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Old 06-03-2012, 07:12 AM
 
6 posts, read 38,831 times
Reputation: 25

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I recently had the pleasure of sitting up in Fairfax County VA General District court for several traffic citations. My cases were one of the last ones called so I got to miss hours of work while sitting and listening to everyone else's stories as I waited for my name to be called. Here are my observations:

1. Most people were in there for speeding tickets, and none of these people really received a "break" from the judge.

2. Those with a plus (+) balance of points on their license got their fines reduced by the judge, but were still found guilty of the offense. So even though the judge wouldn't comment on how many demerit points the defendant would lose on their license because the DMV handles that, I assume that the person would still lose the full amount of points. The only advantage to having + points on your license was a lesser fine. Those with negative points paid the full fine.

3. Many people were in there for Reckless Driving charges (a stupid charge in VA. If you go over 80mph or 20mph above the speed limit, you can be charged with the misdemeanor of Reckless Driving, at the officer's discretion. Meaning that sometimes, depending on the officer's mood, he can still give you a speeding ticket even if you are going at a reckless speed). I have never seen anybody going to jail for Reckless Driving, even though it is possible in serious cases. Most people found guilty of Reckless Driving paid a fine of $200+ and the DMV also takes 6 points off your license.

4. The judge won't give you a lesser charge on your request. The only way to do this is to get a lawyer. I noticed that many people who originally had Reckless Driving charges, had a lawyer who was able to get some blue peice of paper attached to thier file. This blue sheet was an "amended charge", usually for speeding. So I guess this means that the person is found guilty of speeding and not Reckless Driving, and pays that lesser fine and gets those points. Hence, you need a lawyer in Fairfax County to get your Reckless Driving charge dropped. Get a lawyer for any misdemeanor (like DUIs). I'm not sure if it is even worth getting a lawyer for a speeding charge, but you can try and maybe get your serious speeding reduced to Improper Driving (only 3 points and less fine). Even those good + drivers still got convicted of speeding on this day, but paid a lesser fine.

5. When your name is called, you enter your plea, then the cop says how many points are on your license and how many convictions you've had. They usually only have your VA driving record, but in one case they had convictions from MD on one guy's record. Maybe MD, VA, and maybe DC share records? See this document on point assessments and how long convictions stay on your VA driving record: http://www.dmv.virginia.gov/webdoc/pdf/dmv115.pdf. Points come off in 2 years, regardless of how long the conviction stays on there. The cop will also give his account of what happened first, and then you tell your side of the story. The judge will ALWAYS side with the cop.

6. Fairfax County does NOT send you to driving school in order to get your case reduced or dismissed. If you go to traffic school on your own voluntarily, it is only so you get those +5 points you can get every two years, to offset the points that you will lose when you are convicted.

7. For non moving violations (window tints, expired tags, expired registration, etc.), you can get your case dismissed with proof that you have corrected the problem such as pictures of your corrected car, receipts from the shop, and such.

8. Only one guy was taken out in handcuffs. But he had a DUI and a Reckless Driving charge. The judge fined him plus 2 days in jail (actually 90 day sentence with 88 days suspended, which is like 88 days of probation).

9. Only one guy got his license suspended on the spot. He had 3 prior licnese suspensions, several prior speeding tickets still on his record, and his lame story that he told the judge was so pathetic and stupid that a little kid could have came up with a better lie.

10. One girl was cited for going over 100mph in a 55 zone. I don't know what happened to her, but she had her case continued. She may face jail time or a license suspension for this egregious case.

11. Don't bother to try to talk to the cop outside before court to get a deal. They won't do it and won't give any legal advice. They will give you some general response. I've heard stories of some people finding a traffic lawyer in the halls on the spot, giving them a few hundred dollars, and the lawyer will work out a deal for you with the commonwealth of VA right there. Again, you need a lawyer to get a deal.

And despite what the cop tells you when you are pulled over, if you prepay your fine online, that is admitting guilt and you will still get all of the associated demerit points and any associated insurance rate increase! There is a misconception out there that prepaying your fine online avoids the points, nope!

Now things can vary by what judge you have for the day. I am by no means a lawyer so this is not legal advice, just my first hand observation.

Last edited by Big Toe; 06-03-2012 at 07:22 AM..
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Old 06-03-2012, 08:20 AM
Status: "Amityville Summer" (set 10 days ago)
 
Location: in my living room
1,130 posts, read 1,869,744 times
Reputation: 1723
Simple solution- the numbers on the speed limit signs are there for a reason. That thing on your dashboard that has numbers -match them with the sign.
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:06 AM
 
4,711 posts, read 10,889,243 times
Reputation: 3774
Quote:
Originally Posted by thatdurncat13 View Post
Simple solution- the numbers on the speed limit signs are there for a reason. That thing on your dashboard that has numbers -match them with the sign.

