Publications & Seminars
Related Articles: Traffic/DWI
Why do I need a lawyer in Traffic Court?
Many traffic court matters (in Virginia) are considered misdemeanors, such as DWI, Hit & Run, Reckless Driving and Driving on a Suspended or Revoked License. Some offenses may even rise to the level of a felony such as 3rd offense DWIs and certain Hit & Run offenses. These offenses are criminal in nature and can result in a jail sentence, as well as an extended suspension of your driver's license.
Whether you are charged with an offense that is criminal in nature or a basic traffic offense, Traffic Court matters have serious financial and economic implications beyond the fine and costs assessed by the Court. These costs may include potential increases in your insurance premiums and loss of driving privileges. The point system in most states, including Virginia, may further penalize your ability to retain a driver's license if you accumulate traffic court convictions. In addition, depending upon your occupation, the ability to retain a driver's license and to avoid a criminal conviction could be crucial to your career.
For many people, traffic court is their first experience with the American legal system. It is a system with complex rules and procedures. A lawyer knows how to navigate through the law, the rules and the court procedures. Experienced counsel knows the inclinations of the various judges and the prosecutors. A lawyer is in the best position to recognize mistakes made by the prosecution and is able to assist with the technical defenses available to people who find themselves in Traffic Court. Many traffic defenses involve complex and technical issues.
In most prosecutions of a DWI, the State relies upon a scientific test to prove intoxication. The machine used by the police takes a sample of your breath because the laws against drunk driving are keyed to the amount of alcohol in your blood at the time you are driving. Often the breath sample is not obtained until an hour or longer after the police stop or the actual driving activity. This opens the door for scientific and technical defenses with the assistance of experts in the field of toxicology, who understand the science of measuring blood alcohol content.
Speed related offenses are dependent upon the ability of the police officer to accurately measure the speed of the offending driver's vehicle. Different methods are utilized to measure speed including standing radar, moving radar, laser devices, timing devices, and pacing. With each method the burden is on the prosecution to demonstrate that the police officer has used accurate and properly calibrated measuring devices. A capable lawyer can assess and recognize whether the prosecution can prove its case.
A lawyer can advise you regarding viable defenses; help you present defenses that work; and, when appropriate, can negotiate a satisfactory plea bargain. A lawyer can protect your rights and prevent you from being taken advantage of by an overloaded or impersonal legal system. A lawyer can help you obtain a restricted driver's license if you are qualified for one. In short, a lawyer is your ally in a complex and often hostile system.
Return to Traffic/DWI articles
Return to Publications & Seminars