You are driving down the road in Richmond and the next thing you see is flashing lights in your rear view mirror.
Great! What joy?
At best, you are going to get a speeding ticket or some other form of traffic violation.
Worst case scenario, you are going to be charged with a crime that masquerades as a traffic ticket.
You may be asking, what kind of crime could you be charged with for just driving down the road?
Richmond Traffic Court Tickets Lawyer VA Hanover Henrico
Here are the possible criminal charges you could be facing:
- Reckless Driving
- Driving On Suspended License
- Aggressive Driving
So what is the big deal with any of the above traffic tickets? After all they are just traffic tickets right?
Wrong. The above tickets are misdemeanors.
What is a misdemeanor ticket? A misdemeanor ticket may land you in jail and cause you to lose your license.
So you now have two options if you have received a misdemeanor ticket or speeding ticket.
You can go to court without a lawyer and hope for the best or you contact the SRIS Law Group lawyers for help.
We defend clients charged with traffic Tckts in Richmond.
We have a client meeting Location in Richmond, Virginia. You can reach by phone at 703-278-0405 or contact us online.
Our attorneys defend Virginia uniform summons speeding Tckts, reckless driving Tckts, driving on suspended license and aggressive driving Tckts in the following jurisdictions:
Caroline, Hanover, Herico, Chesterfield, Dinwiddie, Prince George, Sussex, Greensville, New Kent, King William, Charles City, James City, Surry, York & Emporia.
The following are some of the questions our clients ask us when they get a Tckt in Richmond:
- Do I have to go to the Richmond traffic court if I got a traffic Tckt in Richmond?
- If I get too many Richmond Tckts, will it affect my driving record in Virginia?
- How do I find a Richmond lawyer?
- How much does it cost for me to get a lawyer to fight my Richmond v Tckts?
The following are some of the traffic laws in Richmond Virginia:
Virginia Code § 46.2-870. Maximum speed limits generally.
Except as otherwise provided in this article, the maximum speed limit shall be 55 miles per hour on interstate highways or other limited access highways with divided roadways, nonlimited access highways having four or more lanes, and all state primary highways.
The maximum speed limit on all other highways shall be 55 miles per hour if the vehicle is a passenger motor vehicle, bus, pickup or panel truck, or a motorcycle, but 45 miles per hour on such highways if the vehicle is a truck, tractor truck, or combination of vehicles designed to transport property, or is a motor vehicle being used to tow a vehicle designed for self-propulsion, or a house trailer.
Notwithstanding the foregoing provisions of this section, the maximum speed limit shall be 70 miles per hour where indicated by lawfully placed signs, erected subsequent to a traffic engineering study and analysis of available and appropriate accident and law-enforcement data, on: (i) interstate highways, (ii) multilane, divided, limited access highways, and (iii) high-occupancy vehicle lanes if such lanes are physically separated from regular travel lanes. The maximum speed limit shall be 60 miles per hour where indicated by lawfully placed signs, erected subsequent to a traffic engineering study and analysis of available and appropriate accident and law-enforcement data, on U.S. Route 29, U.S. Route 58, U.S. Route 360, U.S. Route 460, and on U.S. Route 17 between the town of Port Royal and Saluda where they are nonlimited access, multilane, divided highways.
Virginia Code § 46.2-862. Exceeding speed limit.
A person shall be guilty of reckless driving who drives a motor vehicle on the highways in the Commonwealth (i) at a speed of twenty miles per hour or more in excess of the applicable maximum speed limit or (ii) in excess of eighty miles per hour regardless of the applicable maximum speed limit.
Rich. Trfc Virginia
The following is a case that is illustrative of a DUI case in Virginia:
Having observed defendant William R. Morris drive on a public highway in Orange County on January 10, 1988, a Virginia state trooper stopped him and charged him with reckless driving, driving under the influence of alcohol (DUI), having improper registration, and driving while his license was revoked or suspended (driving revoked).
In District Court defendant was convicted of improper registration, DUI and driving revoked. The conviction for improper registration has become final, and the DUI and driving revoked convictions have been appealed.
Defendant moves to dismiss the DUI and driving revoked charges because he says Virginia Code § 19.2-294 bars further prosecution of these charges.
The statute, as here pertinent, provides:
If the same act be a violation of two or more statutes… conviction under one of such statutes… shall be a bar to a prosecution… under the other….
