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What Are Virginia Traffic Court Records?
Virginia traffic court records are the legal documents and case files created, from the proceedings of the traffic courts in the state of Virginia. These encompass records related to moving violations and non-moving under the motor vehicle code of the state of Virginia. Traffic tickets are issued by law enforcement officials of the state of Virginia usually police officers and highway state troopers.
Are Traffic Court Records Public Records in Virginia?
Virginia traffic court records are public records. Therefore, they may be accessed and viewed by members of the public. The only reason public access to public records can be restricted is by a court order issued by a judge or if access to that record is prohibited by law.
Which Courts in Virginia have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
Traffic violation cases in Virginia are handled by the General District Courts. These courts hear such cases and accept traffic ticket payments.
How Do I Find Virginia Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records may be found online, on the district court’s website or on third-party websites. It is also possible for the public to gain access to physical court records by applying at the court clerk’s office, where all such records are stored. To view or obtain these court records from any court, the applicant may visit the court clerk’s office to make the request. It is possible for the applicant to view the files, but fees may be charged if copies will be required.
Publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third party sites are not government sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
What information is required to obtain Virginia Traffic Court Records?
Relevant information about the record being requested will need to be provided by any person interested in obtaining traffic court records. This information will include, but may not be limited to, the first and last name of the person and social security number. Records can be requested in either an abbreviated or a complete abstract, and the interested person may be required to provide valid identification for verification. There may also have to be a payment of court fees, if and where applicable before you will be able to obtain the records.
Can Virginia Traffic Records be sealed or expunged?
Simple traffic tickets are violations and not criminal acts. This will cease to be included in your DMV point total after a couple of years, and eventually drop off of your record completely. If any was as a result of a criminal conviction, such as a misdemeanor for reckless driving, and you were found guilty, it cannot be expunged in the state of Virginia, unless you are granted one by the governor.
How does one end up in a Virginia State Traffic court?
One can end in a Virginia traffic court by electing to challenge a citation received from a law enforcement officer and issued for a traffic violation. The charges brought against you will be considered infractions or violations and not criminal. You can also end up in traffic court if you do not wish to contest the charges but the citation you issued indicates that a court appearance is required.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in Virginia
A Virginia traffic ticket, called a Virginia Uniform Summons, is usually a yellow computer-generated long-form issued for traffic violations. In some instances, it may be a white piece of paper where it is printed from a printer in the officer’s vehicle. This represents a sworn statement from the law enforcement officer detailing the charge. It is issued by the officer and will also be completed by the officer. It will include information of the offender including full name, date of birth, social security number, physical & mailing addresses (if different). It will also detail the vehicle involved and information about the license of the offender. The violation you are being cited for will also be listed along with the location, date and time of the violation. The ticket will indicate the location of the designated court for appearance, date and time for the appearance and the officer can also choose to include written details of the citation charge and his observations at the time.
Virginia traffic tickets carry financial ramifications to the perpetrator in the form of fines and these can eventually come to include added penalties and court fees. The offender is also facing the possibility of points being added on their driving record, and that can cause a license to be suspended or even revoked by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Fines are set by the violation (prescribed by presiding laws and statutes), so they will differ by violation and in some cases, by location.
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 while moving violations include all infractions and crimes committed while the car is moving, such as speeding and hit and run. Generally, non-moving violations are usually minor offenses, punishable by small fines while moving violations are considered more serious offenses and result in more serious penalties.
Traffic ticket fines are due within 40 days of your citation and failure to respond within this allotted time could result in the issuance of an arrest warrant.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in Virginia?
Upon receiving a traffic ticket in Virginia, you are required to respond and either
- Pay the ticket (GUILTY plea)
- Request a Hearing (NOT GUILTY plea)
Regardless of your decision, it must be done before the due date indicated on the ticket. This is usually within 40 days of the date the ticket was issued. Failure to do so is liable to result in more severe consequences.
If you decide to plead GUILTY to a Virginia state traffic summons, you have accepted responsibility for the violation and agreed to all associated penalties, including all fines, fees, and surcharges arising from this plea. You have also consented to waive your right to challenge the ticket in court.
Response to the ticket can be made in person, online or by mail. If a court appearance is not required, then you can pay the fine in person at the courthouse, online or by mail. Instructions for this can be found on the reverse of the ticket. If a court appearance is required, then you must appear in court on the assigned date and time to enter your plea. A GUILTY plea will result in you accepting all associated penalties which can include fines, fees and points on your driving record. In some cases, it is possible to request a mitigation hearing (which could be held on a different date) to reduce the fines and points which might accrue from the guilty plea.
You may be eligible to take the Virginia Driver Improvement course to earn “safe driver” points or reduce applicable fines. This is usually restricted to first-time offenders and verification should be made with the court to ascertain eligibility for the program.
Points will be added to your driving record; the exact amount depending on the severity of the cited violation. A suspension or revocation of your driver’s license is possible. These additional points on your driving record will also most likely result in an increase in insurance payments.
If you plead NOT GUILTY to a Virginia state traffic summons, you have decided to contest the ticket in court and should be prepared to do so. You will be required to make a court appearance on the designated due date and time to enter your plea.
You are required to appear in court on your due date to enter your plea. This is not necessarily the trial date and you may need to appear more times in court to receive your verdict and sentencing (if necessary). Appear in the court on the designated day and stand for the hearing to obtain your verdict from the judge, and this will be based on the case you present so prepare accordingly. The arresting officer will also be present to testify on the traffic violation.
If you are found to be NOT GUILTY, the case will be dismissed and there will be no need to pay the ticket fine nor will you have points added to your record. If the judge finds you GUILTY, you will be required to pay all fines and fees, or face the consequences, and will have points added to your driving record.