Archive for the ‘Traffic’ Category

Should I take a Polygraph?

Wednesday, October 2nd, 2013

Sometimes, I have clients come in who are adamant that they are not guilty and they will state ” I’ll take a polygraph that will prove I’m innocent! ”

A polygraph is a nice name for a lie detector test, and most people think they can ‘beat the test’ even if they are guilty. And sometimes, they really aren’t guilty of this particular accusation so they think they’re safe in taking the test.

The problem is that a polygraph has been proved to be ‘inherently unreliable’ and cannot be used in court.  It doesn’t really prove anything.

That part is fine.  What isn’t fine is that any statements you make during the interviews before or after taking the polygraph CAN be admitted into court.

Most of the time, the person taking the polygraph isn’t in custody, they came into the office to take the polygraph on their own and they are free to leave at any time, so the authorities don’t really need to issue any Miranda warnings, and they can ‘chat’ about anything.

Also, people use lie detector tests in cases other than criminal.  For example, sometimes people will be accused of adultery in a divorce case and they will agree to a polygraph to ‘prove’ they didn’t have an affair with someone.

My advice?  If you are ever in a position where you think you might want to take a polygraph to prove you’re innocent, just say no…..or at least contact an attorney and have the attorney with you when you go to take the test.  The attorney may be able to stop you from answering an ‘innocent’ question that might end up getting you into real trouble.

If you have questions about this or any other legal topic, please feel free to contact us at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at www.BeaversLaw.com.

Can I win if the traffic ticket has a mistake?

Sunday, February 3rd, 2013

I had a recent potential client ask if he could win in court because the police officer wrote down the wrong date of birth on his traffic ticket.

In this particular case, the officer wrote ’21’ instead of ’12’ as the day in the date of birth.  This was probably just a simple case of mixing up the digits.  It doesn’t really alter the age of the person unless the person had an important birthday that would change his status as a driver.  In this case, the person was 35 years old, so it really didn’t have any legal importance.

If you think that a mistake on a traffic ticket might be a way to win in court, you should contact an attorney who can evaluate the mistake and give you an opinion of the importance of that mistake.

But, I wouldn’t count on that printing mistake being sufficient to have the court find you not guilty for driving 85 in a 45 zone.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Failure To Yield Right Of Way

Monday, October 1st, 2012

People can get cited for failure to yield right of way and if they are found guilty, it is a 4 point violation in Virginia.  That’s a pretty big deal and can have a big impact on your insurance rates.

But, it’s more important than just points on a license and insurance rates.

Of course, each state has rules on when a person has the right of way and when you should yield the right of way to someone else.  Most of us are familiar with those rules, and if not, perhaps we should review the handbook.  For example, we all know that Pedestrians have the right of way in a cross-walk and that merging traffic must yield right of way to traffic that is already on the road.

Personally, I like the comment from The California Driver Handbook that saysRight-of-way rules, together with courtesy and common sense, help to promote traffic safety. It is important to respect the right-of-way of others, especially pedestrians, motorcycle riders, and bicycle riders. Never assume other drivers will give you the right-of-way. Yield your right-of-way when it helps to prevent collisions.”  (I added the bold for emphasis).

The lesson for today?  Know the rules of the road.  But remember that it’s more important to use common sense.

There are many variations on this, but I often remember this little poem when I’m driving:

Here lies the body of MichaelO’Day,
Who died maintaining his right of way.
He was right, dead right, as he sailed along,
But he’s just as dead as if he’d been wrong.

Can I be found guilty of DUI when the car is not turned ‘on’?

Tuesday, March 6th, 2012

In Virginia, the code section that is used for a DUI charge is section 18.2-266 which begins with ‘It shall be unlawful for any person to drive or operate any motor vehicle…’

There are the obvious cases where the car is in motion and the driver has been stopped by a law enforcement officer. But what about the times when the car is not moving?

For example, there have been previous cases where the engine was running but the transmission was in ‘Park’, where the key was in the ‘on’ position but the engine was not running, or where the key was in the ‘accessory’ position and the radio was playing, etc.

Many times, a person is charged with DUI when he/she is found asleep in the car, sitting in the driver’s seat, with the key in the ignition, sometimes with the engine turned off and the question has been whether or not they were considered to be ‘operating’ the vehicle.

