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The Virginia DMV Point System

In Virginia, there is a point system used that can negatively or positively impact your driving record.  This point system is used to determine insurance rates and is also used by the court system.  Outlined below is some general information about the DMV point system and how it operates. Demerit Points - These are assigned when you are convicted of a traffic violation and remain valid two years from the date that you commit the offense.  Some more serious offenses will stay on your driving record longer than two years and if you have a commercial driver's license can even remain on your driving record permanently.  Each time that you commit a traffic offense, DMV adds additional demerit po

The First Amendment: Language That Is Not Protected

The First Amendment of the United States Constitution is one of the founding principles that our country is based on.  It gives us as Americans the ability to debate and speak our minds without fear of persecution from our government.  The full text of the First Amendment reads: Congress shall make no law respecting an establishment of religion, or prohibiting the free exercise thereof; or abridging the freedom of speech, or of the press; or the right of the people peaceably to assemble, and to petition the Government for a redress of grievances. Throughout our history several cases have shaped the meaning of this language and left us with essentially nine categories of speech that are not p

Back to School: Getting Educated on School-related Traffic Offenses

School is back in session in Virginia which means that school buses are once again a common sight on our roads.  Keeping children safe is undoubtedly important, but what some people may not know is the damage that passing a stopped school bus can do to your criminal record. Passing a stopped school bus in Virginia is reckless driving and is classified as a Class 1 Misdemeanor.  This charge would appear on your criminal record and can dramatically impact your insurance rates, if convicted. The law states that a driver must stop when approaching from any direction, any school bus that is stopped, and must remain stopped until all persons are clear from the highway and the bus is put in motion.

Don't Let a DUI Dampen Your Holiday Cheer

Full-bodied stouts, red wine, and of course eggnog are all great alcoholic beverages to enjoy during the holiday season.  When enjoyed responsibly they won't interfere with the joyous time spent with family and friends.  If however, a person chooses to get behind the wheel after a few too many glasses of eggnog they could end up missing the holiday celebration all together. There were 200 crashes involving alcohol in Virginia last year from Christmas Eve until New Years Day.  Eight of those crashes resulted in a fatality and 135 were injured. Virginia State Police are increasing the use of sobriety checkpoints from now until the New Year.  During December alone, Virginia State Police plan on

How do I know how many points are on my driving record?

In most traffic cases it can be beneficial to obtain a copy of your driving record prior to your court date.  Several judges will look at your driving record when determining sentencing and it can be an important factor to the outcome of your case.  A good driving record can result in your case being drastically reduced or even dismissed.  A bad driving record, well, it's probably about to get worse. Many times the officer that stopped you will bring a copy of your driving record to court, but that isn't always the case so you shouldn't rely on that.  Additionally, if you are relying on the officer that means you and your attorney will not have seen the record until just minutes prior to you

Guilty or Not Guilty: Your Definitive Guide on How To Plead In Traffic Court

A question that I hear all the time is "What do I say when the judge asks 'guilty or not guilty'?" and if I'm talking to one of my clients I calmly reassure them that I will be able to answer that question for them and they have nothing to worry about. Now, if you're here and haven't retained legal counsel, then I will do my best, but ultimately this decision is up to you. A guilty plea is stating to the court that you have committed the crime or infraction that you have been charged with.  You are waiving your right to a trial, your right to question the officer or present witnesses.  At that point, you will move beyond the trial phase and to the sentencing phase of your court hearing.  The

Appealing a Decision From Traffic Court

You have the absolute right to appeal any final decision made in General District Court, but you must act quickly.  After your case has been heard and the judge has made a final decision you have ten days to note your appeal with the clerk.  As part of your appeal, you will receive a new trial in front of a new judge in Circuit Court. Once your appeal has been filed the ruling of the General District Court judge and all court costs are erased.  It will be as if you have not yet been to court for the matter.  Your court costs will be higher in Circuit Court and there is no guarantee that you will receive a better outcome.  In some cases the outcome may be worse than it was in General District

Guilty or Not Guilty: Your Definitive Guide on How To Plead In Traffic Court

A question that I hear all the time is "What do I say when the judge asks 'guilty or not guilty'?" and if I'm talking to one of my clients I calmly reassure them that I will be able to answer that question for them and they have nothing to worry about. Now, if you're here and haven't retained legal counsel, then I will do my best, but ultimately this decision is up to you. A guilty plea is stating to the court that you have committed the crime or infraction that you have been charged with. You are waiving your right to a trial, your right to question the officer or present witnesses. At that point, you will move beyond the trial phase and to the sentencing phase of your court hearing. The

The Importance of Being Polite and Cooperative

Being pulled over for speeding is certainly an event that can ruin your day. Don't let it ruin your insurance rates by arguing with the police officer that stopped you. Never at trial have I heard a police officer say, "Your Honor, after making the stop this gentleman got right in my face and made some great points, I'd like to dismiss the case." What I do hear at trial all the time is reckless driving and speeding charges being reduced because a driver was polite and cooperative with the officer during the traffic stop. When you are pulled over, it is important to remain calm and say as little as possible, you won't be able to convince the police officer that you weren't speeding and the m

How do I know how many points are on my driving record?

In most traffic cases it can be beneficial to obtain a copy of your driving record prior to your court date. Several judges will look at your driving record when determining sentencing and it can be an important factor to the outcome of your case. A good driving record can result in your case being drastically reduced or even dismissed. A bad driving record, well, it's probably about to get worse. Many times the officer that stopped you will bring a copy of your driving record to court, but that isn't always the case so you shouldn't rely on that. Additionally, if you are relying on the officer that means you and your attorney will not have seen the record until just minutes prior to you

 

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