When thinking about criminal defense in Virginia, people will rarely associate a traffic violation with the need for legal assistance. However, there are many cases where the driver has been wrongfully cited or the law enforcement officer did not adhere to protocol. These factors can result in the ticket being dismissed. Those who do not believe this is important should be aware of the litany of problems they can face from a traffic violation including points on a driver’s license, fines and, depending on the case, jail time. It is important to think about having a viable legal defense.
New hands-free law has led to a spike in traffic tickets
On Jan. 1, 2021, a new hands-free driving law went into effect in the Commonwealth. Drivers are now forbidden from holding a device when driving with a variety of penalties if they are cited. Law enforcement officers are providing anecdotal evidence of the number of drivers who have been stopped for violating the new law. Some officers are giving warnings without issuing a summons. Throughout the state, the first week of the new year saw 37 summonses given to drivers who were not in compliance. For a first offense, drivers are fined $150. If they are caught again, they will be fined $250. When the violation happens in a highway work zone, it is a $250 fine.
There are avenues to fight traffic tickets
Distracted driving is a common cause of auto accidents. One police lieutenant said he investigates around 2,000 crashes per year and many are caused by distracted driving. With that, it is understandable that legislators and law enforcement are increasing their vigilance about this issue. Still, as with any allegation of a traffic violation whether it is using a handheld device, speeding, driving recklessly, going through a red light, tailgating or making illegal maneuvers, it is often up to the officer’s judgment as to whether an illegal act occurred. There could be evidence that the driver was adhering to the law.
Legal assistance may be beneficial after getting a traffic ticket
Scrutinizing the evidence in a case is key to fighting it effectively. Having the summons dismissed can avoid the penalties that can be problematic including lost driving privileges and raised insurance rates. This is true for a hands-free violation, DUI or any other traffic issue. Consulting with a firm that is experienced in traffic violations and other areas of criminal defense may be helpful.