The traffic rules are aggressively enforced in Virginia, which has some of the strictest traffic laws in the nation. One of the reasons for the strict laws and aggressive enforcement is the disturbingly high number of traffic accidents and injuries in this state. In 2018, for example:
- More than 131,000 traffic crashes were reported in the state of Virginia.
- Those crashes were the cause of more than 66,000 injuries and more than 800 fatalities.
- Over 13,000 accidents and more than 6,000 injuries were reported in Fairfax County.
- More than 5,700 accidents and 2,800 fatalities were reported in Prince William County.
The penalties for traffic violations can be quite harsh in Virginia, which is why you need to seek legal representation from a Fairfax traffic defense attorney. The typical penalty for a minor traffic violation is a fine, but more serious violations may be penalized with jail time (or prison for felony violations) and/or with the suspension or revocation of the offender’s driver’s license.
IS YOUR DRIVER’S LICENSE VALID AND CURRENT?
Keep reading, and you’ll learn exactly when and why a driver’s license may be suspended or revoked in Virginia, how to get your suspended or revoked license reinstated, and what it takes to obtain “restricted” driving privileges during a period of license suspension or revocation.
Are you sure that your Virginia driver’s license is valid and up-to-date? It might be good idea to verify it. Some motorists in Virginia may not even know that their licenses have been suspended, and that means those drivers are breaking the law whenever they get behind the wheel.
WHY DOES VIRGINIA SUSPEND A DRIVER’S LICENSE?
It is not difficult to have your driver’s license suspended in Virginia. Some of the reasons why a driver in this state may have his or her driver’s license suspended include but are not limited to:
1. too many “demerit points” on your license as a result of several traffic violations
2. failure to maintain the required automobile insurance
3. a first or second conviction for driving under the influence (DUI)
4. a conviction for hit-and-run or reckless driving
In the past, Virginia suspended the licenses of those drivers who have failed to pay court fees, but as of 2019, the state no longer suspends the licenses of drivers whose only violation is having outstanding court fees.
WHAT YOU SHOULD KNOW IF YOUR LICENSE IS SUSPENDED
A driver’s license suspension is temporary. You will eventually get your license back. Depending on the reason for the suspension, your driver’s license reinstatement fee will range from $45 to $220 at the end of the license suspension period.
You should also know that if your driver’s license is suspended in this state, other states will not issue a driver’s license to you until there has been a resolution of the matter in Virginia.
If your driver’s license has been suspended and you don’t know why, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) can provide you with a “Compliance Summary” that spells out the reasons your license has been suspended.
You can obtain a Compliance Summary by visiting a DMV office in person, calling the DMV at (804) 497-7100, or by establishing an account at the DMV website: www.dmv.virginia.gov.
HOW DO REVOCATIONS DIFFER FROM SUSPENSIONS?
What is the difference between a license suspension and a revocation? A revocation is far more serious than a suspension. A revocation means that your driver’s license is gone – completely cancelled. It cannot be restored, and obtaining a new license after a revocation takes some effort.
A new driver’s license cannot be issued after a license revocation until and unless the driver petitions a Virginia circuit court for a new license. A Fairfax traffic defense attorney can help.
WHY DOES VIRGINIA REVOKE A DRIVER’S LICENSE?
Additionally, to reinstate your license after a revocation, a driver must be evaluated by the Alcohol Safety Action Program, and he or she must explain to the court why the license should be reinstated. A Virginia driver’s license may be revoked for:
1. a third or subsequent DUI conviction
2. vehicular maiming
3. involuntary vehicular manslaughter
Driving with a revoked or suspended driver’s license is a criminal offense in Virginia. Convicted offenders face penalties that may include a fine of up to $2,500, up to twelve months in jail, and a re-suspension of the license. The fine must be paid before the license can be reinstated.
CAN YOU OBTAIN A “RESTRICTED” LICENSE?
If your Virginia driver’s license has been revoked or suspended, you may qualify for restricted driving privileges. Depending on the details of the suspension or revocation, restricted driving privileges may be granted either by the court or by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles.
With restricted driving privileges, you are allowed only to drive to and from designated, authorized locations at designated times. Typically this means that you are allowed only to drive to or from work, school, or court, or for a medical emergency.
However, every restricted license in Virginia is different, so you will need to look closely at your paperwork to determine when and where you are allowed to drive and when your restricted license will expire.
While most traffic infractions in Virginia are minor, too many convictions for minor infractions will put too many demerit points on your driving record and trigger a license suspension.
WILL YOU NEED AN ATTORNEY’S HELP?
Paying any traffic ticket in Virginia is the legal equivalent of pleading guilty in court. That’s one reason why you should fight every traffic ticket with help from the right Fairfax traffic defense attorney.
Do not plead guilty to any traffic charge without first consulting an attorney. Do not try to be your own attorney, either. Too much will be at risk. Working with the right traffic defense attorney is the best choice you can make if you have been charged with any traffic violation.
Another reason you should fight every ticket is the Interstate Driver’s License Compact, an agreement among 45 states to share information about driving offenses. A ticket you get in Las Vegas, for instance, doesn’t stay in Vegas; it also appears on your record here in Virginia.
This can’t be stressed too strongly: If your license has been suspended or revoked, do not drive in Virginia. Instead, present your case accurately when you seek restricted driving privileges or to have your license restored. Let a good attorney guide you and advocate on your behalf.