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Minor Traffic Offenses Can Cause Major Problems

Let’s assume you have received a traffic ticket. You are charged with speeding or running a stop sign, or some other so-called “minor” traffic violation, where no one has been hurt and the offense is not one that could result in jail (such as driving while under the influence, failing to stop after an accident, or fleeing a police officer). You think that maybe you were not going as fast as the police officer said, or you really did stop at the sign, but you check the ticket and see that you can avoid having to go to court by paying a fine. You pay the fine and think the matter is over and done. It may not be.

Before you simply admit guilt and pay the fine, it would be prudent to consider the Motor Vehicle Administration’s “point system” and the effect of an accumulation of points on the continuation of your driving privileges.

Each time someone admits guilt by paying a fine, or is found guilty after a District Court trial, depending upon the offense, the Administration assesses “points”. Running that stop sign could result in a point, as well as speeding less than 10 miles an hour over the limit. If an accident is involved, resulting from the violation, you will get three points. The most serious offenses can garner twelve (12) points, but those are violations for which you have no choice but to appear in court.

What is the effect of all this? The MVA is keeping score! You will get a warning letter if you accumulate more than three (3) points within two (2) years and you will be called in for a conference if you accumulate five (5) or more during that same period. Eight (8) points may result in the suspension of your license and twelve (12) can warrant a revocation of your license.

You have the right to an Administrative Hearing if the MVA takes action to suspend or revoke your license for an accumulation of points. If you can show that the suspension or revocation would adversely affect your employment, the Administrative Judge can decline to order the suspension or revocation, or modify it in some way, such as allowing you to have your license solely for the purpose of going to and from work. If you are required to drive a motor vehicle in the course of your regular employment, sixteen (16) points need to be accumulated before suspension on the basis of the point system (nineteen (19) for revocation).

A point is retained for a period of two years from the date of the violation. So, before you write that check and waive your right to a District Court trial, you may want to consider where you stand in terms of total points on your current record. Even if you know you are guilty of the offense, a good driving record (particularly over the course of a long period of time), coupled with an honest explanation of circumstances under which the offense was committed could result in the Court considering granting “Probation Before Judgment”, which if granted, would not result in the imposition of points.

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