How do I handle this (latest) speeding ticket?
March 27, 2007 10:45 AM   Subscribe

Got a speeding ticket that may cost me my license. But wait! Happened in State A, I live in State B, and my license is from State C, where I used to live. And there are small errors on the ticket. Is there hope?

I have a nasty habit of speeding, and I was caught doing so (again) this past Sunday, on I-66 in Fairfax County, VA. I currently live in Baltimore, MD, but still have a New Jersey driver's license, having moved from NJ to Baltimore a year ago. (Yes, I know I was supposed to have gotten a Maryland license by now; I have no real excuse except for sharing in the universal hatred for going to a DMV branch and feeling my life pass me by). Just to make things more fun, I was driving a Virginia-plated and registered car belonging to my parents. I think that covers all the various jurisdictions.

Now, I currently have ten (count 'em -- ten!) points on my NJ license, all but one for speeding (the other one was failure to follow a traffic device). It takes 12 to get your license suspended for 30 days, though NJ will give you the option of going to defensive driving school if you want to keep your license, and they'll also remove three points after you complete it. If I'm convicted of Sunday's offense in Virginia -- which my silent radar detector confirmed that the officer didn't have a radar reading for (oh, did I mention radar detectors are illegal in VA, but mine was right there in plain view, and yet he didn't even acknowledge it?), then NJ will assess me two points; they give two points for any out-of-state moving violation, regardless of what it is. That would take me to 12 and a "notice of scheduled suspension," meaning I either give up the license for 30 days or take the driving course. If I have to face that choice, I'll do the course . . .

BUT . . . what if I go get my Maryland license NOW? Now, I had assumed that Maryland would "import" my points from New Jersey, so I'd start off the bat with points on my MD license. But according to Maryland's MVA website, they'll just "record the information" about my convictions elsewhere but NOT assess points! (See the first FAQ on this page for detail. It almost seems too good to be true, but I could see how it might be, given that it's a pain in the ass for one state to have to deal with interpreting points and violation codes/terminologies for 49 other states and DC all the time. And apparently MD doesn't opt for the "just give 'em x number of points for any moving violation, regardless" approach that NJ does.

My trial date in Fairfax is May 15, 2007. I can just mail in payment or do it on the web, thereby admitting guilt and getting hammered with another two points by NJ; I can hire a lawyer and hope he/she can get this dismissed, thereby keeping me hanging on a thread but still with my license in NJ; or I can first go get my MD license (hopefully virginal and point-free), wait a few days for things to settle down, THEN pay my Fairfax ticket by mail/online, which will cause them to send the conviction info to NJ, but since NJ will (by then) no longer be my state of license, it will either disappear in a black hole or (if they feel like doing the extra work) be sent on to MD, which will, at worst, give me my first two points on an otherwise clean record.

A couple of quick notes that may qualify as technicalities on Sunday's ticket: First, the officer wrote down my NJ address, which is on my NJ license, EVEN THOUGH I told him I now live in Maryland. He still went back to his car, filled out the ticket, and wrote my NJ address, KNOWING it's not my current address.

Second, he put my race down as white, even though I'm (an admittedly light-skinned) Indian (of the south Asian variety). This was an eyeballed thing on his part, because "race" isn't on my license. But my name is very obviously Indian.

Could a good lawyer -- or maybe even me, in person -- get this dismissed on either of the two technicalities above? Or should I just say screw it and get the MD license? Or something else?

And yes, I know: "Slow the hell down, jackass!"
posted by CommonSense to Travel & Transportation (38 answers total) 3 users marked this as a favorite
The small errors won't help you. They'll just amend the record to fix those.

A decent lawyer should be able to fix your problems though. I never had your exact situation, but I had a very large pile of tickets (reckless, speeding, evading, etc.) turn into close to nothing.

