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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Loudoun County

Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Loudoun County


In the old days, fighting a traffic ticket in Loudoun County was easy. Usually, a municipal court wasn’t a court of record. So, defendants could automatically appeal the verdict. Then, at the appeal hearing, the arresting officer often didn’t appear, so the judge dismissed the case.

The environment is different now. Most municipal courts are now courts of record, so the automatic appeal option is gone. Furthermore, most law enforcement agencies now harshly discipline officers who don’t show up for court hearings, so there’s no victory by default.

Fighting a traffic ticket in Loudoun County is harder and more important than ever. Every traffic infraction brings the possibility of drivers’ license suspension closer. Furthermore, even a minor moving violation could significantly increase auto insurance rates. Only an assertive Leesburg criminal defense lawyer who challenges the state’s evidence can prevent these consequences.

Possible Defenses

Procedural and substantive defenses often allow a Leesburg criminal defense lawyer to successfully resolve a traffic ticket case without resorting to the traffic school option.

Procedural defenses often have their roots in the ticket quota system, which although illegal, is still alive and well. Many law enforcement agencies use ticket quotas as a performance evaluation tool.

Assume Officer Mike and Officer Ben work roughly the same shifts and same beat. Mike writes 50 tickets a month and Ben writes 25. Most likely, Mike will get a promotion and Ben will be reassigned to the night shift.

Officers who are under so much pressure to write tickets often take shortcuts. These shortcuts often include illegal stops. If an officer sees a traffic violation and pulls over a driver, the officer has reasonable suspicion. If an officer sees a driver who doesn’t “look right” and follows the driver until s/he commits a traffic violation, the officer profiled the driver.

A variance between the pleadings and the proof is the most common substantive defense in traffic ticket matters. Officers frequently make typographical errors on speeding tickets. The police officer turnover rate is very high. Therefore, many officers are new and have little experience with electronic ticketing devices.

Contrary to popular myth, a typo on the ticket doesn’t automatically mean dismissal. These errors are subject to the idem sonans rule. Idem sonans is Latin for “sounds alike” and Legalese for “close enough.”

A Smith/Smythe error is usually an idem sonans variance. A Ford/Chevrolet error could be a fatal variance that mandates dismissal.

Possible Resolutions

We mentioned traffic school above. Nowadays, traffic school no longer means spending a Saturday in a classroom and watching “Blood on the Highway” safety films. Instead, traffic school is an online course that usually only takes a few minutes to complete.

However, these classes are more expensive than ever. Furthermore, the traffic school option isn’t available in many cases.

The pretrial diversion option, on the other hand, costs nothing (or practically nothing) and is almost always available. Usually, pretrial diversion is a form of unsupervised, pre-conviction probation. If the driver gets no tickets for three or four months and completes some other program requirements, like a few hours of community service, prosecutors dismiss the case.

Count on a Dedicated Loudoun County Lawyer

There’s a big difference between an arrest and a conviction in criminal law. For a free consultation with an experienced criminal defense attorney in Leesburg, contact Simms Showers, LLP, Attorneys at Law. Convenient payment plans are available.



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