The most basic right of those accused of a criminal offense is the right to defend themselves against the allegations in court. This right is so strong that those accused of serious criminal offenses even have the right to a state-provided attorney.
Many people do not make use of their right to go to court and fight the charges against them. Individuals facing traffic tickets are even less likely to assert their right to a defense. The average person issued a ticket by a Virginia police officer will probably simply pay the ticket instead of trying to defend themselves.
What is the issue with paying a ticket and pleading guilty to a traffic infraction?
Traffic tickets affect your license
Each ticket that you receive is an indication that you have violated the law and that you are at increased risk of causing a crash compared to those who follow traffic laws carefully. Eventually, if you receive too many tickets, your driving habits could cost you your license.
If you stand accused of reckless driving, driving while under the influence, traveling at more than 20 miles per hour over the limit or driving on a suspended license, the state will add six points to your license at once. Lesser violations can lead to two or four points. Once you have 18 points added to your license in 12 months or 24 points added within 24 months, you will lose your license.
You can potentially reduce the number of demerit points by adding safe points. You can accrue one safe point for each year you have a license but do not have any citations. You can also obtain five safe points for attending a driver improvement clinic. Those safe points can help those with too many demerit points from prior citations regain their driving privileges.
Traffic court is always an option
Regardless of the circumstances leading to your citation, you will almost always have the legal right to go to court and to fight back. The cost and effort investment required to defend yourself may be significant, but it may be worthwhile when you compare those short-term investments with the long-term costs of losing your license. There’s also the increase in your insurance premiums that will affect how much it costs you to drive after a traffic ticket.