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Loudoun County Attorneys > Blog > Criminal Defense > Virginia is Not for Speeders: Out-of-state Drivers Beware

Virginia is Not for Speeders: Out-of-state Drivers Beware

Almost everyone you meet will admit they have received a traffic ticket at some point in their life. No doubt, most people violate minor traffic laws at some point. Some states definitely have harsher punishments than others. Virginia traffic lawyers see a lot of tickets issued to out-of-state drivers, sometimes disproportionate to the total number of tickets being issued. Given Virginia’s harsh penalties for traffic violations, this can spell real trouble for visitors.

How many people get tickets each year?

Nationwide, approximately 20 percent of all Americans will receive a speeding ticket this year. That number does not include the thousands of other minor infractions, such as improper lane change, illegal U-turn, and so forth. According to Statistic Brain and a recent study by the National Highway traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), it amounts to about 112,000 people getting a ticket every single day, or about 41 million per year. The same report by the NHTSA shows that Virginia now ranks seventh in the nation for the total number of citations written each year.

What is the real purpose of speeding tickets?

There is little debate remaining about the true purpose of speeding infractions. It is no longer solely to protect the public, despite much of the marketing by state and local governments. Tickets are also about generating money. To illustrate, just a few years back in 2010, the Commonwealth of Virginia needed to close a nearly $2.2 billion budget deficit. So what did they do? They flooded Virginia interstates with troopers and issued 6,996 speeding tickets in just one weekend. Indeed, traffic enforcement is profitable.

Getting an out-of-state traffic citation in Virginia

Virginia, like 43 other states, is part of the Driver’s License Interstate Compact Agreement, which allows states to share citation records. This means you really cannot escape your fine. Even if you never plan to return to Virginia, if your state is in the Compact, you will have to deal with those points on your license. It will affect your insurance and possibly your license back home. However, the impact of a speeding ticket in Virginia can be even more severe than that; it can be criminal.

How does Virginia criminalize speeding and reckless driving?

Unlike most states, Virginia carves out a special set of penalties for traffic infractions deemed to be “reckless driving.” Under Article 7 of the Motor Vehicle Code, going more than 20 MPH over the posted speed limit will get you a Class 1 misdemeanor. That could carry jail time. And what’s worse, going 80 MPH at any time will subject you to the same heavy penalties, even in places where the speed limit is 70.

Fighting an out-of-state ticket in Virginia

Those visitors who are stopped for speeding in Virginia will have a difficult time fighting their ticket locally. The police are aware that most people are not in a position to take days off work, travel back to Virginia, and spend thousands traveling to fight a ticket, even if it was completely unwarranted. After all, it is not as though the state will refund those costs if you are found not guilty. A reckless driving charge can cost you thousands, so contact a Leesburg reckless driving attorney at Simms Showers who has the experience to fight for your good driving record.

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