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What Are the Types of Traffic Tickets?

Virginia’s roadway laws are designed to keep drivers, pedestrians, and passengers as safe as possible. If you’re accused of violating one of these laws, you can be ticketed and fined. Different types of traffic tickets can come with different consequences, though. 

The consequences you end up saddled with may not seem fair, especially if you believe you weren’t violating the law. Fortunately, anyone contending with an unwanted traffic ticket can reach out to a criminal traffic lawyer in Virginia to contest the charges brought against you.

What Kinds of Roadway Infractions Are There in Virginia?

Code of Virginia 46.2-8 defines traffic infractions. According to this statute, traffic infractions can address non-criminal roadway violations. These can include:

  • Driving at speeds no more than 20 miles per hour over the speed limit
  • Driving with a damaged tail light or headlight
  • Running a red light
  • Engaging in a “rolling stop”
  • Following another vehicle too closely

The types of tickets police give out are based on these traffic infractions. While infractions may go on your driving record, they rarely come with criminal consequences. You may have to pay a small fine if you’re ticketed. That said, you can appeal your infraction charge within ten days of receiving your ticket.

What Violations Are Virginia’s Most Common Roadway Tickets for?

The consequences of alleged recklessness on the road vary depending on the officer at the scene. You’re more likely to receive a traffic ticket if an officer accuses you of:

Speeding

You can receive a speeding infraction if you’re caught driving less than 20 miles per hour over a posted speed limit. Similarly, law enforcement may pull you over if you’re driving unreasonably, considering the weather conditions. If it’s raining or snowing, you’re expected to drive at or beneath the posted speed limit.

At the same time, law enforcement expects you to keep traffic flowing around you. If you’re caught driving below a posted speed limit by a significant degree, you may have to pay a fine to make up for the delays you allegedly caused.

Reckless Driving

Reckless driving” refers to a person’s failure to operate a motor vehicle in a prudent and responsible way. Specifically, it is the infraction of knowingly putting others’ lives in danger. 

You could receive a ticket for reckless driving if you’re accused of:

  • Speeding above 80 miles per hour
  • Speeding significantly above the posted speed limit
  • Passing an emergency vehicle
  • Passing a school bus
  • Driving a vehicle with faulty brakes

You can also face a reckless driving charge for driving while impaired by drugs and/or alcohol.

Driving Under the Influence

You can be charged with a DWI in Virginia if you’re caught behind the wheel with a blood alcohol content (BAC) of over 0.08%. You don’t have to have an elevated BAC to face a ticket, though. 

You can be charged with a DUI regardless of your BAC if it appears an intoxicating substance has impaired your ability to drive. “Intoxicating substances” can include alcohol and drugs, even if the medications you’re accused of using were prescribed to you.

Distracted Driving or Cellphone Violations

It is against the law in Virginia to use a handheld device to send or read texts while driving. You could receive a traffic ticket for violating this law, along with a fine of $100 to $500. 

That said, you can be distracted on the road by more than a cellphone. Eating, drinking, or even chatting at the wheel can all constitute distractions. While you’re not likely to receive a ticket for talking at the wheel, you may be fined if your distraction results in someone else’s misfortune.

Other Moving Violations

Police officers in Virginia can ticket you if you’re accused of inappropriate or reckless behavior on the road in general. These violations, known as moving violations, come with different penalties based on their severity. They can include:

  • Illegal U-turns
  • Improper turns
  • Following too closely
  • Tailgating
  • Improper passing
  • Unsafe lane changes
  • Unsafe merges

Non-Moving Violations

You could also receive a ticket for a non-moving traffic violation. These violations include:

  • Parking illegally
  • Parking in a handicapped spot without a permit
  • Using a vehicle that does not have working lights
  • Violating window tint law
  • Operating a vehicle without valid registration

The penalties you can face for a non-moving violation may be the same as those you’d face if ticketed on the road. You may have to pay a fine, face points on your license, or repair a damaged part of your car.

How Do You Fight a Traffic Ticket in Virginia?

Fighting a ticket with help from a lawyer could reduce the charges and consequences you face. A criminal traffic attorney can represent you during a hearing and help you negotiate a resolution.

We can challenge a traffic ticket by challenging the evidence that originally resulted in your charge. In instances involving speeding, we can question the functionality of a radar or the records gathered by law enforcement. 

If you happen to get into an accident, Virginia’s pure contributory negligence policy can help us argue that another driver contributed to an accident’s losses. Our arguments can reduce your fines and jail time, as applicable. They can also help you retain your driving privileges if you’re at risk for a license suspension or revocation.

Can a Ticket in Virginia Result in a Misdemeanor Charge?

Because most traffic tickets only represent roadway infractions, the consequences affiliated with them aren’t particularly severe. Misdemeanors, comparatively, start to introduce more significant jail time and fines into the equation. You can be brought up on misdemeanor charges in Virginia if you drive without a valid license or engage in reckless driving.

The amount of jail time you risk when contending with a misdemeanor charge will vary based on the behaviors of which you are accused. The same can be said of your Virginia speeding ticket fines. Under some circumstances, more severe misdemeanors will be met with a license suspension.

If you’re caught on the road with a suspended license, Virginia may even opt to revoke your license.

Can a Ticket in Virginia Result in a Felony Charge?

Felonies tend to carry the most significant consequences of Virginia’s roadway penalties. You can be charged with a roadway felony if you’re accused of vehicular manslaughter while under the influence or due to reckless behavior. 

If you’re convicted of a roadway felony, you will not be able to expunge the conviction from your criminal record. You can appeal criminal convictions, though, if you have the help of a criminal defense attorney.