When you are cited for a traffic violation in the state of West Virginia, you may wonder what you do next. As is true in many states, you have three possible pleas that you could enter. You can either plead guilty, no contest, or not guilty.
If you choose to plead no contest, you are basically saying that you accept the penalties attached to the citation but you maintain your innocence to the charges against you. You may also plead guilty to the charges; a guilty plea is an admission of your guilt and as a result you will be forced to pay the fines associated with the ticket, and the incident will be recorded on your driver history. If you believe the citation was wrongly issued to you, however, you will want to challenge your ticket and should plead not guilty.
You also have the option of ignoring the ticket completely, but this is never wise. The Division of Motor Vehicles will likely suspend your driving privilege and the court may also issue a warrant for your arrest.
No matter which option you choose to take, the DMV will likely record points on your driving record. The number of points that will be levied against you is between 2 and 8 depending on the violation. The more serious your violation, the more points you will get; for example, speeding 5 to 9 mph over the limit will earn you 2 points, but the more serious offense of fleeing a police officer will earn you 8 points. If you start to accumulate too many points, you may be in danger of having your license suspended or revoked. Licensure suspension in West Virginia first occurs when you reach 12 total points, with a 30-day minimum suspension. If you accumulate 20 or more points, your license will be suspended until you reduce your point total to 11 or less. If you want to get points removed from your record, you can take a state-approved defensive driving course. This is only an option once every two years, but it is a good way to reduce your points if you are close to losing your license. It is also a good way to prove to your insurance company that you deserve lower rates for being a safer driver.
The various fines that are issued for violations are different depending on the county in which the violation was committed. The fine that you will have to pay will be listed on your ticket, but if you have questions, you can always call the courthouse which has jurisdiction over your citation. If you find that you cannot afford to pay the entire fine, you can call the court in question and see if a payment plan can be arranged. The clerk will be able to tell you how to apply, but you may have to appear in court in order to get the details finalized.
After you deal with the legal side of a ticket, you may wonder if your insurance rates will rise. Any adjustments to your rates will depend on the specific insurance company that you have a policy with, but if you see a that your rates have increased significantly, you may want to consider switching to another carrier.
If you are ever pulled over and ticketed while driving in West Virginia, you should make sure to follow up and take care of the ticket in a timely manner. Additionally, don’t forget to keep an eye on your driving record to ensure that the proper number of points has been recorded and that no additional blemishes have mistakenly appeared.