The Maryland thing seems fraught with danger. I wouldn't do that without consulting a lawyer, unless I was willing to risk my license.
posted by Tacos Are Pretty Great at 10:56 AM on March 27, 2007

I would be surprised if you could get the ticket dismissed because the officer wrote down your address from the driver's licence rather than putting any old address you told him, or did you have proof that you no longer lived at the licence address? The ethnicity thing is a pretty minor thing as well, ethnicity is such a hodge podge of made up social rules that mistakes are bound to happen quite a lot, caucasian looking people with predominate African ancestors and much more muddy situations cause "mislabeling" all the time, I'd doubt the courts would do much about it.
jeeze, habitual speeding, failure to register in your home state, use of devices not legal (radar detector)... Perhaps, and I don't mean this in a horrible judgemental way, you should take that course weather it'll help you with you points or not.
posted by edgeways at 11:03 AM on March 27, 2007 [1 favorite]

Every state has different rules based on their laws. Maryland (IANYL, IANAML) maintains its points only for those tickets/convictions from the last two years only, for example, although they seem a lot more stringent on requiring classes after five points, suspending after eight, and revoking at twelve.*

If you have a Maryland license, other states' tickets/convictions would count, but as you point out, apparently most other states' point counts do not import for a new Maryland license.

You should have already gotten a Maryland license, so that's a good start. Go try to do that, and if you have to face consequences based on that you should own up to them. The cop was doing you a favor, by the way-- he (probably) could have also ticketed you for failure to get a Maryland license if you've lived there for some time, and reporting your license as still in New Jersey probably makes your life easier.

*I'm just rewriting what I'm reading in the Maryland Law Encyclopedia 'Automobiles' section 88.
posted by norm at 11:06 AM on March 27, 2007

I agree it seems unlikely that the small errors will help you, though IANAL.

I also am of the opinion that you should start driving more safely. Maybe you should go to defensive driving school either way. It will probably help you out anyway by bringing your insurance rates down, which I'm sure are sky high. Please consider going.

My guess would be that getting your new license right away might help, but I also think it'd be good to consult a lawyer. If it doesn't help, your judge will likely see it as an attempt to escape your ticket, which won't win you any favor.

One other hope. Is using a radar detector in VA a moving violation? Would it only get you one point? If so, you could contest the speeding ticket saying you have proof that there was no accurate measurement, and take the ticket for the detector instead. However, that defense might not even be valid if radar detectors aren't legal there. Also, if you were speeding by a whole lot, they might be able to charge you with reckless driving instead or something. Best to ask a lawyer on that one too.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:12 AM on March 27, 2007

Check with a lawyer, but I'd get a Maryland license, pay the speeding ticket, and slow the heck down! My favorite technique is to ride about 10 over the speed limit, and if someone passes doing 15 or 20 over, I use them as a screen for a while. Also keep your eyes peeled from brake lights ahead signaling a trap.
posted by joecacti at 11:21 AM on March 27, 2007

Response by poster: Clarifications:

The Sunday ticket wasn't technically for speeding, but for "failure to obey highway sign," mainly because he didn't actually have a radar reading on my speed. (It was a county cop, not state highway patrol.) It would therefore be best NOT to bring up the radar detector in court. I was driving within 10 mph of the speed limit, within the range that most cops checking for speeders will ignore. (If anyone should know, it's me.)

The officer had "proof" that I no longer lived at the address on the license, in that I told him beforehand that I live in Maryland when he asked "is this your current address?" but he didn't bother to ask me what my new address is. But yeah, this is too minor for dismissal, I figure.

Ticketing me for failure to get a MD license in time is a non-issue because (a) this is a Virginia cop, so it's not his law to enforce and (b) I lied and said I'd been living in MD for "about three weeks."

We can forget the "possible technicalities" -- I kinda figured they were ultra-long shots anyway. The question now, I guess, is "do I get a lawyer, or do I just go get the MD license -- which I'm supposed to do anyway?"

My insurance rates? Umm . . . no comment.

I know I should probably take the class, but FWIW, while I'm a speedy driver, I'm very safe. The one accident I've ever had was in 1994, when I was a new driver in a car I didn't normally drive -- I didn't properly estimate stopping distance/time on a slick highway offramp and tapped the back of the car in front of me. That's it. Nothing else, ever. I'm very attentive to the road, and my reaction time is solid. I don't do dumb shit like DUI, racing, or engage in asshole-ish behavior to enrage other drivers (though I guess speeding counts as such for some people).

Until/unless I'm found (or plead) guilty to the Fairfax ticket, a run of my driving record right now will not show that ticket, since there isn't even a court date until May. (But correct me if I'm wrong, anybody.) That would suggest to me that if I get my MD license between now and then, it won't show up on the record.

Having used the nickname "CommonSense" (or "ComSense") online, on IRC, etc. since 1995, I must say, I've never heard anyone ever say I don't have common sense. That's shockingly original, and I might add, incredibly germane to the discussion here.

