Virginia traffic offenses can run the range of simple infractions, which are punishable only by fine, to crimes, which are punishable by jail, fines, and/or loss of your privilege to drive.
Virginia Traffic Infractions
Virginia traffic infractions are punished with fines. Va. Code §46.2-100 states that all traffic infractions will be punished with a fine of up to $250, unless stated otherwise or classified as a crime. Collateral consequences of an infraction conviction include points accrued on your Virginia driving record and an increase in your insurance rates. If you accumulate enough infractions (or criminal convictions), the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can suspend your license. Moreover, if you drive for a living your employer may require you have zero moving violations to remain in good standing with your company.
Most Virginia traffic infraction convictions will lead to DMV demerit points on top of any fines imposed by the court. The court does not have power to remove points from the offender’s driving record unless the charge is amended to a non-point violation. DMV demerit points can remain on your record for years (the precise time depends on the severity of the offense). It is important to remember that DMV points can carry serious consequences. For example, the DMV will suspend a driver’s license in Virginia for rapid point accumulation in a short period of time.
Virginia Traffic Crimes
Even though the police officer may only give you a ticket (summons) for your driving offense, the charge you are facing may actually be a crime, which can be punished with jail, fines, and/or a driver’s license suspension. Virginia traffic crimes include:
• Reckless driving (Va. Code §46.2-852)
• Reckless driving by Speed (Va. Code §46.2-862)
• Racing (Va. Code §46.2-865)
• Aggressive Driving (Va. Code §46.2-868.1)
• Driving While Intoxicated (DWI, DUI) (Va. Code §18.2-266)
• Driving without a License (Va. Code §46.2-300)
• Driving on a Suspended License (Va. Code §46.2-301)
• Driving on a Revoked License (DWI) (Va. Code §18.2-272)
• Hit and Run (Va. Code §46.2-894) and
• Eluding Police (Va. Code §46.2-817)
As you interact with police officers in a traffic stop remember that the Constitution of the United States and Virginia grant you certain rights. Consult with an experience Virginia traffic defense lawyer to ensure your rights were protected during your traffic stop.