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Handling a juvenile traffic charge

On Behalf of | Apr 22, 2024 | Criminal Defense

Many Virginia teenagers look forward to getting their driver’s license and their first car, loving the freedom that comes along with it. However, the inexperience of youthful drivers sometimes leads to traffic citations.

This could lead to your child’s first interaction with the Virginia court system and it is important to know what to expect.

Some of the most common juvenile traffic charges

Common traffic offenses among juvenile drivers include texting while driving, distracted driving and speeding. Inexperience also leads to less serious offenses such as failing to use a turn signal, obey a traffic sign or keep the vehicle under control.

Whatever the reason, handling a juvenile traffic charge may be more complicated than you believe. Although Virginia law does not require court appearances for certain traffic offenses, some do.

Generally, minor traffic infractions involve paying a fee. However, paying the fee is the same as admitting guilt to the charge. Additionally, paying the fee does not mean your child will escape other penalties.

They may still receive demerit points assessed on their license, which could eventually lead to the loss of the driver’s license if enough demerit points accrue.

Provisional licenses and their restrictions

If the traffic violation is serious, your child may be required to appear in Juvenile and Domestic Relations court.

The penalties for a juvenile who must appear in court for a traffic violation could be more serious than those for adults. The reason is that Virginia juveniles initially receive a provisional driver’s license.

A provisional driver’s license has restrictions on it that usually last until the juvenile turns 18. Violating any of the restrictions on a provisional license can lead to additional punishments.

Some examples of restrictions include a juvenile not being permitted to drive between the hours of midnight and 4 a.m. or using any sort of cell phone or wireless communication device, whether handheld or hands-free.

Another typical restriction prohibits a juvenile from driving with someone under the age of 21 in the vehicle unless a parent or guardian is present. Sometimes exceptions are made for these restrictions.

Penalties for violating provisional license restrictions vary depending on the situation. Factors such as previous citations are considered and penalties may include a driver’s license suspension for up to 6 months or attending a mandatory driver improvement program.

Preparing for and attending court

If your child is required to appear in court due to a traffic charge, be sure to verify the date and time. It should be written on the traffic ticket, but you may receive something in the mail as well.

Confirm the date and time and do not ignore the traffic ticket or skip the court date. This will likely lead to additional trouble.

Attend court with your child. If you are uncertain of what to expect at court, it can help to receive professional advice and support, especially considering the differences between Virginia’s adult and juvenile systems.