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NOVA Legal Beat: How Fast Were You Going?

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Editor’s Note: This sponsored column is written by Mathew B. Tully of Tully Rinckey PLLC.

Q. If you get pulled over, what is the best way to respond to a police officer’s question of “Do you know how fast you were going?”

A. Of all the questions that we attorneys get, this is definitely one of the most common. At some point, almost everyone who drives will have some encounter with the police and nothing causes more anxiety than what to say. Since any statements will be used against you in court, it is of the utmost importance that you don’t incriminate yourself. Otherwise you may ruin any chance you have to contest the inevitable ticket.

However, you also do not want to lie to the police officer either. Experienced officers have heard just about any excuse or lie you may come up with, and they won’t get you out of the ticket. One of the biggest factors considered by the Commonwealth in any plea negotiations is your attitude towards the police officer, and lying may short-circuit any negotiations before they start.

So what is a driver to do when admitting guilt or lying about it can cause you problems at court? My recommendation is simply to express uncertainty or ask the officer to tell you how fast you were going. One of the most common issues in speeding cases is the calibration of speedometers, so it is quite likely you weren’t going exactly the same speed you thought you were anyway. The most important thing is to be polite, courteous, and non-argumentative with any police officer. Even the most skilled orators are not likely to talk their way out of a ticket, so why risk aggravating the officer and ruining any chances of leniency at court? The best advice is to say nothing substantive and let your attorney handle the talking at court.

Q. I think my ex-husband is lying about how much he earns so he can get away with paying less in child support. What should I do?

A. In theory, determining child support should be a simple process of looking at each party’s income; however, in reality, it is often not that clear cut. In what is probably a surprise to no one, people often under-report their income in an effort to deceive either an ex-spouse or the IRS — and sometimes both. If your ex-husband works for a company and you’re currently litigating the matter, the solution is relatively easy: you can subpoena the company to get its records of his income. If he is self-employed, it gets a little tougher.

For self-employed individuals, attorneys will often want to subpoena bank records, tax returns, and other financial documents to see their actual income. Additionally, if you suspect that they are receiving cash under the table, there is always the ability to subpoena witnesses and put on evidence related to their work and skills. Additionally, if you have a case with the Division of Child Support Enforcement, the division will likely take its own steps to verify your husband’s income. The key in any child support situation is making sure all the numbers are accurate, because the expenses you may incur for health insurance and child care have a more substantive impact on the child support amount than fluctuations in income.

Most importantly, you should discuss your options with an experienced child support attorney. An attorney will be able to run the child support guidelines for you, show you exactly how income differentials will affect your final support amount, and discuss the strategy unique to your situation that you should take going forward.

Mathew B. Tully is the Founding Partner of Tully Rinckey PLLC. Located in Arlington, Va. and Washington, D.C., Tully Rinckey PLLC’s attorneys practice criminal defense, matrimonial and family law, federal employment law and military law. To speak with an attorney, call 703-525-4700 or to learn more visit

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