After a driving charge, you may be asking, do you really need to hire a traffic lawyer over one infraction? Understandably, most people would rather not spend the money if they can avoid it.
However, the decision not to hire an attorney for your traffic violation may be a huge mistake.
Even if it’s your first time, one charge of reckless driving, DUI, or excessive speeding can stick with you for life. Even after you’ve paid your fine and attended driving classes. Even after you get your license back.
Keep reading to learn why anyone charged with a traffic violation in Virginia should consult with a traffic attorney before going it alone.
Misdemeanors and Felonies
Oftentimes, people receive a “speeding ticket” in Virginia without realizing that it is actually a charge of misdemeanor Reckless Driving. In Virginia, Reckless Driving and DUI charges are not considered mere traffic violations. They are a criminal misdemeanor charge and are subject to all the same procedures and punishments.
The scope of criminal reckless driving under the law is broad. It can include speeding 20 miles per hour or more over the posted speed limit, racing, passing a school bus, cresting quickly over a hill, or losing control of your vehicle. And reckless driving without a license is automatically a felony.
A first DUI charge is also a misdemeanor. But a third DUI will be charged as a Class 6 felony charge.
Class 6 felonies are the least severe of Virginia’s felony classes, but that doesn’t mean they aren’t serious. A Class 6 is punishable by one to five years in prison!
A felony for a traffic violation will impact your life far beyond the road. Felonies and misdemeanors almost always show up in background checks, which can affect your employment, ability to get a home or apartment, schooling, or ability to get a professional license.
Moreover, in Virginia, felons automatically lose their rights to vote and own a gun. You’ll be feeling these consequences for life.
The Impact of Traffic Violations
The impact of infractions such as reckless driving, a DUI charge, or excessive speeding can range anywhere from a traffic violation, to a misdemeanor, to a felony. That’s the difference between sending a check in the mail and jail time.
In addition, Virginia is one of many states that uses a points system for traffic violations. When you get a ticket, you’ll receive at least three demerit points on your license. The most severe violations will add a whopping six points to your record.
Depending on the infraction, the points will stay on your record for a certain period of time, with a minimum period of three years. That is the case for lesser violations such as improper passing or changing direction after signaling.
However, six-point violations typically stay on your record for 11 years. And several, such as certain DUI charges, will be there for life.
This will not only affect you every single time you’re on the road after your violation, but it will also cause your insurance premiums to rise for years to come.
How Can a Traffic Attorney Help Me?
With permanent consequences on the line, it’s clear that anyone charged with a traffic violation should at least consult with a criminal defense or traffic attorney before proceeding with their case.
When a person is charged with a crime, their lawyer is the only person involved in their case whose one and only job is to protect their client. An attorney will advocate for you when dealing with prosecutors and police.
A traffic lawyer is far more knowledgeable about the laws surrounding traffic violations than you are. It’s their job, after all.
Law and order can be tricky. Sometimes, a layperson may not even realize when he’s done something harmful to his case, such as by saying the wrong thing to the police.
A lawyer will guide you to avoid these pitfalls. They’ll know the right arguments to make in order to give you the best chance of walking free from your charge. And even if they can’t get the charges completely dismissed, a lawyer may be able to negotiate your charge down from a felony to a misdemeanor, or from a misdemeanor to a traffic infraction.
Being charged with a crime can be terrifying. Many people will feel highly emotional when staring down the possibility of a jail sentence. Your traffic attorney will also be there as an objective observer who is able to judge the situation fairly without being clouded by emotions.
How to Find a Traffic Attorney
To find the best traffic attorney for you, you should do your research and look at their experience and their testimonials.
An attorney with more experience in the specific area of traffic violations will be better suited to defend you than one who is new in the field.
Testimonials will give you the point of view of people who were once in your shoes. It can be valuable to read these in order to determine whether this traffic attorney would be a good fit.
Traffic Attorneys in Richmond, Virginia
BernsteinHough, P.C. has both the experience and the client endorsements to back up their work. You only need to glance at the dozens of five-star reviews on our website to see how happy our former clients are with their results.
Each attorney has over 15 years of experience in criminal and traffic defense. If you need a criminal or traffic attorney for a violation of any kind, chances are we’ve seen it and know how to get you the best result.
If you are facing a traffic violation, don’t hesitate. Contact BernsteinHough, P.C. today to schedule a free consultation about your case. We look forward to helping you.