(Yes, sarcasm.)
posted by CommonSense at 11:26 AM on March 27, 2007

Apologies for the potshot Ad Hominem but please don't kid yourself about your safety practices.
Feel free to nail me on my username.
posted by Dizzy at 11:35 AM on March 27, 2007

You won't hear judgment from me. We all have our shortcomings. Apparently some mefites felt like throwing stones today. Geesh, people.

Just nthing the lawyer up comments. You'd be surprised at what they can get thrown out or reduced. At this stage in the game, I think it's worth it.
posted by orangemiles at 11:38 AM on March 27, 2007

Mod note: a few comments removed, save the nyeah nyeah stuff for metatalk
posted by jessamyn (staff) at 11:45 AM on March 27, 2007

which my silent radar detector confirmed that the officer didn't have a radar reading for (oh, did I mention radar detectors are illegal in VA, but mine was right there in plain view, and yet he didn't even acknowledge it

Maybe he thought he was cutting you a break by just giving your already 10-point record a ticket rather than making real trouble for you? I got the same treatment after getting pulled over for doing 95 on an Interstate. The officer overlooked a lot of things that could have probably sent me to jail for the night. I was greatful to take the ticket, pay the $325 dollar fine and appearance costs and go to 12 hours of traffic school. I certainly didn't want to appear the ingrate by trying to have the ticket reviewed by a judge.
posted by mrmojoflying at 11:49 AM on March 27, 2007

Response by poster: OP again. Brief question: Is it at all possible to ask a lawyer a quick question or two without them stonewalling and requiring I pay before seeking input? (Namely, I'd be asking if the "get an MD license, start with a clean slate" thing is really true and/or "can you really get this dismissed, even in light of my record?")

After all, I'd be asking a question or two to determine whether I even need their services. That seems reasonable, no?
posted by CommonSense at 11:52 AM on March 27, 2007


You may want to get your new license now, in case/before they suspend your current one. My, totally incomplete, understanding of the situation is that if you have a suspended license from another state at the time you're applying for your new one it's an order of magnitude more difficult (some just won't give you one until the suspension period in the other state has passed). Definitely get free consultation with an attorney, at the very least.
posted by IronLizard at 11:56 AM on March 27, 2007

I assume the highway sign you failed to obey was the one that says "speed limit X"? And the cop eyeballed you as going 10 over? I don't think that will hold up in court if you play your cards right. Probably best to get a lawyer to be safe. Did the cop document anywhere on your ticket how fast he estimated you as going? That would obviously be to your advantage so he can't change his story. Also, are you sure you were only going 10 over? The safest thing is of course to get a lawyer. This is not only because of their knowledge of the ins and outs of the law, but also because they may be familiar with the judge, and know how best to approach them.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 11:57 AM on March 27, 2007

Something worth noting, VA and MD have an agreement about how they deal with speeding... Sometimes this ends up causing odd things to happen. I'm not sure what it means for your case specifically, but it's definitely something to ask your lawyer about.
posted by anaelith at 11:58 AM on March 27, 2007

Is it at all possible to ask a lawyer a quick question or two without them stonewalling and requiring I pay before seeking input?

Of course, this is what free consultations are all about. If they stonewall for, some odd reason, just go to another lawyer.
posted by IronLizard at 11:58 AM on March 27, 2007

First: exceeding the speed limit alone is safer than breaking most other traffic laws. By itself, it doesn't do much to increase the frequency of accidents, except at wildly excessive speeds. It does, however, make accidents you DO have a lot worse. Remember that you are piloting 2,000+ pounds of moving metal at high velocity, and if you make a mistake, the faster you're going, the more awful the consequences can be. Not just for you, but for someone else who had nothing whatsoever to do with your speed choices.

Speeding CAN be done safely, but please do remember that you are in a deadly weapon, and you are potentially inflicting your risk preferences on innocent people. You have the right to take any damn fool risk you want on your own, but roads are a shared resource, and it's entirely unfair to risk other people's lives and health so that you can get to your destination three minutes faster. If you're gonna speed, at least do it only in light traffic on controlled-access roads.

