Prepaying Speeding Tickets
Should I prepay my speeding ticket?
When you prepay a speeding ticket you are pleading guilty to speeding. If you do not want to plead guilty, DO NOT prepay the speeding ticket. In order to know whether to prepay a speeding ticket, ask yourself the following questions.
Can I prepay my speeding ticket?
In Virginia a driver cannot prepay tickets for criminal offenses if there is the possibility of jail time. If you cannot prepay a speeding ticket it may be because you are charged with reckless driving. Reckless driving is a criminal offense that can be very similar to speeding but carries the possibility of jail time and/or a six-month license suspension. You cannot prepay a reckless driving ticket in Virginia.
Driving more than 20 mph over the speed limit or faster than 80 mph is a form of reckless driving In Virginia. Many drivers confuse reckless driving tickets with speeding tickets. If you have been charged with reckless driving, retain a reckless driving attorney immediately. For more information about reckless driving, click here.
Will the DMV restrict my license?
The Virginia DMV may take away or restrict your Virginia driver’s license if you receive a speeding ticket and:
- are under 18 years of age
- are on DMV probation
- were on DMV probation within the last 18 months
- have had more than one traffic infraction in the last twelve months or two traffic tickets in the last 24 months
- have multiple pending speeding tickets
(If you are licensed in another state, consult your state’s DMV to find out whether a Virginia
speeding ticket may affect your driving privileges).
The Virginia DMV can suspend a Virginia driver’s license, place the driver on probation, or require the driver to attend driver improvement classes if a driver accumulates excessive demerit points. Virginia traffic court judges cannot control DMV suspensions or the DMV demerit point system. A Virginia traffic court judge cannot alter the number of demerit points assessed once you are convicted of speeding.
Drivers under the age of 18 who receive a demerit-point conviction must attend a driver improvement class. Failure to complete the class within 90 days will result in a license suspension until the program is completed. A second demerit-point conviction results in a 90-day license suspension. A third demerit-point conviction results in a suspension lasting one year or until the offender reaches age 18, whichever is longer.
|Consequences of Demerit Points in Virginia (Adult Drivers)|
|Within 12 months||Within 24 months|
|8 points||Letter from DMV||Nothing|
|12 points||Mandatory driver-improvement class||Letter from DMV|
|18 points||Mandatory 90-day license suspension + driver-improvement class + probation for six months||Mandatory driver-improvement class|
|24 points||Mandatory 90-day license suspension + driver-improvement class + probation for six months||Mandatory 90-day license suspension + driver-improvement class + probation for six months|
For adult drivers, accumulating eight demerit points in twelve months or twelve points in 24 months will result in an advisory letter from the DMV. Accumulating twelve demerit points within twelve months or 18 points in 24 months will result in a DMV-ordered mandatory driver-improvement class. This class must be completed within 90 days or the driver’s license will be suspended until the class is completed. The driver will then be given six months of probation followed by a control period of 18 months.
Accumulating 18 points in twelve months or 24 points in 24 months results in a mandatory 90-day license suspension. Once the suspension has expired, drivers must complete a driver improvement course before their license will be restored. After receiving back their license, drivers will be given six months of probation.
A driver’s license will be suspended if the driver is convicted of a traffic offense while on DMV probation. The suspension will last 45 days for a three-point violation, 60 days for a four-point violation, and 90 days for a six-point violation.
Once the suspension ends, the driver will be placed on probation for an additional six months. After probation the driver is put on a “control period” of 18 months. If the driver receives any traffic ticket convictions during the control period, the driver will be placed back on probation for six months followed by another 18-month control period.
Before prepaying speeding tickets, drivers should find out how many points ther violation carries and get a copy of their DMV record to determine whether or not they will accumulate excessive demerit points. Click here to find out the number of demerit points each speeding offense carries.
How will this ticket affect my auto insurance?
All drivers should know how a conviction will affect their insurance before prepaying a speeding ticket. Each insurance company has its own system for evaluating the severity of a given offense. This point system is usually different from Virginia’s DMV demerit-point system. Because each company, policy and driver are unique, you should talk to your insurance provider before agreeing to prepay a speeding ticket. In some cases (such as speeding more than 20 mph over the limit) insurance costs may far exceed court costs, attorney’s fees combined.
Although it is very difficult to predict the exact effects of a speeding ticket on your insurance premiums, here are some generalities. The better your driving record and the lower your premiums, the more likely it is that your premium will increase significantly. If your insurance provider is a preferred provider, a conviction is also more likely to increase your insurance premiums.
When insurance premiums increase they typically remain at those levels for either three or five years. Consequently, if you are convicted of going 76 mph in a 55 mph zone and your insurance goes up $400 a year, then you are looking at either $1200 or $2000 in additional insurance costs over the next three or five years. Make sure you know how a conviction will affect your insurance before you prepay a speeding ticket.
Will this ticket affect my job?
If you drive for a living or have a job that requires background checks, make sure you fully appreciate the consequences of a speeding conviction on your employment before prepaying a speeding ticket.
If you drive for your work and your employer pays auto insurance for its employees, it likely has a strict policy regarding which speeding tickets its employees can and cannot receive. Do not prepay a ticket unless you are sure it will not affect your job.
Some types of security clearance can also be affected by a conviction for speeding. Some security clearances require disclosure of traffic infractions as well as criminal convictions. Some security clearances require disclosure of any traffic ticket that carries a fine over a specific dollar amount. Other security clearances can be jeopardized by accumulating more than a specific number of traffic tickets. If your employment requires any sort of security clearance, find out exactly how your speeding ticket may affect your job before you prepay.