Morris argues that the same act of driving gave rise to the charges of improper registration, DUI and driving revoked; that since he has been convicted of improper registration (§ 46.1-64), he cannot now be convicted of DUI (§ 18.2-266) or driving revoked (§ 46.1-350).
He relies on Padgett v. Commonwealth, 220 v. 758, 263 S.E.2d 388 (1980), and cites an unpublished decision of the Circuit Court of Louisa County in 1987 (Commonwealth v. Purdy) which supports his position.
In Padgett, the issue was whether, despite Section 19.2-294.1, a defendant could be convicted in one jurisdiction of reckless driving and in another jurisdiction of DUI arising from a continuous course of driving.
Virginia Code § 19.2-294.1, enacted by the 1960 Acts, c. 493, p. 767 (then § 19.1-259.1), provides as here pertinent:
Whenever any person is charged with a violation of v Code § 18.2-266 the drunk driving statute… and reckless driving growing out of the same act or acts and is convicted of one of these charges, the court shall dismiss the remaining charge.
The adoption of § 19.2-294.1 legislatively changed the rule–for DUI and reckless driving cases–of Hundley v. Commonwealth, 193 v. 449, 69 S.E.2d 336 (1952), in which a defendant was charged with and convicted of DUI and reckless driving arising out of a single driving occurrence in Franklin County.
The court in Hundley said:
These facts the court having summarized the evidence of driving conduct disclose more than one act. They show two separate acts resulting in the commission of two offenses, and in such instance the statute then § 19-232, now Section 19.2-294 does not apply. It is conceivable for a person under the influence of intoxicants to drive properly. Many people not under the influence of intoxicants drive recklessly. A test of the identity of acts or offenses is whether the same evidence is required to sustain them; if not, then the fact that several charges relate to and grow out of one transaction or occurrence does not make a single act or offense where two separate acts or offenses are defined by statute, as in the instant case. (citations omitted). 193 v. at 451.
The essence of Padgett is stated in the per curiam opinion as follows:
We do not believe that the difference in venue involved in this case alters the singular nature of the act or acts out of which the charges against the defendant arose. We interpret the language, “the same act or acts,” to mean “the same act or acts” of driving and to contemplate a continuous, uninterrupted course of operation of a motor vehicle, without regard to the crossing of the boundary line between two localities.
The General Assembly changed the rule of Hundley not by amending now § 19.2-294 but by adding now Section 19.2-294.1 and limiting it to DUI and reckless driving cases.
Padgett makes no reference to § 19.2-294 or Hundley.
Having reviewed the case authority including the published Circuit Court cases cited by the Commonwealth’s Attorney and with due respect to my colleague presiding over the Circuit Court of Louisa County, I am constrained to conclude that Padgett must be limited to its facts: a single driving occurrence resulting in DUI and reckless driving prosecutions in different jurisdictions.
In the parts here pertinent § 19.2-294 has not been amended since 1952 when Hundley was decided. Section 19.2-294.1 is, by its terms, narrow in scope. The court does not find that the General Assembly intends for a single driving incident to give rise to only a single conviction, regardless of how many statutes are violated, unless the statutes violated are those proscribing DUI and reckless driving.
The motion to dismiss the DUI and driving revoked charges against Morris will be overruled.
“Where the sufficiency of the evidence is challenged after conviction, it is our duty to consider it in the light most favorable to the Commonwealth and give it all reasonable inferences fairly deducible therefrom.” Higginbotham v. Commonwealth, 216 v. 349, 352, 218 S.E.2d 534, 537 (1975). We must “examine the evidence that tends to support the conviction and to permit the conviction to stand unless it is plainly wrong or without evidentiary support.” Commonwealth v. Jenkins, 255 v. 516, 520, 499 S.E.2d 263, 265 (1998) (citing Code § 8.01-680).
So viewed, the evidence proved that in the early morning hours of October 29, 2006, Corporal Arthur Tate of the Arlington County Police Department found appellant, unconscious, reclined in the driver’s seat of a car with its engine running in a school parking lot. Appellant was its only occupant. After several attempts to get appellant’s attention by knocking on the driver’s door window, Tate opened the unlocked driver’s door and woke him.