That said, from what I saw of how the license transfer worked when I changed states, your third option is probably the best; get the MD license now, while your NJ license is still in good standing, and then pay the ticket. You'll PROBABLY be okay, but I would still suggest checking with a lawyer first.
posted by Malor at 11:58 AM on March 27, 2007

You can certainly ask the lawyer at a free consultation "do you really think you can get this dismissed?" That's more of purpose of the initial free consultation. Of course if they say you're SOL, then you'll know that there's not much point to trying to get it dismissed on your own. I'd think they also would let you know if you really can just get a new license without charging you, but I'm not quite as certain on that one.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 12:03 PM on March 27, 2007

Don't assume that you were not clocked. Perhaps the officer was using laser or VASCAR, or maybe your detector just missed the radar. If the officer felt he was doing you a favor by giving you the ticket he did, fighting it might (low probability, but it happens) cause him to review his notes and issue tickets for the speeding and the radar detector. He could even call up a buddy in MD to check how long you've lived there without changing over your license.

A local attorney who specializes in such things will be able to tell you whether the ticket was a favor and, if so, advise you on the potential outcomes of fighting it.
posted by backupjesus at 12:09 PM on March 27, 2007

I nth the suggestion to see a lawyer. It won't cost you anything and they will be able to tell you what sort of plea bargain you might be able to get into. Most sane areas will allow you to pay (dearly) for getting such things off your record.

Oh and get yourself a true radar detector. I used to have a dashboard one and it never worked. I was driving with a friend who had a fancy foreign sports car and whenever it detected something the gauge area of the dashboard lit up in a cool red hue. He claims it very rarely gives false readouts and the sensors are built into the front and rear bumper, among other things. I believe it cost upwards of $1000, but given a speeding ticket and insurance, that is really nothing if it saves you but a few tickets. If your local Porsche dealership doesn't do it themselves, they will be able to guide you to the best one in town.
posted by geoff. at 12:13 PM on March 27, 2007

You haven't specifically mentioned the Driver Lisence Compact agreement between almost all states (including MD, VA, and NJ), so you might want to read up on it. I'm no expert, but it seems to indicate that all information will be shared among the states that you are involved in.

I frequently speed, so I can't pass judgment regarding your speeding. However, I imagine that, given your record, you will garner little sympathy in traffic court, even less so if you try to contest your ticket on some technicality.

So you might consider taking the opposite tack: show up in court, admit that you were speeding, be contrite, pay your fine, and humbly and politely ask the judge not to assess you two points because that would lead to a suspended license.
posted by googly at 12:18 PM on March 27, 2007

At one time Valentine One radar detectors were the standard radar detector for a Porsche. I don't know if that's still true but the V1 is a very good detector.

I can't provide any insight into fending off traffic violations, but as somebody who has had his license yanked and constantly speeds I will say that you shouldn't give them any other reasons to get upset. It's too late this time, but take care of all the stupid little things like registration, address changes, insurance so that the officer can't have a field day writing you up.

Basically, demonstrate some of what your handle indicates.
posted by substrate at 12:38 PM on March 27, 2007

Response by poster: Thanks, all. I think I'll do the free-consultation thing with a lawyer and see what comes of that, then decide what to do.

A couple of people mentioned the compact among nearly every state; I'm quite familiar with it, having moved a lot over the years. The MD MVA (aka DMV) website page I linked in the original post acknowledges that, but only to say it will get your driving history info from other states. It then specifically states that MD will NOT assess points for those pre-existing violations when giving you your new license. Which is a very merciful escape clause if true (to be confirmed with a lawyer). So this is not inconsistent with you raising the point that MD is a member of this compact; it just clarifies what MD chooses to do with the data it collects via that membership.

I didn't want to get into the moral question of Whether Speeding Is Right, and I expected some abuse about that when I posted this question. I've been mellowing with time, and Sunday's violation was actually remarkably tame and totally an eyeballed guesstimate on the officer's part. (Full detail at the end of this post*, if anyone's interested.)

