Prince William County Traffic Offenses

While driving violations may be common, individuals may be overwhelmed by the ensuing legal ramifications. A person accused of Prince William County traffic offenses is recommended to consult a well-practiced attorney for advice and legal representation.

Different Degrees and Aggravating Factors

Traffic offenses in Prince William County embrace a combination of traffic infractions, civil infractions, and traffic-related crimes. Certain infractions could have higher fines since they may not be punished by jail time. Some carry demerit points, administrative license suspensions, fees, or other administrative consequences relating to the Department of Motor Vehicle. Infractions only stay on a person’s driving record for a certain number of years while criminal offenses will remain on their record permanently.

A Class 2 or Class 1 Misdemeanor traffic offense is potentially punishable with jail time and thousands of dollars in fines. All felony traffic offenses may be punished with years in jail and even higher fines. After the case, certain misdemeanors and felonies may have:

  • Mandatory minimum fines
  • Mandatory minimum jail sentences
  • Mandatory minimum license penalties
  • Mandatory minimum probationary requirements

Examples of Speeding-Related Infractions

Speeding infractions are typically charged as one of four different offenses:

  • Speeding 1 to 9 miles per hour over the posted limit
  • Speeding 10 to 14 miles per hour over the posted limit
  • Speeding 15 to 19 miles per hour over the posted limit
  • Speeding 20 or more miles per hour over the posted limit

A person could be charged with either speeding or reckless driving in a rare amount of cases if there is a problem with proving the speed, or if the prosecutor or officer is persuaded to give a better infraction to the defendant based on a faulty speedometer. Speeding charges are
considered lesser traffic infractions and are commonly reduced to failure to obey a highway sign or driving with defective equipment.

Where are Traffic Cases Heard in Prince William County?

Traffic infraction cases are typically heard in the Prince William General District Court, which is located on the second floor of the courthouse in Manassas. If the driver of the vehicle was underage, the infraction could be heard in the Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court which is located on the first floor. Traffic offenses may be heard in the Prince William County Circuit Court if a person is also charged with other felonies that have been certified to the circuit court, or if they have been appealed to the circuit court. The circuit court is located on the third floor of the Prince William County Court House.

Misdemeanor Cases

Traffic misdemeanor cases are typically heard in the Prince William County General District Court. The Prince William County Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court will have jurisdiction if the defendant is a minor. If a person is charged with misdemeanors that are simultaneous to other felony charges, the misdemeanors could be sent up to the Prince William County Circuit Court with the felonies after a preliminary hearing if the defendant so chooses. Misdemeanors could also be heard in the circuit court if they are appealed there after an initial judgment in the General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court.

How to Appeal Traffic Infraction Convictions

Any judgment from the Prince William County General District Court or Juvenile and Domestic Relations Court could be appealed as a matter of right to the Prince William County Circuit Court. This could include traffic infraction judgments. To appeal a case, one must file their appeal with the original court within 10 days of the initial judgment. To file an appeal, there is a specific form in the Traffic Court clerk’s office where a person must sign their name and provide other basic information. On appeal, the case is heard once more. The outcome in the previous court will not be formally considered or relevant. An appeal may substantially raise the court costs charged at the end of the case if one is ultimately found guilty.

Possible Penalties a Defendant May Face

While Prince William County traffic offenses are not generally punishable with jail time, they may carry potential collateral administrative penalties and up to $500 in fines. These penalties may include demerit points and, in certain cases, license suspensions.

Factors that May Elevate an Infraction to a Misdemeanor

An infraction for traffic offenses in Prince William County may be upgraded to a misdemeanor if it was repeated a certain number of times and is done in a way that is notably dangerous to any person or property. While there may not be many infractions that could be elevated into misdemeanors, a misdemeanor may be elevated into more serious misdemeanors or felony offenses.

Defining Traffic Misdemeanors

A traffic misdemeanor is any misdemeanor that involves driving or operating a motor vehicle, or failing to satisfy some sort of licensing requirements under Virginia Law. Most traffic misdemeanors are punishable with potential jail time, fines, probation, and administrative penalties from the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. Traffic misdemeanors carry the possibility of jail time and fines exceeding $500. Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that could appear on a person’s criminal record forever. They may also appear on one’s driving record for a certain amount of years. Prince William County defendants could speak to a skilled attorney with experienced in traffic offenses when facing such penallties.

Examples of Speed-Related Misdemeanors

Common examples of speed-related misdemeanors may include reckless driving by speed, aggressive driving, and eluding police without endangerment.

Possible Penalties

The maximum potential penalties for traffic misdemeanors include a jail sentence of up to 12 months and a fine of up to $2,500. These penalties depend on the specific misdemeanor. There may also be months or years of:

  • Court-Ordered License Suspension
  • Mandatory Minimum Jail Sentences
  • Mandatory Minimum Fines
  • Mandatory Minimum terms of probation

Traffic misdemeanors also implicate the similar or harsher amount of collateral administrative penalties with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles. This could include demerit points and administrative license suspensions, revocations, or courthouse offender classifications.

Appealing Convictions

Any person could appeal a traffic misdemeanor conviction as a matter of right to the circuit court if they file their appeal from the initial misdemeanor court within 10 days of that court’s final judgment in the case.

Reach out to an accomplished attorney if you are facing Prince William County Traffic Offenses. A lawyer could champion your case.