Corporal Tate determined that appellant had slurred speech, was unsteady on his feet, and had bloodshot eyes. He asked appellant if he would take field sobriety tests, and appellant agreed to do so. However, appellant laughed at Corporal Tate when he demonstrated the one-legged stand test, and refused to attempt it, stating he thought Tate wanted to make fun of him. Appellant also refused to attempt the heel-to-toe test and the alphabet test. Although he previously told Tate he had a degree in electrical engineering, appellant told Tate he had no education and therefore could not perform the alphabet test.
Appellant spoke in a soft voice but was belligerent, and repeatedly threatened Corporal Tate, stating he “prayed that Tate’s wife and kids would die within three days . . . . ” After talking with appellant for approximately 15 minutes, Corporal Tate arrested him for DUI.
At trial, appellant testified he was sleeping in his car because he was in the process of divorcing his wife and that he was homeless. He denied being intoxicated.
After the trial court denied appellant’s motion to strike the Commonwealth’s evidence, the jury found appellant guilty of DUI. During the sentencing phase, the Commonwealth sought to introduce appellant’s DMV record, pursuant to Code § 46.2-943, for consideration by the jury in fixing his sentence. Appellant objected, contending the Commonwealth failed to provide him with notice pursuant to Code § 19.2-295.1 of its intent to introduce his driving record at sentencing. 1
Appellant also objected to the trial court permitting the jury to consider his DMV record, arguing it was “unreliable and much more unreliable than an actual record of conviction. That’s . . . why there is a surprise and it is prejudicial to the defendant without being able to investigate by looking at the actual record of conviction to see what occurred in court.” Appellant’s counsel told the trial court that prior to trial she “got her own copy of appellant’s DMV record and it was different from the one” offered by the Commonwealth. The only DMV record contained in the record on appeal is the DMV record offered by the Commonwealth.
The trial court overruled appellant’s objections and admitted his DMV record, concluding it was admissible under Code § 46.2-943 and that statute did not contain a notice requirement. It also refused to grant appellant’s proffered jury instruction defining “operating” a motor vehicle. The jury fixed appellant’s sentence at an $ 800 fine.
- Jury Instruction
On appeal, appellant first contends the trial court erred in not granting his proffered jury instruction defining “operating a motor vehicle.”
“The trial judge has broad discretion in giving or denying instructions requested.” Gaines v. Commonwealth, 39 v. App. 562, 568, 574 S.E.2d 775, 778 (2003) (en banc). “A reviewing court’s responsibility in reviewing jury instructions is ‘to see that the law has been clearly stated and that the instructions cover all issues which the evidence fairly raises.'” Darnell v. Commonwealth, 6 v. App. 485, 488, 370 S.E.2d 717, 719, 5 v. Law Rep. 11 (1988) (quoting Swisher v. Swisher, 223 v. 499, 503, 290 S.E.2d 856, 858 (1982)). “‘When granted instructions fully and fairly cover a principle of law, a trial court does not abuse its discretion in refusing another instruction relating to the same legal principle.'” Gaines, 39 v. App. at 568, 574 S.E.2d at 778 (quoting Stockton v. Commonwealth, 227 v. 124, 145, 314 S.E.2d 371, 384 (1984)).
Code § 18.2-266 provides, in pertinent part, that “it shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle . . . while such person is under the influence of alcohol . . . . ” (Emphasis added). An “operator” of a car is defined as any person “who either drives or is in actual physical control of a motor vehicle . . . . ” Code § 46.2-100. “Operating” a car within the meaning of Code § 18.2-266
“not only includes the process of moving the vehicle from one place to another, but also includes starting the engine, or manipulating the mechanical or electrical equipment of the vehicle without actually putting the car in motion. It means engaging the machinery of the vehicle which alone, or in sequence, will activate the motive power of the vehicle.”
The trial court declined to give appellant’s proffered instruction, which provided that: “Operating a motor vehicle means starting the engine or manipulating the electrical or mechanical equipment of the vehicle without actually putting the vehicle in motion but with the purpose of putting it in motion.” (Emphasis added). It granted the Commonwealth’s jury instruction on that issue, which provided that: “Operating a motor vehicle not only includes the process of moving the vehicle from one place to another, but also includes starting the engine, or manipulating the mechanical or electrical equipment of the vehicle without actually putting the car in motion.”
