FREQUENTLY ASKED LEGAL QUESTIONS IN VIRGINIA
June 14th 2014
By Sara Gaborik
TRAFFIC CASES IN VIRGINIA
Will I have to appear in Court?
If you have a speeding ticket, in most cases the judge will allow me to handle the matter without your presence. But I may suggest you appear if we need to challenge an officer’s testimony or if the Court would look more favorably upon your case if you are there.
You may have to appear before the court for a reckless driving charge. Some judges require a defendant’s appearance for a charge of driving over 90 mph or if that defendant has a history of similar charges.
Should I complete driving school before my scheduled court date?
In deciding the outcome of a case, some judges will take into account your completion of driving school as a positive indication that you have accepted responsibility for your actions. But some judges won’t give you credit for completion in advance. I will advise you, early in the proceedings, whether completing driving school prior to your court date is a good use of your time.
Do I have to attend a Virginia-based driving school?
Virginia residents will be required to attend a Virginia-based driving school though some Courts now allow online driving schools as opposed to in-person attendance. Otherwise, an out-of-state driver will be instructed to attend a driving approved by the Department of Motor Vehicles of that driver’s state of residence.
Will I be allowed to complete my driving school online?
Most judges who give defendants the option of completing driving school as a way to reduce or dismiss charges will allow you to complete an online driving school. There are a few, however, who do not permit online attendance. You must comply with a specific Court’s rules to receive credit for completing the course.
To find a Virginia DMV-approved driver improvement clinic (driving school), you can use this interactive site: http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/drivers/#clinics.asp
Will I receive demerit points on my driving record if I am from out of state?
The Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will keep a record of your traffic infraction and will most likely report your case’s outcome to the department of motor vehicles in your state.
Can the judge suspend my license for a reckless driving ticket?
Yes. Whether your license is suspended depends on several factors. A suspension may occur if your speed was above a certain threshold. Suspension sometimes depends on the locality where the offense occurred and which judge is assigned your case. In addition, a driver whose record establishes a pattern of similar conduct may have his or her license suspended. Suspensions can range from ten days to twelve months.
If the judge in Virginia suspends my license, does that mean that my license will be suspended in the state where I reside?
The short answer is yes. However, it could take some time for Virginia to communicate this information to your state. The suspension in Virginia is immediate and if you are caught driving in this state, you will face a new charge of driving on a suspended operator’s license.
I often ask a judge to delay the suspension long enough to allow my client sufficient time to drive back to his or her home state. Some judges will agree to this, especially when my client is present in Court and usually for clients have appeared in Court from out of state or from a substantial distance away. Clients who do not appear will not get the benefit of a stay of the suspension. I generally advise my clients to work out, in advance, transportation to and from Court.
DUI/DWI IN VIRGINIA
Do I have to place ignition interlock on my vehicle?
Yes. As of July 1, 2013, all DUI/DWI convictions result in mandatory ignition interlock for a minimum of six months. Because this is mandatory, the judge lacks the discretion to waive this restriction.
What is ASAP?
ASAP stands for the Alcohol Safety and Action Program, also known as the Virginia Alcohol Safety and Action Program. If convicted, you will be required to meet with ASAP evaluators for an assessment that will place you in an education class or, alternatively, an alcohol treatment program.
For more information on ASAP, see:
For information on the VASAP programs, see:
Do I have to complete ASAP?
Yes. The Judge will impose a suspended jail sentence for a term of years on the condition you successfully complete this program. Failure to complete ASAP can result in receiving some or all of the suspended jail time. Although, on rare occasions, a Court might not impose this requirement, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles will require a Virginia resident to complete ASAP prior to being issued a license.
Where do I enroll for ASAP?
If you are a Virginia resident, you will be allowed to complete an ASAP program in the locality where you reside. You will not have to enroll in one in the jurisdiction where the conviction occurred unless that is where you live.
To find an ASAP location near you, see:
If you are not a Virginia resident, you will be required to register with ASAP in Virginia. Your case will then be transferred to your state of residence where you will be required to complete a program similar to ASAP. The administrators of that program will continue to monitor your progress and report to the Court whether or not you successfully completed it.
If my license is suspended can I get a restricted license? And if so, when am I permitted to drive?
For a first offense, someone convicted of DUI/DWI is eligible for a restricted license as long as he or she meets the criteria the specific judge has established. The Commonwealth Attorney (prosecutor) may object to a restricted license in some circumstances and the judge will make the final decision after both parties have presented relevant information on the issue.
On a second offense, an individual must wait at least four months and must be registered in ASAP and successfully progressing before the judge will grant a restricted license.
A judge may issue a restricted license for you to drive:
- To and from work, including primary and secondary jobs;
- Travel during work hours as required by your employer;
- To and from school;
- To and from appointments with your probation officer
- To and from the site of any programs your probation officer, VASAP, or the Court may require you to complete;
- To and from VASAP;
- To and from any facility that monitors or installs ignition interlock;
- To and from a place of religious worship one day a week;
- To and from court ordered visitation with your child(ren);
- To and from medical appointments for you, a minor child, or adult in your care;
- To and from necessary travel for minor children to and from school and to and from daycare; and
- To and from a jail sentence to be served on weekends or on non-consecutive days.
To apply for a restricted license, see:
How long does a DUI case take?
Cases vary, depending on the issues presented. Cases involving forensic evidence (for example blood draws) may require more preparation and trial time than other cases.
Can we confer by telephone?
Absolutely. I provide clients easy access by providing my email address and both office and cell phone numbers. I want my clients to be able to reach me when they have questions or concerns.
How much will it cost to defend my DUI case?
The more serious the case and the more complex the issues, the higher the expenses can run. For example, if we must retain an expert to challenge key pieces of evidence, the costs will be higher.
How often will I be billed?
Generally, I require a down payment and establish a payment plan with you. Although I will provide you, up front, with my total fee, additional costs such as expert fees, the costs of exhibits and other trial materials, and other such costs would have to be added to my fees.
Will I be allowed to make periodic payments for my legal representation?
What if I don’t make my payments?
Yes, as long as you make the required down payment, I will work with you so you can make payments. However, should you fail to make any of the payments you agreed to make, I will immediately submit a request to the Court for removal from your case.