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Roanoke Virginia Criminal Defense Law Blog

What are the three types of speed limits?

Speed limits may seem fairly straightforward: if you get caught driving over the posted limit, you receive a ticket. Indeed, this is the way that speed limit enforcement in Virginia usually works. According to FindLaw, the term for this type of speed limit is an absolute speed limit. However, it is only one of three different types of speed limits enforced within the United States. 

Another type is a basic speed limit. The theory behind basic speed law is that a velocity that is unsafe under certain hazardous conditions is a violation even if it is below the posted speed limits. For example, a law enforcement officer may deem that your speed is too fast for the current conditions and ticket you if the roads are slippery due to weather conditions of rain, snow or ice.

What does "nolle prosequi" mean?

The issue of expungement of a criminal record often creates a great deal of confusion amongst people in Roanoke. The common thought may be that expungement is the eliminating of a record of your criminal conviction, yet Virginia's laws only allow that privilege in a few select cases. Rather, expungement is typically available in those cases where criminal charges were not fully pursued. Indeed, Section 19.2-392.2 of the Code of Virginia lists cases where "nolle prosequi" is invoked as being among the scenarios where expungement is possible. 

What does "nolle prosequi" mean? It is a Latin term that means "will no longer prosecute." It essentially equates to a prosecuting attorney choosing to no longer pursue a criminal case against you. The more common reasons to dismiss a case against you include: 

  • The emergence of new evidence in your case
  • A re-evaluation of the current evidence against you
  • A failure on the part of the prosecution to produce witnesses to testify against you

Criminal charges and drug addiction sometimes intersect

People who are addicted to drugs face a very difficult life. The pull to the drugs impacts every aspect of their functioning so they are unable to truly focus on anything else. There are some instances in which the person's drug of choice has such as huge impact on their brain that all they can think about is getting their next fix.

When you think about the severity of drug addiction, you might wonder exactly how far these individuals will go to get the drug they need. For some, the answer is that they will do anything that they have to do to get it. This might even include turning to criminal activity to get those drugs. This puts the criminal court system right at the intersection of drug addiction and criminal activity.

How much can a Virginia DWI/DUI raise your auto insurance rates?

When a Virginia law enforcement officer charges you with driving while intoxicated or driving under the influence and a judge or jury later convicts you of the offense, your life will undoubtedly change in a number of challenging ways. In addition to losing your license for a set amount of time, which can make it much harder for you to find or hold on to a job, a DWI or DUI can set you back financially in a number of significant ways.

In addition to having to pay substantial fines relating to your DUI or DWI conviction, Insure.com states that you will almost certainly see a sharp increase in your automotive insurance costs after a drunk driving conviction, regardless of where you live. While Americans with drunk driving convictions may see their annual insurance rates climb anywhere from 28 to 371 percent, Virginia’s motorists who have drunk driving convictions can expect to see their rates rise about 62 percent.

What constitutes a hit and run?

Generally speaking, leaving the scene of an accident is a very serious offense in Virginia, as well as throughout the United States. However, the laws that govern hit and run accidents vary depending on the circumstances under which the accident took place. 

For example, FindLaw explains that it is not required for you to call the police or remain at the scene if you collide with a stationary object, which may include trees, mailboxes or parked cars. However, the law does require that you make a reasonable effort to alert the property owner as to what has happened. One way to accomplish this is by leaving a note with your identifying information at the scene of the accident for the property owner to find. Failure to leave a note or make any other effort to inform the property owner may constitute a hit and run. 

Why it does not pay to blow off your traffic court date

At Robert F. Rider, PLC, in Virginia, we realize that you can sometimes miss a court date through no fault of your own. We also realize, however, that when a lot of people get a traffic ticket, they fail to take it as seriously as they should. They seem to think that if they treat it with benign neglect, eventually it will simply disappear.

Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact, per the Fairfax County District Court, if you fail to show up at your scheduled traffic court hearing, the judge can choose one of two things to do: (s)he can go ahead with your trial even though you are not there or (s)he can issue a bench warrant.