Appellant’s proffered instruction was not an accurate statement of the law. See Mouberry v. Commonwealth, 39 v. App. 576, 582, 575 S.E.2d 567, 569 (2003) (“No instruction should be given that ‘incorrectly states the applicable law or which would be confusing or misleading to the jury.'” (quoting Bruce v. Commonwealth, 9 v. App. 298, 300, 387 S.E.2d 279, 280, 6 v. Law Rep. 909 (1990))). Consistent with prior decisions of this Court and the Supreme Court, it was not necessary that the jury find appellant acted “with the purpose of putting a car in motion” to find he “operated” a car within the meaning of Code § 18.2-266.
The instruction granted by the trial court fully and fairly covered the principles of law relevant to the question of whether appellant operated the car in which he was found, intoxicated and while the engine was running. We conclude the trial court did not err in refusing to grant appellant’s proffered jury instruction..
- Sufficiency of the Evidence
Appellant also contends the Commonwealth’s evidence was insufficient as a matter of law to prove he “operated the vehicle, because there is no evidence that supports a reasonable inference that he had any purpose to put his vehicle in motion on a highway.” We find appellant’s argument to be without merit.
The evidence at trial proved appellant was in his car and was intoxicated, that the key was in the ignition switch of his car, turned to the on position, and the car’s engine was running. From this evidence, the jury could reasonably conclude appellant was in actual physical control of the car, and was “operating” it within the meaning of Code § 18.2-266. Accordingly, we find the jury did not err in finding the evidence sufficient to convict appellant of DUI in violation of Code § 18.2-266. See Stevenson, 243 v. at 438, 416 S.E.2d at 438; see also Gallagher v. Commonwealth, 205 v. 666, 139 S.E.2d 37 (1964), citing with approval State v. Sweeney, 77 N.J. Super. 512, 187 A.2d 39, 45 (N.J. Super. Ct. App. Div. 1962) (holding “defendant’s acts, while intoxicated, in entering the automobile, turning on the ignition, starting and maintaining the motor in operation, and remaining in the driver’s seat behind the steering wheel, where he was found by the police, justify his conviction as the operator of the automobile”).
- Admission of Appellant’s DMV Record
Appellant also contends the trial court erred at the sentencing phase of his bifurcated jury trial by admitting his DMV record into evidence pursuant to Code § 46.2-943, arguing it was error to do so because the Commonwealth did not comply with the notice provisions of Code § 19.2-295.1. 2We disagree, finding that Code § 46.2-943, rather than Code § 19.2-295.1, is the controlling statute in this case.
“‘The admissibility of evidence is within the broad discretion of the trial court, and its ruling thereon will not be disturbed on appeal in the absence of an abuse of discretion.'” Jones v. Commonwealth, 38 v. App. 231, 236, 563 S.E.2d 364, 366 (2002) (quoting Blain v.Commonwealth, 7 v. App. 10, 16, 371 S.E.2d 838, 842, 5 v. Law Rep. 356 (1988)). However, “a trial court ‘by definition abuses its discretion when it makes an error of law.'” Shooltz v. Shooltz, 27 v. App. 264, 271, 498 S.E.2d 437, 441 (1998) (quoting Koon v. United States, 518 U.S. 81, 100, 116 S. Ct. 2035, 135 L. Ed. 2d 392 (1996)). “In determining whether the trial court made an error of law, ‘we review the trial court’s statutory interpretations and legal conclusions de novo.'” Rollins v. Commonwealth, 37 v. App. 73, 79, 554 S.E.2d 99, 102 (2001) (quoting Timbers v. Commonwealth, 28 v. App. 187, 193, 503 S.E.2d 233, 236 (1998)).
Auer v. Commonwealth, 46 v. App. 637, 643, 621 S.E.2d 140, 142-43 (2005). See Code § 46.2-382; see also Farmer v. Commonwealth, 10 v. App. 175, 180, 390 S.E.2d 775, 777, 6 v. Law Rep. 1958 (1990), aff’d en banc, 12 v. App. 337, 404 S.E.2d 371, 7 v. Law Rep. 2425 (1991).
The term “prior record,” within the meaning of Code § 46.2-943, is defined as “the record of prior suspensions and revocations of a driver’s license, and the record of prior convictions of offenses described in Code § 46.2-943.” Code § 46.2-943. A DMV record is admissible evidence of a defendant’s prior record. See Code § 46.2-384; see also Mwangi v. Commonwealth, 277 v. 393, 395, 672 S.E.2d 888, 890 (2009).