Points well taken from edgeways, gauchodaspampas, Asherah, mrmojoflying, and Maior. Thanks to everyone for advice, suggestions, ideas. Geoff: I'm assuming you're being at least partly tongue-in-cheek, but I think I'll go with the much cheaper option of letting my "mellowing with age" approach to driving continue its course. Plus, that kind of rig seems a bit much for a Honda Accord. ;-)

* [For anyone curious, here's how Sunday happened. Driving about 63-64 in a 55 on I-66 eastbound, an interstate highway. Every couple of minutes, someone passes me, so I'm not the fastest person on the road. I notice that a few cars in front of me have begun to just slightly slow down, and soon see it's because they have a cop in front of them. I follow suit, noticing I only have to go about 1-2 mph slower to remain behind him anyway. We're all a little behind, and after about two minutes he exits. It's one of those long exit ramps that stays parallel with the highway for a while, but there's a divider separating it. The ramp probably rejoins the highway again, but I wasn't able/curious enough to look back and see if it did. When the guy exited, I watched for a bit, then slowly picked my speed up. NOT a huge jerk forward -- since I didn't have to slow down much in the first place -- but just enough to see that I'd picked up about 5-6 mph in speed. About 30-40 seconds later, lights flashing behind me. When I'm pulled over, the officer says he pulled me over because he noticed how I "sped forward" when he exited. He didn't say I was speeding (in the legal sense), that he clocked me at any speed, etc.; he simply described a change in speed. I have sped more dramatically in the past, but Sunday night wasn't one of those times -- I can honestly say I was in the 60-65 range in a 55 mph zone, and he was probably more annoyed by the visible increase in speed. That being said, I'm not trying to play the "damn pig screwed me over!" card at ALL -- if I was, I wouldn't have relegated this explanation to a footnote, several posts later. Just providing it for trivia in case anyone is interested in the details.]
posted by CommonSense at 12:41 PM on March 27, 2007

In VA, they use all kinds of things that RADAR detectors won't pick up (so I've been told). Including spotting from planes and then calling in cops on the ground to pull you over. It's possible that you got busted by one of these methods. I think you are pretty much screwed on this one, since all these states probably have reciprocity or at the very least some portion of your NJ points will carry over to a MD record. Just a word of advice, DON'T SPEED IN VA! The state police are getting lots of grief about the number of traffic fatalities of the past few years and as a result, they have been systematically cracking down on speeding and reckless driving.
posted by Phoenix42 at 12:48 PM on March 27, 2007

I'd have to agree that your best bet is to a) see if you can in fact get off the hook by getting your new license or if not then b) being polite with the judge, admit your wrongdoing, promise you won't do it again, maybe point out that evidence against you is weak, and ask therefore if there's any way to avoid having your license suspended.

However, being the argumentative type, if I were in your shoes and were to decide to try to get the ticket dismissed, here's what I'd say: The officer was quite far away from you when he noticed the change in speed. It is reasonably possible that everyone else slowed down slightly for some reason, perhaps to avoid an object, and the officer failed to notice their break lights, and instead though that you had sped up.

Also, there's always the off chance that the officer does not show up to your court date, in which case in most states you're free.

Another potential issue you really should look into: Where will you have to go to traffic school? Will you be able to do it in Maryland, or can you only go to one in Virginia? Is it possible that the judge won't even let you take the option of traffic school for fear that you'll just skip out and not return to Virginia? What I would do is register for a traffic school recognized by Maryland, and bring your registration to court so that hopefully does not happen. If it turns out that you can keep your license somehow without going to traffic school, then you can cancel your registration, and hopefully get any deposit back.
posted by gauchodaspampas at 1:01 PM on March 27, 2007

First, they use VASCAR in N.VA. I don't know about on I-66, but it's used elsewhere, usually in places around airports where they can't use normal radar.

Plus, even without the radar, the police officer's testimony alone may be sufficient to convince a judge that you were speeding. I mean, between you, with an established speeding habit, saying "hey, I wasn't speeding!" and Officer Jones, saying "your honor, I have x years of experience in judging the speed of moving vehicles, and I saw his car doing at least 30 over," who do you think the judge is going to believe? Don't bother playing that card.

Now, there are a few approaches you could take. Monkeying around with the licenses is one route, but I think that VA/MD/NJ may not be quite as dumb in terms of sharing information as you think. It's worth a try, but it may be some sort of crime to attempt to get a license in another state, when you have reason to believe that your license is going to be suspended. I'd contact a lawyer first.

The other option, is to try and go to court, and see if you can just throw yourself on the mercy of the DA and see if the ticket will get reduced to something that won't cost you your license. I've had a few tickets either thrown out completely, or reduced to non-moving violations, that way -- although you may have a tougher time if the DA has your history available to peruse. And, if you ask to go to trial and the police officer doesn't show up, then you get the ticket thrown out automatically (however, it's a gamble; if the police officer does show up, you get the book thrown at you).