Knowing the typically physical signs of intoxication

Many in Roanoke come to members of our team here at Robert F. Rider, PLC after having been arrested for DUI convinced that they must resign themselves to the certainty of conviction. Their thinking typically is that if law enforcement officials say they have evidence to show that they were intoxicated, then there is no disputing that. If you find yourself in the same position, you will be happy to hear that a DUI charge is not insurmountable. Even when authorities claim to have chemical test results proving your guilt, those results can often be questioned. When they are, you might be surprised to see how much of DUI charge is simply based on an officer's observations. 

Say that the roadside breath test that you took measured above .08, yet the more thorough blood, breath or urine test you look later was below the legal limit. Law enforcement officials might simply claim that your body metabolized the alcohol, and that your actions still imply that you are drunk. Yet simply saying that you are acting like you are intoxicated does not mean that you are. Even though everyone reacts to alcohol intoxication differently, the chemical influence alcohol has on the body will manifest itself in similar ways. 

Virginia wrestles with gun control legislation

Regardless of the personal beliefs of any resident in Virginia, it is likely safe to say that the issue of gun control is one that generates a lot of strong opinions these days. In this state and around the nation, leaders are struggling to find a way to balance the maintenance and protection of the rights handed down by the Second Amendment to the U.S. Constitution with the protection and safety of human lives. 

The Washington Post recently reported that a series of bills have been introduced into the Virginia legislation that focused on gun control measures. Some of the proposals put forth included one that received support from the federal government administration and other states. Designed to prevent or reduce suicides, the bill sought to give judges the ability to remove a person's guns if it could be demonstrated that they were a risk to themselves. The bill failed in Virginia.

What to do if you are pulled over for speeding

Even though you know speeding is against the law, there are times when you push the limit. While you may get away with this most the time, it's not out of the question that an officer could see you driving too fast.

If you look in your rearview mirror and see lights, it's time to immediately consider the steps you can take to avoid a speeding ticket. There's no surefire strategy for success, but here are five things you can try:

  • Don't admit to anything: You're tempted to apologize for driving too fast, but this is a mistake you should avoid. Don't give the officer anything they can use against you in court. Instead, if the officer asks why you were speeding, you can respond with something like "I was keeping up with the flow of traffic."
  • Be courteous: You don't have to overdo it, but a friendly approach is much better than coming across as angry and arrogant. When you treat the officer like a human there's a greater chance they'll do the same in return.
  • Show that safety is on your mind: There are many ways to do this, such as by using your hazard lights and pulling as far off the road as possible (thus giving the officer space to reach your vehicle).
  • Ask them to give you a warning: This is easier said than done, but it may be something you want to try. Politely ask for a warning, but never admit that you did anything wrong.
  • Don't talk back: Some people are tempted to say things like, "Do you know who I am?" or "Don't you have real criminals to chase after today?" Even if you're having a bad day, talking back is a mistake. If you do this, you can guarantee yourself of receiving a speeding ticket, if not worse.

Fatal DUI crash results in fines and prison

Drunk driving penalties in Virginia can be serious but when an alleged DUI results in a person's death, the consequences can be even more severe. A 30-year-old Maryland man is finding that out firsthand after pleading guilty in regard to a car crash in May 2017 that resulted in the death of a friend, a 36-year-old man from Shepherdstown, West Virginia. 

Reportedly, the car the driver was operating belonged to his passenger. It is unclear why the passenger allowed his friend to drive the vehicle, especially as the passenger's blood alcohol level was only 0.02, while the driver's BAC was allegedly 0.17, more than twice the legal limit in West Virginia. The driver claims that his passenger's pleas to pull over and let him drive are the last things he remembers before the crash. According to the prosecuting attorney, phone records demonstrate that the passenger sent text messages to his wife over a span of nearly half an hour documenting the speeds at which the vehicle was traveling and expressing fear that he was going to die.

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