Types of Traffic Offenses and Their Penalties in Virginia

traffic offenses and penalties vaTraffic offenses often seem minor, but they can have serious consequences.

For some, even owing a fine can throw off your monthly budget, not to mention risks like losing your license or spending time in jail. So what is a traffic offense, and what happens if you are accused of one?

There are three types of traffic offenses in Virginia:

  • Traffic infractions,
  • Traffic misdemeanors, and
  • Traffic felonies.

The penalties for these offenses increase with the severity of the offense, ranging from fines of less than $100 to years in prison.

Traffic misdemeanors, felonies, and repeated traffic infractions can also result in your license being suspended or revoked under Virginia’s demerit point system.

Whether you have been charged with a minor traffic infraction or a serious traffic felony, a defense attorney can help. At Flusche & Fitzgerald, we focus on representing people charged with minor to significant traffic offenses.

Traffic Offenses and the Demerit Point System

Virginia uses a demerit point system alongside the criminal justice system to track how your traffic offenses affect your driving record. You can receive three, four, or six demerit points for each traffic offense.

Demerit points stay on your record for two years. If you earn enough points, the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles may suspend your license, require you to attend a traffic improvement program, or both.

Traffic Infractions

The lowest level of traffic offenses are traffic infractions, defined in the Virginia traffic violation codes. In Virginia, traffic infractions are not criminal offenses and are usually penalized through fines and demerit points.

Traffic infractions usually earn you three to four demerit points and include offenses like:

The Supreme Court of Virginia has a uniform schedule traffic fines. These are basically a suggestion and are not binding on judges. They vary based on the offense charged and usually include a processing fee of $51.

Traffic infractions can cost anywhere from $61 for failure to carry your license or registration to more than $200 for speeding in a residence district.

Traffic Misdemeanors

The next step up in severity, a traffic misdemeanor, is a criminal offense in the Commonwealth of Virginia. You may spend time in jail and owe a substantial fine if convicted.

Misdemeanors are split into four classes, with varying punishments:

  • Class 1—not more than 12 months in jail, a maximum $2,500 fine;
  • Class 2—not more than six months in jail, a maximum $1,000 fine;
  • Class 3—a maximum $500 fine; and
  • Class 4—a maximum $250 fine.

When jail time and a fine are authorized, the court can assess one, the other, or both.

Traffic misdemeanors include Virginia traffic offenses such as:

Many offenses include specific mandatory minimum fines and jail time. For example:

  • Driving under the influence (first offense)—$250 fine;
  • Driving under the influence (second offense within five years)—20 days in jail, $500 fine; and
  • Driving under the influence (second offense within five to ten years)—10 days in jail, $500 fine.

Depending on the offense, the government may suspend your license for one to three years and assess four or six demerit points.

Traffic Felonies

Of the three types of traffic offenses, the highest in severity are traffic felonies. In Virginia, felonies are divided into six classes with increasingly severe penalties:

  • Class 1—life in prison, up to a $100,000 fine;
  • Class 2—20 years to life in prison, up to a $100,000 fine;
  • Class 3—five to twenty years in prison, up to a $100,000 fine;
  • Class 4—two to ten years in prison, up to a $100,000 fine;
  • Class 5—one to ten years in prison or one year in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine; and
  • Class 6—one to five years in prison or one year in jail, and up to a $2,500 fine.

Traffic felonies include:

You may be charged with aggravated manslaughter after driving or boating under the influence if your conduct was particularly reckless.

Aggravated involuntary manslaughter is between a Class 5 and Class 4 felony, authorizing a prison term between one and twenty years.

Conviction of any traffic felony typically involves automatic suspension of your driver’s license, sometimes indefinitely. You also receive six demerit points on your driving record.

Contact a Traffic Defense Attorney

The potential impact of being charged with a traffic offense on your life varies wildly. Even seemingly minor traffic infractions can add up to a suspended license if you accumulate too many demerit points.

If you have been charged with a traffic offense, contact Flusche & Fitzgerald today. Our attorneys have combined experience on both sides of the courtroom, allowing us to offer unique insights into prosecutorial strategies.

We are passionate about fighting for the little guy and protecting our clients from unfair treatment in the criminal justice system.

Ryan Fitzgerald

I'm Ryan Fitzgerald; everyone calls me Fitz. I partnered with Andrew to form a focused defense team that is devoted to your needs. I have over 12 years of experience as a former prosecutor, so I know what the Commonwealth wants to see for negotiations and how to find the weak spots in their case. My experience ranges from reviewing all incoming DWIs to prepare other prosecutors for court, to training officers how to build their DWI cases, to successfully prosecuting a thirty-year cold case homicide. Your initial consultation with me is free; you'll talk directly with me about your case and how we can leverage my experience and connections to obtain the best possible result.

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