A Driver's Guide to Virginia Speeding Tickets & Legal Strategies
Navigating Virginia’s Speeding Laws
Speeding violations in Virginia are subject to a complex set of laws and can vary significantly depending on several factors, including the location and the nature of the violation. Understanding the nuances of a Virginia speeding ticket is essential, as it might be charged differently than you might expect. There is no shortage of statutes under which a trooper, police officer, or sheriff’s deputy has the discretion to write a traffic ticket, but a few key ones are most relevant to the typical driver.
A Typical Virginia Speeding Ticket and Its Consequences
In Virginia, typical speeding tickets, which do not allege excessive speeding, are treated as infractions, a level of offense less severe than misdemeanors. These infractions are generally subject to penalties of up to $250. There are a few statutes under which you might see a speeding ticket of this type — Title 46.2 of the Code of Virginia has several. Common statutes you might see referenced on a Virginia speeding ticket include 46.2-870, 46.2-875, and 46.2-878. Each statute pertains to different speeding scenarios and understanding their specifics can be crucial in preparing a defense. Sometimes, these will also have a numerical prefix to designate that they’re being charged under a local code or ordinance, but they remain essentially the same.
Heightened Virginia Speed Ticket Penalties in Special Zones
Special consideration is given to speeding in properly marked highway work zones or safety zones in Virginia. Tickets issued in these areas can result in increased penalties, often under statutes providing for fines as high as $500, although it is still considered a traffic infraction and not a crime. It’s important for drivers to be aware of these enhanced penalties, especially in areas with clear signage about increased fines. If you see a warning about “speeding fines doubled” when approaching a work zone along the interstate, know that the authorities are not bluffing!
The silver lining with these types of charges is that they are categorized as infractions rather than criminal offenses. However, it’s important to recognize that they can still carry financial burdens in the form of fines and associated costs. Additionally, such infractions can lead to demerit points on your Virginia DMV record and potentially cause an increase in your automobile insurance premiums. Therefore, it’s crucial to take steps to mitigate or ideally eliminate these charges.
The Serious Nature of Reckless Driving Charges
A Virginia speeding ticket can escalate to a reckless driving charge, especially at higher speeds or in more dangerous circumstances. Reckless driving, specifically under Section 46.2-862, is treated as a class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia, with severe potential consequences including up to 12 months in jail and up to a $2500 fine. Reckless driving by speed applies when you drive (i) at a speed of 20 miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit, or (ii) in excess of 85 miles per hour (regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit).
If you are convicted of a reckless driving offense in Virginia, the law also gives judges the discretion to suspend your driver’s license for between 60 days and 6 months.
In addition to potential jail time, a far steeper potential fine, possible license suspension, and classification as a misdemeanor, reckless driving by speed also carries 6 demerit points with the Virginia DMV. That’s twice as much as many speeding tickets. It’s the same number of points on your license as you’d receive from a DUI conviction or for illegally racing your vehicle. Needless to say, these are all consequences that you will want to avoid at all costs.
The Impact of a Virginia Speeding Ticket on Your Record
A Virginia speeding ticket can carry consequences that extend well beyond the immediate financial burden of fines. Firstly, they can add demerit points to your driving record, maintained by the Virginia DMV. Accumulating these points can lead to heightened scrutiny on your driving habits and, in severe cases, may even result in the suspension of your driving privileges.
Furthermore, these points often catch the attention of auto insurance companies, leading to increased premiums. This can have a lasting financial impact, as higher insurance costs can persist for years following the infraction.
Additionally, the repercussions of a speeding ticket can permeate your professional life, especially if your job entails driving. Commercial drivers or those whose roles require a clean driving record may face serious employment consequences. For some, a speeding ticket might lead to disciplinary action from their employer, while for others, it could jeopardize job opportunities or lead to the revocation of professional driving privileges.
Options for Mitigating a Virginia Speeding Ticket
There is good news. There are ways to reduce or dismiss a speeding ticket. Judges see many drivers; some have terrible driving records, some don’t show up or respond to the ticket in any way, and some show up but have nothing in their favor to present. Some prepay and are never even seen by the judge. What this all means is that you have an opportunity to present well to the judge.
Luckily, the law provides several avenues for reducing the impact of a Virginia speeding ticket. These can include attending a driver improvement clinic, negotiating a reduction in the charge or fine, and in some cases, getting the ticket dismissed altogether. The specific strategy will depend on the details of your case and your driving history. A Virginia speeding ticket lawyer such as David G. Parker can assist you in preparing a defense crafted to the particulars of your Virginia speeding ticket.
Reduced Charges: Improper Driving
In certain circumstances, a charge of reckless driving can be reduced to improper driving, a lesser offense with reduced penalties. This option is often explored in court and depends on the specifics of your case, including your driving history and the circumstances of the alleged violation. It’s a fine example of how the more serious reckless driving cases can be reduced to a lesser charge in certain situations.
Improper driving is a strange charge in that it is not a charge that a police officer can write a ticket for; it can only be charged if the prosecutor or the judge feels that the degree of culpability is slight. Improper driving in Virginia is considered a traffic infraction instead of a misdemeanor, it caps out at a $500 fine, and results in only 3 demerit points with the Virginia DMV.
In many cases, aiming to have a reckless driving charge reduced to improper driving is the ideal approach. If the outcome is an improper driving conviction, you will have successfully:
- avoided any potential jail time
- reduced the maximum fine by $2000
- avoided a misdemeanor conviction
- cut the DMV demerit points in half (with the insurance consequences that follow being lessened as well).
There are, of course, other potential outcomes that are still beneficial if you have been charged with a speeding ticket of any kind in Virginia. The particular possibilities will depend on the specifics of your speeding ticket, your driving record, and other factors. Sometimes, dismissal after completing a driver improvement clinic is a very likely possibility. At other times, expectations have to be for a reduced fine or a reduced charge (such as speeding 12 mph over the limit to speeding 1-9 mph over the limit).
Seeking Assistance for a Virginia Speeding Ticket
For anyone facing a Virginia speeding ticket, the guidance of an experienced attorney can be invaluable. David G. Parker Law is an experienced Virginia lawyer and former prosecutor. With a deep understanding of local statutes and court processes, David G. Parker can help navigate your case, aiming for the best possible outcome. Whether it’s negotiating a reduced charge or representing you in court, David G. Parker Law is committed to advocating on your behalf. Contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your Virginia speeding ticket and take the first step toward resolving it effectively.