When Virginia Traffic Offenses Turn into Criminal Charges
Some Virginia drivers don’t take traffic infractions as seriously as they should. Some traffic offenses can be classified as misdemeanors, or even felonies. A traffic infraction is typically less serious than a misdemeanor or a felony, but it can still wreak havoc on your driving record and insurance renewal rates. There is a chance your license could be suspended or revoked. And, misdemeanor or felony offenses can result in more serious consequences.
If you received a traffic ticket or you’ve been arrested for a traffic-related offense, it’s important to speak with an experienced Virginia criminal law attorney. A skilled criminal defense attorney may be able to get the charges reduced, which can reduce the risk of your license being suspended and lower any potential fines and insurance implications.
Common Traffic Infractions
Some of the more common basic traffic infractions include:
- Running a red light
- Illegal U-turn
- Failure to yield
- Following too close
- Failure to stop at a stop sign
- Not obeying lane markings or highway signs
Traffic Misdemeanors in Virginia
There are some traffic offenses that fall under the category of misdemeanors, which, if you are convicted, can result in more serious penalties. You could have a permanent criminal record and receive demerits on your driver’s license. Some misdemeanor traffic violations in Virginia include:
- Driving on a suspended or revoked license — Driving on a suspended license is a class 1 misdemeanor with penalties of up to one year in jail, a fine of up to $2,500, and a 90-day driver’s license suspension; driving on a revoked license is similar, but a third offense would become a Class 6 felony.
- DWI — Driving while intoxicated (a/k/a DUI) is a Class 1 misdemeanor for a first offense, carrying a jail sentence of up to one year, a fine of up to between $250 and $2,500, and the judge may revoke your license for a year. You are also required to put the ignition interlock device on your car.
- Reckless driving — Reckless driving charges can result from a number of things, like speeding more than 20 miles over the speed limit, or over 80 miles per hour, regardless of the speed limit. Reckless driving is a Class 1 misdemeanor, and the penalties are similar to driving on a suspended or revoked license. The court could suspend your license for up to a six months.
The penalties for a felony charge are more serious, and you could be facing time in prison rather than jail. If you are on your third DUI offense, it will be charged as a felony. You could be in prison for three to six months, pay a $1,000 fine, and have your license suspended for three years. If you are in a hit and run accident where someone was seriously injured or died, you will face felony charges as well.
Retaining a Virginia Criminal Attorney
If you or a loved one have been charged with a Virginia traffic-related offense, you need to contact a knowledgeable criminal defense attorney. A skilled criminal defense attorney will work to get the charges reduced, which may lower potential fines and the length of the license suspension. Whitbeck Cisneros McElroy PC has years of experience handling a variety of criminal matters for clients, including Class 1 misdemeanor traffic offenses. Contact our office at 703-997-4982 to schedule a consultation.