Really.

I see from Big Toe's report that Fairfax County traffic court hasn't changed much in the 40 or so years since my last ticket. I've concluded that it's so much cheaper and easier to just obey the law.
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Old 06-03-2012, 09:22 AM
 
581 posts, read 2,021,433 times
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Not all VA courts are the same. Fairfax sounds brutal..

I received a 83/70 in Richmond. I represented myself, pled guilty and asked for leniancy.
I had a clean record. The judge dismissed the ticket provided I complete online traffic school.
No lawyer needed.

Everyone that I saw charged with "30+ over" got 3 (or more) days in jail + suspended lic+ huge fines.
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Old 06-03-2012, 10:11 AM
 
1,197 posts, read 1,830,208 times
Reputation: 990
I'm assuming this is all based off of one judge? So instead of Fairfax County what you really mean is "this particular judge" in Fairfax County? There are many stores in the reckless thread of people going in without a lawyer (even in Fairfax County) and having no problem getting their reckless driving charge dropped.

The thing I take away from your post is that assuming missing whatever you would be doing by going to court is not a problem for you, you have nothing to lose by going to traffic court. Maybe people didn't get the big break they thought they were going to, but ask anyone who had the cop not show up and got their ticket straight up dismissed (or was given driving school) whether or not it was worth it to go.

If you can't take a day off to go to court then you need to drive slower or just mail it in.
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Old 06-03-2012, 12:08 PM
 
Location: Arlington, VA and Washington, DC
23,628 posts, read 33,413,509 times
Reputation: 32335
Quote:
Originally Posted by thatdurncat13 View Post
Simple solution- the numbers on the speed limit signs are there for a reason. That thing on your dashboard that has numbers -match them with the sign.
What you going to do when everyone else is going 10 over and going to run you off the road, even in the slow lane?
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Old 06-03-2012, 02:04 PM
 
6 posts, read 38,831 times
Reputation: 25
Yes, every court in VA is different, and every judge is different. So my post is for this one particular judge on this day, in Fairfax County Court only. There was one old guy in court that day that said that it was his first ticket in 60 years! While you heard the entire court whisper "damn!" at once when he said that, the judge just smirked and slightly shook his head and gave the guy a small fine.

I am assuming the DMV gives the same demerit points even though these "good drivers" paid less fines because it sounds like they were still convicted of the same offense regardless, but I would think insurance rates won't increase for these people. Of course, I don't know for sure so someone else can confirm this if it you know first hand.

There was a court I had to go to years ago farther south in VA for Reckless Driving and the fines were extremely steep, I had to pay like 3x as much as Fairfax County for a Reckless Driving by Speed charge, and it was my first ticket ever!

In my experince from being in the Washington DC metro area, Faifax County VA does have the most strict traffic laws. I only get pulled over in VA. I have made a resolution to try to drive slower and less aggressive, it is hard because I was raised in this area and aggressive driving is the way of life, but I am trying.
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Old 06-03-2012, 06:20 PM
 
815 posts, read 1,109,217 times
Reputation: 1767
Gotta ask this, Big Toe...are you the little brother of this forum's poster Bigfoot?
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Old 06-03-2012, 06:31 PM
 
Location: Virginia-Shenandoah Valley
6,580 posts, read 10,885,792 times
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Quote:
Originally Posted by ICS67 View Post
Gotta ask this, Big Toe...are you the little brother of this forum's poster Bigfoot?

I see what you did there...........
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Old 06-03-2012, 06:34 PM
 
Location: Virginia-Shenandoah Valley
6,580 posts, read 10,885,792 times
Reputation: 5603
Quote:
Originally Posted by Big Toe View Post
Yes, every court in VA is different, and every judge is different. So my post is for this one particular judge on this day, in Fairfax County Court only. There was one old guy in court that day that said that it was his first ticket in 60 years! While you heard the entire court whisper "damn!" at once when he said that, the judge just smirked and slightly shook his head and gave the guy a small fine.

I am assuming the DMV gives the same demerit points even though these "good drivers" paid less fines because it sounds like they were still convicted of the same offense regardless, but I would think insurance rates won't increase for these people. Of course, I don't know for sure so someone else can confirm this if it you know first hand.

There was a court I had to go to years ago farther south in VA for Reckless Driving and the fines were extremely steep, I had to pay like 3x as much as Fairfax County for a Reckless Driving by Speed charge, and it was my first ticket ever!

In my experince from being in the Washington DC metro area, Faifax County VA does have the most strict traffic laws. I only get pulled over in VA. I have made a resolution to try to drive slower and less aggressive, it is hard because I was raised in this area and aggressive driving is the way of life, but I am trying.
I don't buy this. I moved here, as a teen, in 1973 and know a thing or two about driving in the metro area. It's a way of life because you've let it become so.
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