HOW TO KNOW IF YOU SHOULD FIGHT A TRAFFIC TICKET?
If you’ve received a traffic ticket and believe you’ve been ticketed incorrectly or unfairly, then you might want to fight the ticket. However, even if you were properly ticketed, you may still want to contest your ticket in court in an effort to try to reduce or eliminate the penalties of your ticket. In addition to the immediacy of a high ticket fee, you may be at risk for long term increased expenses through elevated insurance premiums. Worse still, if you have a bad record you may be facing a suspension or loss of your driver’s license which can have huge negative consequences for your job and your family’s life.
FIGHTING A TRAFFIC TICKET IN COURT
In Virginia, it’s your right to appear in the General District Court for a hearing on the merits of the ticket. The hearing date is on your summons, but it could be postponed if either side – you or the police officer – asks the date to be postponed.
When your court date arrives, you’ll need to be prepared to present your traffic defense. The officer will testify first. Do not interrupt or argue with him. You will be given the opportunity to ask him questions when he has completed his testimony, and then you will have the opportunity to testify; that is, you will be placed under oath to tell the judge your version of what happened. It is often good to keep your defense short and to the point. Keep in mind that the question the judge is pondering is this: has the officer shown beyond a reasonable doubt that the defendant (you) is guilty of the offense charged in the ticket. Your evidence, then, should be targeted to establishing a reasonable doubt about your guilt.
Some drivers appear in court not to contest the ticket but to try to avoid the consequences of the ticket. For example, there may be times that the judge will reduce or dismiss a charge if you take a defensive driving course. The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles website provides information on approved “Driver Improvement Clinics” here.
If the judge rules for you, congratulations! If not, you will have the right to appeal the ticket to the Circuit Court for a new trial in front of a different judge. Appeals must be filed in the General District Court clerk’s office within 14 days of the conviction.
HIRING AN ATTORNEY TO FIGHT A TRAFFIC TICKET
You may worry that hiring an attorney to fight a traffic ticket could be prohibitively expensive. Therefore it might surprise you to know that lawyers that handle traffic tickets can potentially save you money in the long run by preventing you from having to pay increased insurance rates and ticket fee penalties.
The majority of traffic tickets in Virginia and in the US are categorized as traffic infractions, but more serious charges such as DUI (Driving Under the Influence AKA Driving While Intoxicated), driving with a suspended license, hit and run, and reckless driving are misdemeanor criminal offenses. In these cases, we recommend discussing your case with a lawyer to ensure the best possible outcome for your case. If you need a traffic lawyer in Harrisonburg VA or DUI lawyers in Harrisonburg VA, our team of experienced professionals at Cook Attorneys can support you. You can read more about our traffic defense services here.
Another reason to consider hiring lawyers in Harrisonburg VA is if you are ticketed as an out of State driver. For example, our firm may be able to represent you in court so that you don’t need to suffer the expense and inconvenience of returning to Virginia for your court hearing. You can learn more about traffic defense consultations by telephone for out-of-state drivers here.
We can save you time and money by appearing on your behalf in court and negotiate to have your charges dropped, dismissed or reduced.
Contact us to learn more about how we can help you.