Has anyone tried to contest a traffic ticket in Arlington County court? I received a ticket for running a red light and have the option of either paying it, or going to court. I am considering going to court to see if the amount of points could be reduced. (The light had just turned red, so there was some element of judgement involved – the light was not flagrantly red). Has anyone tried to contest a ticket, and if so, have you been successful in getting the amount of points reduced?
Have not, I just paid it because I knew I was in the wrong (crossing a double yellow line). I like your idea of a traffic light being “flagrantly red” vs. Just Red. I don’t think it would hold up in court might just annoy the Judge as well, but I am no judge or lawyer. If you really want to, go ahead, but I say, just pay and try to reduce your points without contesting it, since you were in the wrong… Good luck either way
I would say if you own up to the fact that you ran the light because you just reacted and made the wrong decision, and are willing to pay the fine but ask the points to be reduced, you may have a shot.
I don’t know if my experience will be helpful, but I have twice gone to court and attempt to have the charges dropped or reduced. The first time was a speeding ticket on 395 for going 57 in a 55 (I’m serious here). I didn’t know what I was doing, just went to court. By the time I was done my fine and court costs were $.25 less than if I had simply paid the ticket and gone to work that day.
The second time (about 40 years later) was for for exceeding the limit on the G.W. Parkway. This time I got a copy of my driver’s record from the State (I hadn’t gotten a ticket in the intervening 40 years); got to the Federal Courthouse in Alexandria about 1/2 hour before the court was scheduled to convene, and sought out the Asst. U.S. Attorney who would handle my case. I presented her with a copy of my clean record; explained that I had been driving with only my wife, and none of our kids, and I wasn’t paying attention to my speed because I was enjoying being on a “date” with her. She agreed to modify the charge to the next lower catagory, which meant a lower fine and fewer points. I could then just pay the fine and leave the building, which is what I did.
Needless to say the second approach is the one I’d recommend.
BTW, you may want to refer to the light as being “deep deep yellow” rather than it not being “flagrantly red.”
I’d love to watch you in court, though -
“Well, Your Honor, the light had just turned red!”
“Wasn’t it yellow before that, though?”
Judges don’t determine points in Virginia. The DMV is just going to assign you points based on whatever the offense is. Since it seems like you are admitting your guilt here, I think your best bet is to show up and hope the officer can’t prove the case. Maybe officer won’t show or won’t have evidence sufficient to convict. If so you should keep your mouth shut and ask the judge to dismiss the charge as the elements of the offense haven’t been met. 5th amendment rights not to speak extend to everything.
Unless you absolutely cannot make it to court, you should always go to court and never pay the fine in advance. a lot of judges appreciate people showing up and taking responsibility. It also helps if you come prepared. As someone previously said, get a copy of your driving record from the DMV. Virginia scores drivers from 1 (the worst) to 5 (the best). If you have a 5 and show proof to the judge, they could be more flexible with the punishment.
Last year, I got a ticket for going 42 in a 25. I went to court, with a copy of my driving record, admitted my guilt, and asked for traffic school. The judge granted the request. I paid the court costs and then took the course online (about $50). The traffic school course I took sent a certification of passage to the court. The benefit of this route is that the ticket was dismissed after passing traffic school and the court does not notify the DMV of the infraction.
Was it just a little bit red? Like people who get a “little bit” pregnant? Seriously – if it was red and you drove through it, I highly doubt any judge is going to think that there was any “element of judgement involved.” If you ran it, I’d say man up, pay your fine, and move on.
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