Infraction v. Crime
There is a difference. A crime carries with it possible jail time as a punishment whereas an infraction does not. If you are guilty of an infraction, that does NOT create a criminal record; therefore, if employers, jobs, or colleges ask if you have ever been found guilty of a crime or charged with a crime, the answer is NO.
Common traffic infractions are ones such as speeding, defective equipment, failure to inspect one’s vehicle, etc. For a complete list of traffic infractions and fines associated with each offense, click the link labeled “Common Traffic Infractions” and download the .pdf.
Do I need a Lawyer?
Time & Money. There’s an old saying among attorneys, “don’t chase bad money with good money.” If you truly don’t care about insurance rates and DMV points, there is no point in paying a lawyer lots of money to resolve a citation that costs a fraction of what you would pay a lawyer. For example, if you have a $20.00 fine from a parking violation, it makes no sense to hire a lawyer for $500.00 to fight the parking violation.
Potentially devastating ramifications. As crazy as it sounds, traffic citations could snowball into chaos….fast. From a legal standpoint, there are ALWAYS bigger ramifications, things that people don’t always see. If you are still interested, continue reading.
For example, not everyone knows that under Virginia Code § 46.2-506(B) if you accrue Eighteen (18) or more points within Twelve (12) months or Twenty-Four (24) points within Twenty-Four (24) months, then your license is AUTOMATICALLY SUSPENDED for ninety (90) days, which is made worse by the fact that you have to complete a driver’s improvement clinic before you can get your license back AND you are placed on probation according to Virginia Code § 46.2-499 after the suspension time is over.
At this point, your question, or comment, is probably “doesn’t sound to dramatic…what’s the big deal?”
Well, the big deal could kicks in when you get pulled over by a police officer. Chances are, you’ll have an uncomfortable conversation about how you didn’t know your license was suspended. At that point, you will be issued a summons for not only the reason you were pulled over, but also for driving on a suspended license. The worse part in this entire scenario? Driving on a suspended license, aka DoS, is a class 1 misdemeanor. Remember how we talked about the difference between an infraction and a crime? Well, we just wandered over to the “crime” side. Without getting into too much detail, all class 1 misdemeanors carry with them possible jail time of up to one (1) year in jail AND/OR a $2,500.00 fine (yes, it can be a combination of both). Can you go to jail? Possibly. Will you go to jail? Possibly.
This isn’t a scare tactic, or a method to con you into hiring an attorney, this is an honest assessment of what could possibly happen if you blindly pay an infraction without, at the very least, having a consultation with an attorney.
What’s in it for me?
If you’re reading this section, you probably have the million dollar question, “what can a lawyer do for me?” First and foremost, no attorney (including me) can guarantee you anything…ever, but, attorneys can change the entire complexion of your case. Attorneys understand the bigger picture and can help you in avoiding huge pitfalls in the future. In some instances, attorneys can aggressively advocate for you and get your case dismissed. In many cases, you are often paying attorneys big money for big connections. Much of what an attorney does is based on his/her reputation within the community. When you retain a reputable attorney, the way in which your case develops is often seamless and very clear. Most importantly, an attorney can provide you with peace of mind. The headache will be there and it will not go away, but, a lawyer can take a lot of that stress off your shoulders and help you live a normal life (as much as possible) until your case is resolved.