IANAL, but I've hired them, and last time I had a ticket, the going rate was about $300, prepaid, for the whole thing. (Probably more in NoVA, though.) It can help to get someone who knows the local traffic court and the personalities involved, because they might be able to give you hints as to whether you can expect concessions from the DA, or expect the officers to show up.
posted by Kadin2048 at 1:32 PM on March 27, 2007

A couple of points to add: I was in a very similar situation twenty years ago (ticket in state A, moving to state B, license in state C) and got a new license in state B without any problems; it took about 6 months for all the information to go through the system at which time my state c license was suspended; I pretty much ignored it as I had a valid license from state B. However, I eventually returned to state C and had to jump through a bunch of hoops to get things straightened out, so if you take that course of action, you may just be delaying trouble rather than avoiding it. Here in GA if you take a defensive driving course it will automatically take points off your license; there is some information about that in this FAQ; NJ might have something similar but it is unclear if you can take the course to avoid a suspension as you can here or if you have to wait until you are suspended.
posted by TedW at 1:50 PM on March 27, 2007

On rereading the question I see you already know about the course (I forgot about that by the time I finished the thread); I have done both and the course was much less hassle in the long run; the license thing worked twenty years ago but might not today.
posted by TedW at 1:55 PM on March 27, 2007

"...while I'm a speedy driver, I'm very safe." - I am pretty sure that everyone that drives fast believes that about themselves. Plus "failure to follow a traffic device" sounds like you ran a red light maybe. Hm.

If you can take the driving course to opt out of the points and having it reported, do that.

I would suggest you also read Mind Hacks. While you are stern in your belief that you are a safe fast driver, that's irrelevant to how your brain perceives the reality in which you operate. You are just as susceptible as anyone else to making not just errors in judgment but to your brain's own weak spots. Our brains can do some cool stuff, but they really aren't as fast and accurate as people think. In a lot of cases this doesn't matter, but while driving several hundred pounds of metal, plastic and glass around at high speed with thousands upon thousands of other people doing the same thing, well, it matters a lot.

Good luck on keeping the license. (But, you know, use the threat of losing it to tighten up your own ideas about what constitutes being a safe driver.)
posted by smallerdemon at 2:15 PM on March 27, 2007

In addition to the things you admitted you were guilty of, you were driving without a valid driver's license. You have to get a new one within 30 days of moving. If this is discovered, not only will you be guilty of it, but you'll probably lose the ability to get car insurance. So I certainly wouldn't try to get out of the ticket on this grounds - you'll be incriminating yourself.

Frankly I think your best bet is going now to get your MD license and hoping like hell that NJ won't contact Maryland when NJ discovers you have enough points to suspend your (cancelled) NJ license. Reciprocity doesn't work very well and there's a chance it may slip through the cracks, although it's probably not a very good chance.

However, honestly, that is not my advice to you. My advice to you is to clean up your act, straighten up and drive right. I don't want to share the road with the idiot driver you described, and neither does anyone else.
posted by ikkyu2 at 3:37 PM on March 27, 2007

Dude...did you get pulled over just past Nutley Street?

Personal experience - I had points > 2 years old on a PA driver's license that did NOT transfer over when I got my MD license. Those points that PA recorded were > 2 years old on a WV license when I moved to PA. FWIW.
posted by ersatzkat at 4:46 PM on March 27, 2007

Response by poster: ersatz: No, just before Nutley, heading east. Or I guess that would be "just past" if you're heading west. It was just east of the exit for 123.

Thanks for sharing the personal experience -- definitely helps. So this suggests that PA brings the points over, while MD does not (confirming what their website says). Of course, yours are over two years old, while mine aren't. Still, the MD website doesn't say anything about age of points, just that they won't carry them over (short of egregious stuff like reckless driving, DUI, leaving the scene of an accident, etc., none of which I have).
posted by CommonSense at 5:40 PM on March 27, 2007

CommonSense, that would have been my first guess for where you would have been pulled over. My second would have been by an officer (State Trooper) sitting in the median at 7100 and 66W.

A couple of things: I got a bunch of tix in VA and NJ in college thanks to regularly driving back and forth up and down the Turnpike. I was also ticketed in Maryland once and all those points transferred on to my DC and then VA license.