On March 2, 2012, The Virginia Supreme Court issued an opinion in the case of Jean Paul Enriquez v. Commonwealth of Virginia that has established the rule that ‘when an intoxicated person is seated behind the steering wheel of a motor vehicle on a public highway and the key is in the ignition switch, he is in actual physical control of the vehicle and, therefore, is guilty of operating the vehicle while under the influence of alcohol within the meaning of code section 18.2-266.’

Obviously, the best solution is to not drive if you have been drinking at all.

It is safer for everyone if you get a cab home and come back tomorrow to get your car.

But, if you feel that you need to stay with your car, don’t sit in the driver’s seat and don’t put the key in the ignition or you might be found guilty of a DUI, even if the car is not in motion.

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.

Do I need to go to court?

Monday, September 5th, 2011

I was in court last week and noticed that there were a lot of people who didn’t show up for their scheduled court dates.  The judge was NOT happy and issued a lot of ‘failure to appear’ charges.

In fact, in one case I remember, the judge dismissed the underlying reason for the person to come to court that day….but issued a summons for the person and that person now has a ‘failure to appear’ charge pending.  I know this judge usually gives people a couple of days in jail for the failure to appear, so this one particular person went from having his charge dismissed to facing possible jail time.  All because he didn’t show up.

Why do people not show up in court as scheduled?

I imagine that a lot of them just forget.  Forgetting is NOT a good excuse.  Think of it this way, would you want the jail to ‘just forget’ to let you out?  Get a calendar and mark that date.  Put a reminder on your cell phone.  Put a note on your refrigerator.  Whatever it takes to get you to court on the right day.

And make sure you know what courtroom you are assigned.  I’ve often seen situations where people will sit in court all morning just to find out they were in the wrong court!  If you don’t know for sure where you are supposed to be, ask the guard when you first come in the building.  Show the guard your summons and ask for directions to the right courtroom.   This can be especially frustrating when there are different buildings.  You can also check online to make sure you know where the court is located.  Or call the clerk’s office to confirm your date (and time) and ask the clerk for directions to make sure that you are going to the right place.

Some people say that they got a paper in court, but they never got anything in the mail.  In the past, they always got something in the mail, so they figured they would get a notice in the mail this time too.  Sorry, you get notices in the mail when they can’t give you the notice in person.  If they give you a piece of paper in court with the next court date, you NEED to be there!

I had one person tell me that the original date was ‘just for child visitation’ and they decided they didn’t want to fight the visitation request, so they didn’t show up.  Not a good idea!  If you don’t want to fight the visitation request, you need to show up in court and tell that to the judge.  Otherwise, the judge will probably issue a ‘failure to appear’ summons and you will show up in court at a later time, with a much bigger problem!

Some people say that something else came up and they couldn’t make it to court.  If something really does come up, you can contact the court before your scheduled time to appear and the judge MIGHT give you a break and schedule another day.  Being in the hospital for surgery is the type of thing that the judge might accept.  Wanting to go shopping instead, or oversleeping because you were up late the night before is something that the judge will probably NOT accept.

For traffic tickets, the officer will write on the ticket whether or not you need to appear.  Most of the time, you can use the online system to pay for simple speeding tickets (although you should be aware that pre-paying the ticket is the same as pleading ‘guilty’ and you will receive the ‘points’ against your license).  If you have been charged with reckless driving, you must appear.

Sometimes an attorney can appear in court on your behalf and you don’t need to be there yourself.  Be sure to check with your attorney to make sure whether or not you need to appear yourself.  I generally suggest that my clients also appear in court even if they don’t really need to be there.  After all, it’s your life, your money, or your freedom that is at stake and you really should be involved in anything that might happen.  The attorney can tell you what the ‘regular’ judge will probably do, but that judge may be sick this one day and there is a substitute.  It’s just better to be there yourself.

The bottom line is that if you have been told to be in court on a certain day at a certain time, you need to make arrangements to be there!

If you have any questions about this or any other legal subject, please feel free to give us a call at 757-234-4650 or visit our website at http://www.BeaversLaw.com.