Accordingly, when the jury found appellant guilty of DUI, Code § 46.2-943 authorized the admission of his DMV record into evidence during the sentencing phase as evidence of his prior record.
Appellant contends, nevertheless, that the trial court erred by admitting his DMV record into evidence because the Commonwealth did not comply with the notice provisions of Code § 19.2-295.1. He argues that Code § 19.2-295.1 and Code § 46.2-943 address similar subjects, i.e., the introduction of evidence of prior offenses during the sentencing phase of a bifurcated trial, and contends the trial court should have harmonized the two statutes by applying the Code § 19.2-295.1 notice requirements to Code § 46.2-943, which contains no notice requirement.
“Under well-settled principles of statutory construction, 1 we may not adopt an interpretation of one statute that conflicts with the plain language of another.” Washington v. Commonwealth, 272 v. 449, 458-59, 634 S.E.2d 310, 315-16 (2006) (internal citations omitted). “Courts cannot ‘add language to the statute the General Assembly has not seen fit to include.'” Id. at 459, 634 S.E.2d at 316. “Nor are they permitted to accomplish the same result by judicial interpretation.”
For the trial court to find that the Code § 19.2-295.1 notice requirements applied as a prerequisite to the admission of appellant’s DMV transcript into evidence pursuant to Code § 46.2-943, it would have to read those requirements into Code § 46.2-943, which does not contain a notice requirement. To do so would be to impermissibly add language to a statute that the General Assembly has not seen fit to include. See Washington, 272 v. at 458-59, 634 S.E.2d at 315-16.
Appellant also argues that Code § 19.2-295.1 is the controlling statute because it “provides very specific provisions on introduction of criminal histories” during the sentencing phase of a bifurcated trial, while “Code § 46.2-943 generally authorizes introduction of driving histories during sentencing.”
When one statute speaks to a subject generally and another deals with an element of that subject specifically, . . . if they conflict, the more specific statute prevails. This is so because a specific statute cannot be controlled or nullified by a statute of general application unless the legislature clearly intended such a result.
Commonwealth v. Brown, 259 v. 697, 706, 529 S.E.2d 96, 101 (2000) (internal citations omitted).
Here, contrary to appellant’s argument otherwise, v Code § 46.2-943 is the more specific statute. Prior to the 1994 enactment of Code § 19.2-295.1, “bifurcated trials were provided by statute only in capital murder cases . . . and in certain cases, Code § 46.1-347.2,” the predecessor of Code § 46.2-943. Brown v. Commonwealth, 226 v. 56, 59, 307 S.E.2d 239, 240-41 (1983). Code § 46.2-943 permitted the trier of fact to conduct “an individualized assessment of a defendant’s prior record in the context of the subject offense, thereby promoting a more informed determination of sentence.” Gilliam v. Commonwealth, 21 v. App. 519, 523, 465 S.E.2d 592, 594 (1996). Code § 19.2-295.1 expanded the use of bifurcated jury trials to all trials in which the defendant is found guilty of a Class 1 misdemeanor or a felony. Code § 19.2-295.1 is a statute of more general application than Code § 46.2-943, which pertains solely to trials involving driving offenses, including DUI.
We additionally note that the “implied repeal of an earlier statute by a later enactment is not favored,” and we “assume that a legislative body, when enacting new legislation, was aware of existing laws pertaining to the same subject matter . . . .” Sexton v. v Cornett, 271 v. 251, 257, 623 S.E.2d 898, 901 (2006); see also Code § 1-239. We conclude that since the General Assembly did not expressly refer to Code § 46.2-943, a statute related to sentencing proceedings in bifurcated trials for driving offenses, when it enacted Code § 19.2-295.1, it did not intend to impose the Code § 19.2-295.1 notice requirements as a prerequisite for the admissibility of a defendant’s prior record into evidence pursuant to Code § 46.2-943. 4
We conclude that the Code § 19.2-295.1 notice requirements do not apply to the admission of a defendant’s prior record into evidence pursuant to Code § 46.2-943. Accordingly, we conclude the trial court did not err by admitting appellant’s DMV record into evidence.
For the foregoing reasons, we affirm appellant’s conviction and sentence.