Most of the time, the easiest way to deal with a speeding ticket is to just pay the associated fine.
However, many Virginia residents don’t realize that, by paying the fine, they’re essentially pleading guilty to the crime of speeding.
In this article, we’ll talk about the various reasons you may want to fight a speeding ticket in Virginia. We’ll also talk about the things you can do to improve your chances of winning, or even having your case dismissed.
Why Should I Fight My Virginia Speeding Ticket?
There are a few different reasons you may want to fight a speeding ticket in Virginia.
Two of the most common are:
- When the offense would put you above the DMV demerit point cutoff, and could result in automatic license suspension.
- If the ticket could result in significantly higher insurance premiums.
However, while there are certainly several reasons you should fight a speeding ticket, it’s often more important to figure out whether or not you can fight the ticket.
Most defenses depend heavily on the specifics of your case, and figuring out whether or not you have a defense can be hard.
If you’re uncertain about how to move forward, you should speak with a traffic attorney before going to court.
They can help you figure out if you have a case, and can lay out the possible defenses available to you.
However, generally speaking, there are two areas you should always double-check before choosing to fight a ticket:
- First, you should make sure the ticket isn’t actually for reckless driving.
- Second, you should decide on if you want to take a plea deal or argue for a full dismissal of the charge.
Reckless Driving & Speeding Tickets
First, and most importantly, make sure that the ticket is for speeding and not reckless driving.
Reckless driving by speed is not the same thing as a normal speeding ticket. In Virginia, there are two common ways to get a ticket for reckless driving by speed:
- Going more than 20 miles per hour over the posted speed limit.
- Going any faster than 80 miles per hour.
There are several ways to check whether or not your ticket is for reckless driving.
Usually, you can find the information on the ticket itself, which will note your crime as “RD” or a code section between § 46.2-852 and §46.2-867.
If your ticket is for reckless driving, you need to speak with an attorney immediately.
Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor in Virginia.
This means that a conviction can lead to both massive fines and possibly even jail time.
After you’re certain that your ticket is only for speeding, you need to decide whether or not to fight the ticket in court.
Figuring this out early can help you prepare a solid defense, and will give you time to collect the documents you’ll need to present in court.
What to Do if You Choose to Fight the Ticket
If you do choose to fight the ticket, there are two primary routes you can follow.
First, you can try to negotiate a lower sentence by taking a “plea deal.” Alternatively, you can fight the ticket in court in front of a judge.
By taking a plea deal, you are essentially pleading guilty (or no-contest) to a lower crime in order to receive a lower penalty.
For example, you could ask the judge or prosecutor to reduce the speed you were recorded at.
This will result usually in lower penalties from your insurance and the DMV.
Do note, however, that by taking a plea deal you must also plead guilty (or no-contest) to the amended charge.
Even if the penalties are generally lower, you’ll still have to pay a fine, and your insurance rates will most likely still increase.
The court may even dismiss the charges entirely, provided you meet certain requirements.
For example, many courts will dismiss a ticket if you successfully complete driving school, or if you voluntarily choose to perform community service.
For these reasons and more, choosing whether to take a plea deal or fight the ticket often rests on the specifics of your case and the risks involved.
If your only goal is to avoid losing your license, taking a plea deal can help you do that without the risk of a hearing.
Fighting the Ticket in Court
If you have an exceptionally strong case, you may choose to fight the ticket.
Generally, this means arguing for a full dismissal of the ticket using facts, evidence, and case law.
However, these defenses are often fact-specific, and many only lead to harsher penalties if you anger the judge.
If you choose to fight the ticket, you’ll almost always want to discuss your strategy with a lawyer before trying it in court.
Failing to fully prepare can result in higher fines and other related penalties.
What are my chances of winning?
In true lawyer fashion, the only answer we can give is “it depends.”
The real answer will depend upon the circumstances of the ticket, as well as the legal proceedings around it.
Additionally, different courts and judges have varying opinions on how to punish speeding tickets.
For these reasons, it’s important to seek legal counsel from a local traffic attorney before you step into the courtroom.
If you choose to not hire a lawyer, you should still show up in court prepared and presentable.
This means you’ll need to both conduct yourself appropriately and dress the part.
Print off several copies of any evidence, never lie or exaggerate to the court, and get to the point as fast as you can.
Remember, traffic courts in Virginia process hundreds of cases daily.
Being prepared, and making your argument quick and to the point, can only help your defense.
If you’re still unsure about whether or not you should fight your speeding ticket, you should schedule a consultation with one of our traffic attorneys.
By getting in touch with an experienced Virginia traffic lawyer early, you’ll give yourself the best possible chance at winning your case.
With time to prepare, a good traffic attorney can help you avoid the worst penalties for a ticket.
They may even be able to argue away your charges altogether, resulting in a dismissal.