All Virginia traffic tickets fall under one of two categories: moving and non-moving violations.
Non-moving violations are infractions that occur while your car is not in motion, such as parking violations. Moving violations include all infractions and crimes committed while the car is moving, such as speeding and hit and run.
In this article, we’ll explain the penalties and consequences of a wide variety of moving and non-moving violations in Virginia in order to give you a better understanding of how traffic tickets work.
Moving and Non-Moving Violations in Virginia
There are several differences between moving and non-moving violations in Virginia.
Generally speaking, non-moving violations are usually minor offenses that occur when a car is not in motion, and are punished by small fines. Most people receive non-moving violations for small procedural matters, including:
- Parking Violations – Such as parking in front of a fire hydrant, in a handicapped zone, in a no-parking zone, or beside an expired meter.
- Expired Registration – If an officer pulls you over with expired tags or an expired inspection sticker, you’ll receive a non-moving violation.
- Vehicle Safety Violations – Broken head or tail lights, broken mirrors, taped-up windows, overly tinted windows, and missing license plates are all reasons to hand out a traffic ticket.
On the other hand, moving violations are often more serious matters that can require the assistance of an attorney.
Moving violations are offenses you commit while your car is in motion. Some common examples of moving violations in Virginia include speeding, reckless driving, running red lights and stop signs, and improper passing.
Understandably, moving violations carry much higher penalties since they involve putting other drivers or pedestrians at risk.
What should I do if get a ticket for a non-moving violation?
In most cases, a non-moving violation won’t get you in too much trouble.
At most, you should expect to pay a fine of between $50 and $500. You should also expect to pay whatever it costs to fix the issue you were ticketed for, to avoid getting cited multiple times for the same issue.
Non-moving violations are not criminal charges and won’t significantly impact your driving record, so many people simply choose to pay the ticket and move on.
Some citations, such as one for an expired inspection sticker, may be dismissed by a judge if you can prove that you remedied the violation before your court date. Others may be more serious and will still require that you pay a fine.
Although you have the right to fight the ticket in court, it will probably cost less just to pay the fine than it will to pay the necessary court costs and legal fees.
What should I do if I get a ticket for a moving violation?
When you’re convicted of a moving violation in Virginia, the actions that the court and the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) take will depend on severity of the conviction.
For instance, while speeding and reckless driving are both moving violations, they carry significantly different penalties for a conviction.
In most cases, traffic infractions such as speeding can be easily dealt with by paying the associated fine online or at your local courthouse. Traffic crimes, such as reckless driving, DUI, and hit and run, will instead require the assistance of the attorney.
Penalties for Moving Violations in Virginia
If you’re convicted of a moving violation, there are several penalties you should expect.
In almost all cases, the DMV will post the conviction on your driving record and assign you demerit points.
On the other hand, the judge’s actions will depend on the severity of the offense, and whether you’re a habitual offender. The judge may suspend your license, order you to take a driver improvement class, or assign fines or jail time.
Your offense will also be placed on your motor vehicle record, which your insurance company can access any time. In this way, moving violations will often affect your insurance premiums.
DMV Demerit Points
The DMV will assign you demerit points when you’re convicted of any moving violation. The number of points will vary depending on the offense:
Demerit points can add up, especially if you get more than one violation in a short period of time.
These points stay on your record for 2 years from the date you commit the offense. See the DMV website for a more complete list of point violations.
Driver Improvement Clinic
In some cases, the court will offer a chance to take a driver improvement clinic to reduce or dismiss the charges for a moving violation.
If the judge gives you the option to go to driving school, you should take it. Sacrificing a Saturday in exchange for keeping a moving violation and its demerit points off your driving record is worth it.
Raised Insurance Premiums
Every time you get new auto insurance or renew your policy, your insurance company will look at your motor vehicle record. All your traffic violations, moving and non-moving, are listed on that record.
If the insurance company sees a moving violation on your record, they may increase your premium. Some insurance companies even have a additional “point” system similar to the DMV points that they use to calculate premiums.
How each insurance company calculates premiums is up to them. The main point to understand is that moving violations can lead to higher insurance premiums.
Loss of Driving Privileges
A judge may decide to suspend your license for certain moving violations, such as getting too many demerit points within a 2-year period or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs.
The court could suspend your license for days or even years depending on the circumstances. Habitual DUI offenders, for example, can have their license revoked entirely.
Finally, as noted above some moving violations are actually criminal offenses. This means that a conviction could result in any number of criminal penalties, such as massive fines and jail time.
For example, reckless driving, hit and run, and driving with a suspended license are all misdemeanors in Virginia.
The length of time a conviction remains on your criminal record depends on the severity of the offense. In a few cases, the conviction will stay on your record permanently.
“Non-moving violations” are generally infractions which involve a car that is not in motion. “Moving violations” are infractions and crimes that are committed while a car is in motion.
Non-moving offenses are normally very minor issues that don’t even put points on your license. However, moving violations range from speeding tickets all the way up to felony traffic offenses.
If you decide to fight a moving violation ticket in court, you’ll want to get an experienced lawyer to help you. Your lawyer will advise you about whether you can fight the charges, and if you should aim for a reduced sentence or a dismissal of the charges.