If you have received a ticket for “failure to observe traffic control device,” you may have questions and need an attorney to look at your ticket with you. The term, “failure to observe traffic control device,” simply means that you did not follow a sign or light on the road, but it is sometimes possible for you to get the charges reduced or dropped if there was any confusion about the sign or rules.
A good lawyer will be able to help you with terminology, confusion of signage, and reduction of charges, if possible.
As a driver, you are legally responsible to follow all the posted traffic signs and traffic lights—also known as “traffic control devices.” In the Commonwealth of Virginia, you can be cited for not following the signs. This charge comes with three demerit points on your record.
Often, you can take drivers training courses to get the demerit points off your record. For more on demerit points, see our blog post about driving record and point assessment in Virginia.
Most of the time, if you are cited for “fail to obey traffic control device” it simply means that you did not come to a full stop at a stop sign. It could also mean that you failed to yield at a yield sign or something similar.
If you are concerned that the charge is inaccurate, you want to avoid points on your license, or you simply need a lawyer’s set of eyes on the ticket, feel free to contact Cook Attorneys at any time for quick and helpful lawyer advice. We offer free consultations on traffic cases.
The law of Virginia, of course, requires your obedience to traffic control devices. This means that you must follow all posted signs on “highways” (which, for the purposes of the law, is any road open to the public anywhere in the state).
There is a sentence at the end of the statute that states you are off the hook if the sign is not posted, has fallen down, or is otherwise obscured. It states,
“No provision of this section relating to the prohibition of disobeying traffic control devices or violating local traffic control devices shall be enforced against an alleged violator if, at the time and place of the alleged violation, any such traffic control device is not in proper position and sufficiently legible to be seen by an ordinarily observant person.”
For the full text of this law, see § 46.2-830.
Sometimes, where it is applicable, a lawyer can make a case that you were sleeping or resting on the side of the road, and that is why you were not complying with the law. If the judge or prosecutor accepts this explanation, you could still be convicted of a traffic infraction, but you would get no demerit points on your driving record.
Cook Attorneys would be happy to look at your case, hear your story, and let you know if you are likely to have this outcome. Check out our website today and contact us to get started.
For the full text of the “Sleeping violation” clause, see the Virginia Code.
The fine print
There is one section of the law (§ 46.2-833.1.) that says you cannot evade any signs by driving off the road to get around them. So you cannot drive up on your neighbor’s grass, through the parking lot of a corner gas station, or onto the beach (for instance) just to get out of obeying traffic signs. Doing so is the same as failure to obey the signs, and you can be ticketed.
The court case
If your ticket requires that you appear in court, or if you decide to challenge it in court, Cook Attorneys can appear for you so that you may not have to take off work. We may also be able to keep you from having to return to Virginia if you live out of state.
We will talk to you ahead of time about what we will ask the judge for, and then we will let you know right away what the judge said—as well as what (if anything) you owe for your ticket or court fees.
If this sounds appealing to you, don’t hesitate to call today for a free consultation! Cook Attorneys has been serving Harrisonburg and all surrounding counties in Virginia for over two decades, and we would love to help you.