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Old 04-18-2012, 08:55 AM
 
301 posts, read 587,602 times
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Has anyone here been to traffic court to get a lower fine on a speeding ticket? If so, how does that process usually work out?

I got a speeding ticket 2 months ago going 41 in a 25mph zone in Vienna. I was about to just pay the ticket, but my wife suggests I go to FFX County court and that there's a chance the judge could lower my fine and/or points. She says that the worst case scenario is that the judge makes me pay the normal fine and that I get my points. Is this true? Can a judge also reduce the number of points I receive?

While I really don't have a great excuse for my speed, my wife thinks that I may stand a shot of getting my fine/points reduced if I explain my case to a judge (in a nutshell...I had my crying 2 year old son in the back seat and I was getting adjusted to driving our new minivan...it was literally the first time I drove the van since we drove it home from the dealership).

Any thoughts?
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:15 AM
 
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You can see the other ticket threads here for some good experiences.

The judge has no say in points, that's the DMV's role based upon the ticket you are given.

In my experience, In Fairfax County, if you have a good driving record you are likely to get the actual costs reduced, but not the charges (and hence not the points). I don't know that I'd use the crying 2 year old excuse.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:26 AM
 
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yolli71 View Post

Any thoughts?
The amount of time you spend taking off a morning from work and burning vacation time, plus hassle of parking over there will might as well pay the darn ticket online and get over it.
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Old 04-18-2012, 09:37 AM
 
Location: Northern Virginia
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yolli71 View Post
I got a speeding ticket 2 months ago going 41 in a 25mph zone in Vienna. I was about to just pay the ticket, but my wife suggests I go to FFX County court and that there's a chance the judge could lower my fine and/or points. She says that the worst case scenario is that the judge makes me pay the normal fine and that I get my points. Is this true?
Plus pay $100 in court fees for the day, and use vacation time at work to go.

I went for almost the exact same offense (37 in a 25, I think). I had a lawyer. (Luckily, my college friend is now a traffic lawyer in FFX). She said, and I trust her, that she sees dozens of people every day get run over because they show up without representation. Even WITH representation, the judge that day was particularly rule-following, and lowered my fine but left the points. But with the added court fees, and the cost of an attorney, it would have cost me more to go to court.
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:16 PM
 
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I had a similar situation a few years ago - got a ticket for 18 mph over the speed limit (43 in a 25, I think), went to FFX county traffic court with copies of both my VA driving record and previous state's driving record to show that my record was good and this was my first ever ticket. I did not whine to the judge about how the cop was waiting at the bottom of a hill, or how it was 11:30 at night with nobody else on the road - just a straightforward request that my excellent driving record be taken into consideration. The judge knocked it down to only 8 mph over. He did not seem as receptive to folks who were trying to make 101 excuses for why they were speeding, so assuming you have a generally good record I'd focus on that.

I AM a lawyer (though not a traffic lawyer) but I would not say that you need to spend the $$ for an attorney for something like a one-off speeding ticket that's not in the "reckless driving" range - I was only a first-year lawyer at the time, and there were plenty of people before me representing themselves successfully on similar tickets. The benefit in having one is that they can speak to the Commonwealth's attorney and try and negotiate a resolution before you sit around waiting for your case to be called - I was not admitted in VA at the time and so had to wait to go before the judge, so I don't know whether negotiating with the Commonwealth's attorney would have had a better resolution or not, but in my case for a simple ticket any benefit wouldn't have been significant enough to warrant hiring an attorney.
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Old 04-18-2012, 12:31 PM
 
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Originally Posted by VRE332 View Post
The amount of time you spend taking off a morning from work and burning vacation time, plus hassle of parking over there will might as well pay the darn ticket online and get over it.
Well that's what I would normally do, but I also got a speeding ticket last year in MD (68mph in a 55) on Memorial Day weekend driving to the in-law's. With this recent ticket and last year's ticket, that's 8 points in an 9 month span....that's nothing to sneeze at. Even though I hadn't received a ticket in almost 10 years prior to my ticket last year, my driving record doesn't look so good now...hence the reason for me thinking about going to traffic court.

FWIW, I called FFX County general district court and the lady said I'd have to pay the $62 court fee whether I go to court or pre-pay the fine...it doesn't matter. My main concern isn't the fine, it's the points.
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Old 04-18-2012, 01:05 PM
 
Location: Censorshipville...
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You can log into DMV and see how many points you have. If you've had a good record for a while, you could actually accumulate positive points. The most you can get is +5 points. If you take a driver improvement class you can also receive positive points, but you can only do that every few years.
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Old 04-18-2012, 01:43 PM
 
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When I sat in Ffx county court all day, I saw a lot of people get speeding tickets reduced to "failure to obey a posted sign" or something like that. They would plead no contest and then just say that they had no real excuse, just hadn't realized they were speeding. Then the judge would reduce the charge and impose a fine, usually 10-30, depending on the person's driving record. Most people had 4 or 5 points. I am not sure what the court costs are though, and if they are higher if you actually go to court. Also, you have to sit there a long time waiting for your turn, so if your fine is not high it might not be worth it.
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Old 04-18-2012, 01:59 PM
 
301 posts, read 587,602 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by oneasterisk View Post
You can log into DMV and see how many points you have. If you've had a good record for a while, you could actually accumulate positive points. The most you can get is +5 points. If you take a driver improvement class you can also receive positive points, but you can only do that every few years.
Thanks oneasterisk. I just pulled up my driving record on the DMV website and I have +1 point...so it matches up w/ what you said (I must've already had +5 and then got 4 deducted from last year's speeding ticket). So after this recent ticket, I'll have -3. I guess that's not too terrible considering I could always take that driver improvement class if needed.

I called my insurance company and they said the # of points I get from the DMV has no bearing on their own point system. They look at each ticket I get and assign their own point system (and corresponding rate increase). They don't see the tickets until they're processed by the courts. They also said the driver improvement class will not reduce my rates. They don't reduce your premium for taking that class until you turn 55. So as far as my insurance premiums go, I could possibly see some benefit if the judge were to reduce my speeding ticket from 16 over the limit to 9 over. Otherwise, there won't be much of a difference whether I go to court or not.

That being said, I suppose the possibility of the cop not showing up or the judge dismissing the speeding ticket entirely (and just making me pay a fine) is pretty remote huh?
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Old 04-18-2012, 02:40 PM
 
1,197 posts, read 1,830,208 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by yolli71 View Post
That being said, I suppose the possibility of the cop not showing up or the judge dismissing the speeding ticket entirely (and just making me pay a fine) is pretty remote huh?
Yes, it is totally worth going. If the time lost traveling to court is not a big deal, the worst you can do is what you have now and the $60 court fee.

Judges may not be able to direct reduce points, but they can do lesser charges that carry less points - like pleading guilty to improper driving (no points), or reducing your guilty speed to the next tier down.

Plead no contest (make no excuses about your son). You might be able to get driver's school, or you might get really lucky and the officer doesn't show up (high unlikely). I would guess that the judge will do you a favor and at least knock your speed down to the next tier.

Worth a shot in my book.
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