Will this ticket affect my probation?
There are two types of probation: active probation and inactive probation. Active probation is when you have a probation officer and is typically for felony convictions. Inactive probation does not require a probation officer and simply means that you must “be of good behavior” for a specific period of time after your conviction.
Inactive probation is common for misdemeanor convictions in Virginia. After completing inactive probation the offender must pass a background check in which a court officer checks to see if the offender has had any legal problems within the term of his probation. If he has, then he is summoned before a judge and may be forced to serve additional jail time or pay additional fines. Some judges consider speeding tickets a violation of inactive probation and others do not.
If you get a speeding ticket while on active probation, contact your probation officer immediately to see if prepaying the ticket may affect you. If you are on inactive probation, consult a local traffic attorney prior to prepaying your speeding ticket. If you have been convicted of any misdemeanor crime (including DUI and reckless driving) within the last year there is a high likelihood that you are on inactive probation.
Will prepaying this speeding ticket expose me to a lawsuit?
If your speeding ticket involved an accident or injuries then prepaying your ticket may make it easier for others to sue you and harder for you to recover compensation from others. This may be true even if the speeding ticket is dismissed after a court-ordered driver improvement program. Many of the driver improvement programs in Virginia require drivers to plead guilty before entering the program. That admission of guilt may be used as evidence in a lawsuit even if the speeding ticket is later dismissed.
Pleading “no contest” will not protect a driver from civil liability in Virginia. By statute, a plea of “no contest” is the same as a guilty plea in Virginia. If your speeding ticket also involved an accident or injuries, consult a local traffic attorney immediately and discuss the possibility of civil liability before prepaying your speeding ticket.
Will prepaying my speeding ticket hurt my pending court case?
If you have multiple pending tickets or criminal charges, prepaying a speeding ticket may affect the outcome of your other cases. Even a small speeding ticket can have major effects on later and more serious charges. For example, being convicted of speeding 10 mph over the limit prior to going to court for reckless driving can have serious effects on the outcome of the reckless driving case. Be sure to talk to a local Virginia traffic attorney before prepaying any speeding tickets if you have multiple cases pending.
Can I still fight my speeding ticket if I already prepaid it?
If you prepaid a speeding ticket and later want to fight the ticket consult a local traffic attorney immediately. In some jurisdictions, you may be able to revoke your plea of guilty and fight the ticket, though the way to do this varies by jurisdiction. If you are found not guilty then the money you paid will be refunded. If you are not able to revoke your plea of guilty or if the court date has already past, you can appeal your decision to the circuit court within 10 days of your court date. To learn more about appealing cases, click here.
How can I prepay my speeding ticket?
You can prepay your ticket in person at court, by phone, by mail (call your local traffic court to find out how), or online. If you prepay your speeding ticket you will be found guilty. Make sure you know all of the consequences of a conviction before you prepay a speeding ticket.
To prepay a ticket follow these steps:
- Read your summons carefully. Check for errors and read the NOTICE on the back and front of the summons. (To learn more about potential errors click here).
- If you are under 18, you must complete the section on the summons entitled “PROCEDURE IF MOTORIST IS A JUVENILE.” This section requires a notarized signature of a parent or guardian if you are going to pay by mail (you cannot pay online if you are under 18).
- Read the charges against you as they appear on the summons.
- If the officer gave you a “VIRGINIA PREPAYABLE OFFENSES INFORMATION SHEET”, find your offense(s) on the right side of the information sheet and calculate the fines.
- Follow the instructions on the summons in the “PRETRIAL WAIVER AND PREPAYMENT INSTRUCTIONS” section.
- If your violation is not found in the Table on the Information Sheet or you were not given a “VIRGINIA PREPAYABLE OFFENSES INFORMATION SHEET” by the arresting officer, please call the telephone number listed on your summons for instructions.
- District courts accept money orders, personal checks, certified checks and credit cards. Make your check payable to the applicable district court. (For example: “Fairfax County General District Court.”)
- If you want to pay with a credit card and you have a “VIRGINIA PREPAYABLE OFFENSES INFORMATION SHEET” complete the back of the sheet where it says “Credit Card Authorization.” If you were not given the “VIRGINIA PREPAYABLE OFFENSES INFORMATION SHEET,” you may call the court and provide the clerk with your credit card information or go online and make a payment (online payments are not available for defendant’s under 18). There is a four percent surcharge for payments by credit card.
- If paying by mail, mail your payment to the court listed on the top of the summons. Click here for the addresses of the General District Court, Juvenile and Domestic Relations District Court, and Circuit Court.
If the court will not let you prepay your speeding ticket, it most likely means that you are charged with reckless driving NOT speeding. Reckless driving is a criminal charge with the possibility of a six-month loss of license and twelve months in jail. Consult a reckless driving attorney immediately.
Why can I not prepay my ticket?
If you can find your case online but there is no option for you to prepay this most likely means that you are being charged with a criminal offense. You should hire an attorney immediately.
If you or the clerk cannot find your court case there are a couple things that may be happening. The officer may not have turned in his copy of the summons to the court, in which case it has not been entered into the system. In such a case you will have to go to the court in person with a copy of your summons, or call and give the clerk the information from your summons, or wait until the officer has entered your case into the court’s computer system.
If you cannot find your case online, make sure that you entered the information exactly as it appears on your summons. In particular, check to see that you have entered the right court (e.g. Fairfax County not Fairfax City).
If are having any other problems paying your fines, contact your traffic court clerk for additional help.