Second of all, if you were doing over 80 (I believe) in Virginia, it's automatic reckless driving and you have to have a court date. I suggest an attorney. With your background, it's probably a good idea anyhow.

I drove very slowly and carefully until the 7 or so points dropped off my license. If you can get through the court date, I suggest making close friends with your cruise control.
posted by wildeepdotorg at 6:07 PM on March 27, 2007

WTF happened to this place tonight?

I am assuming that most of the people saying that you shouldn't speed don't live in this area.

I know nothing about the multiple state license question, but I can tell you that tickets in Fairfax County can be beaten quite easily. I've done it without a lawyer a number of times, but I understand the lawyers are quite cheap. Most people just pay and never think about going to court. A lot of the people that do go to court bury themselves by acting like idiots.

Start by writing everything down, and call the courthouse to change your court date. If you want to go the lawyer route, have the lawyer change the court date. You get one freebie on the date change. Use it to your advantage.

If you decide to skip the lawyer, just remember to be very respectful, dress nice, be calm, and don't forget you can call the cop to the stand.
posted by bh at 6:58 PM on March 27, 2007

I've favourited this so I can point to it as to why speeding it counterproductive.

That said, it looks like your best option is to take the points hit on your current license, do the driving course then get a new license, which may well get reset back to zero.

If you try to get the new license now, the fact that your current one has just hit 12 points may leave you without a license or any cheesy way to get it back.

And, seriously, dude, stop speeding. Many speed limits aren't about the skill of the driver, they're about the quality of the road, visability, usage, nearby populations and widelife, etc, etc, etc. (There's an infamous bit of road in a large park near me that tries to throw cars off it even if the're doing 5 under the posted limit.) Moreover, if you don't understand this, you probably aren't a good driver.
posted by krisjohn at 8:07 PM on March 27, 2007

Response by poster: bh: Wow, you're going to get buried by the others for having the audacity to, like, try and be my friend. :-) But thanks. I'll talk to a lawyer tomorrow, and run your suggestions by him. What do you say in response to what others said -- namely, given my driving record, I'm really pushing my luck by appearing in court, calling the cop to the stand, etc., and I should just cut my losses and hope for a lawyer to represent me and get this thrown out?

Bear in mind, after all, that this isn't even technically a speeding ticket. The charge is "failure to observe highway sign." If I had a clean record (which I might if I hurry and get my MD license), I'd laugh and just pay the damn ticket without even giving a thought to showing up in court.

But I've shown up to court in the past, and I know how it works: Just for taking the time to show up and stand in the horribly long line, the DA will meet with you before you even see a judge, and (in most cases) knock your charge down to the next-lower penalty. (At least that's the unspoken understanding in New Jersey.) For "failure to follow highway sign," I would imagine the next lower penalty is no penalty at all. Can you confirm? Is it worth my showing up w/o lawyer?
posted by CommonSense at 8:15 PM on March 27, 2007

How do I handle this (latest) speeding ticket?

Take the course. And pay attention in it.
posted by pracowity at 6:18 AM on March 28, 2007

You may want to get your new license now, in case/before they suspend your current one. My, totally incomplete, understanding of the situation is that if you have a suspended license from another state at the time you're applying for your new one it's an order of magnitude more difficult (some just won't give you one until the suspension period in the other state has passed). Definitely get free consultation with an attorney, at the very least.

Absolutely. Actually it's not "harder" its "impossible".

But if you get your new license now, and then get your old one suspended you may not get your new one suspended in your new state. Even better, you may get your 'points' replenished.

it's a big if but I know for sure it's possible. A friend of mine knew his iowa license would be suspeded, got a license in PA, and was able to drive on that. (He even got pulled over again in IA and just got the ticket with his PA license) He was kind of a dumbass.
posted by delmoi at 9:19 AM on March 28, 2007

Sorry, late post, but I was thinking and it suddenly came to me. IF you were in the far right lane, then it's possible you got a ticket for being in the time control lanes when you weren't supposed to. Basically, the far right lane (actually right shoulder, but looks like a lane) in that area of 66 is only used during rush hour, other times of day it is exit only. If so, you really weren't following a traffic sign and would need to argue that you weren't aware of the restriction (i.e. did not see the damn big sign).
posted by anaelith at 10:06 AM on March 29, 2007

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