Stafford County Traffic Lawyer
Traffic offenses can vary in Stafford County, from simple traffic infractions such as speeding charges or disregarding a highway sign, to more serious misdemeanor traffic offenses, such as reckless driving, driving while intoxicated, or driving while suspended. Essentially, anything having to do with a vehicle or the operation of that vehicle is considered a traffic offense in Stafford County. Despite this wide range of offenses, all traffic offenses can carry a number of penalties with the potential to impact your license and, in certain cases, your freedom.
It is important those facing traffic offenses consult with an experienced Stafford County traffic lawyer to mitigate the damage and build a strong defense. A defense attorney in Stafford can ensure you know exactly what you are facing and prepare you for what to expect.
There is a wide range of penalties someone may face for a traffic charge depending on the offense and the circumstances surrounding it. If a person is charged with a traffic infraction, the only thing the court can do to that person is fine them. However, if a person is charged with a Class 1 misdemeanor such as reckless driving or DUI, the penalties can be more severe. The penalties are up to one year in jail and up to a $2,500 fine. For reckless driving, it can mean a potential six-month loss of license. For DUI it can mean up to a 12-month loss of license for a first offense, and up to three years for a second offense making it important that a Stafford traffic attorney is contacted.
Traffic offenses are broken into two categories, traffic infractions, and traffic misdemeanors. Those two categories are mutually exclusive. A traffic infraction can never be a traffic misdemeanor and a traffic misdemeanor can never be a traffic infraction. Some examples of traffic misdemeanors are the more obvious ones like driving while intoxicated, but most people that do not live in Virginia do not know that the act of driving too fast can be considered a criminal offense and can land a person in jail in Virginia.
Traffic offenses can be considered misdemeanors under several circumstances. If a person is charged with reckless driving, that is a criminal charge and a Class 1 misdemeanor. If a person is charged with DUI, it is a Class 1 misdemeanor. If someone is caught driving on a suspended license, it is also considered a misdemeanor, which can be punishable by jail time and an additional loss of license. A hit-and-run is another common traffic offense which is classified as a misdemeanor and warrants the attention of a traffic lawyer in Stafford County.
Serious hit-and-run charges can be considered felonies, where the dollar amount of the damages caused by the accident exceeds $1,000. Another traffic offense which can be considered a felony is being charged with a third offense of DWI. A third or subsequent DWI is always considered a felony.
Virginia has a system governed by the DMV which assigns certain points to a person’s driver transcript when they receive information that that person was convicted of a traffic offense. When a person is first licensed to drive, they start with zero points on their record. As they drive, for every year without any convictions on their record, they will receive one positive point on their driving record and the maximum points available to a person on their driving record is five positive points.
If a person is convicted of a traffic offense in Stafford County, they will receive negative points on their record, depending on the severity of the charge. The Virginia DMV has three categories of offenses – three-point violations, four-point violations, and six-point violations. When the DMV receives information about a person being convicted of a traffic offense, they will assess the number of points based upon that specific offense.
One of the principal things insurance companies look at when determining insurance rates is the person’s point balance. Hiring an attorney to dispute a traffic infraction can help someone get points off of their record. If they are able to get points off their record, it will save them money later by having reduced insurance rates over what they would have had if they were convicted and received a certain number of points.
Defense strategies depend on the facts and circumstances of each individual case. Stafford County traffic lawyers can look through the facts alleged by the government in the case and determine which of those facts the government can prove and which constitute a violation of the law. It is not uncommon for an officer to observe something, write a ticket for it, and it is not a violation of law. Attorneys need to hear about it and need to find out exactly what they are saying happened, exactly what they can prove, and exactly what an attorney can prove, to try to rebut whatever it is that the government is alleging.
Appealing a Charge
If a person is convicted of a misdemeanor in General District Court, the individual with their attorney have the right to appeal that conviction to Circuit Court. When they do that, any license suspension issued by the General District Court is put on hold, until the case can be heard from the beginning in Circuit Court. Beyond that, there are not many other ways a person can revisit the issue of a license suspension because once the judge has thoroughly considered the case against the defendant, they are unlikely to revisit that petition.
Working with a Traffic Attorney in Stafford County
A Stafford County traffic lawyer can help a person who is charged with a traffic violation by making sure they are fully aware of the circumstances they find themselves in and are ready for whatever might happen in court. Additionally, a lawyer can help a person do things in mitigation to soften their landing when they get to court, if it turns out the government is able to prove their case. This service could be invaluable, because in many cases the government is able to prove the case against the client, and when that happens the client should be ready to present evidence in mitigation.
Some traffic offenses are considered criminal offenses and if so an attorney is essential in preventing those charges from resulting in a criminal conviction in many cases. A lawyer can help if you are charged with any kind of traffic offense, because in traffic court, all of the rules, procedures, and burdens of proof remain the same. The government still must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. They must prove that all of the constitutional and statutory requirements that apply to criminal charges will apply in traffic court, as well.