second offense include jail time of up to 12 months, a fine of up to $2,500, and license suspension for up to 90 days. On the third offense, the penalties include all of the previous, but with a mandatory minimum jail time of 10 days.
Why Hire a Dumfries Traffic Attorney
Most people do not think they could develop a criminal record for driving 81 mph in a 65 mph zone, but that is definitely possible in Virginia. A criminal record can derail careers, make it more difficult to get loans, and, in the case of felony offenses, strip you of voting and other privileges.
That’s why it’s so important to retain a well-qualified traffic lawyer if you have been charged with a criminal traffic offense in Virginia. An experienced Dumfries traffic attorney will be able to help you determine the best defense to employ in your case, and will work hard to get the charges eliminated, or if that is not possible, reduced. If you have been charged with a traffic violation in Dumfries, contact our Virginia law offices.