EK Blog

The attorneys at Ervin Kibria PLLC are committed to providing updates and insight into changing criminal offenses in Virginia and DC.

Reckless Driving – Should I Get My Speedometer Calibrated?

I’ve been charged with reckless driving or speeding, should I get my speedometer calibrated?

First, if you’ve been charged with reckless driving or an elevated speeding ticket, you should reach out to an attorney immediately to discuss the specifics about your case.  That said, there are very few scenarios in which it would not be beneficial to have your speedometer calibration checked by a certified auto shop.

What’s the purpose of having your speedometer checked?  If your speedometer is reading lower than it should, that would serve as evidence that you were not aware that you were speeding at the rate alleged.  For example, let’s say that you’re pulled over for driving 82 mph. In Virginia, that speed is considered reckless driving, since it’s over 80 mph. If a certified auto shop establishes that your speedometer reads 5mph lower, that would indicate that your speedometer would have read only 77 mph – which can almost automatically get a reduction from reckless driving to simple speeding.  In some situations, the low reading on your speedometer calibration would result in your charge even being reduced to defective equipment, which is a non-moving violation.

A speedometer calibration certificate should identify the car and state the various speeds at which the car was tested. The speeds at which the car was tested should at least come close to the speed on the ticket (i.e. don’t have the car tested at only 25 mph if you are charged with going 85mph). And most importantly, the mechanic should record the speedometer’s results at the various speeds.

There are several of places in Virginia where you can go to get a speedometer calibrated. Here is a list of some places that are equipped to producing calibration certificates for court cases.

However, if you have been charged with reckless driving in Fairfax County, it is strongly encouraged that you reach out to an attorney at Ervin Kibria PLLC for a free consultation regarding your charges.  Please call (703) 962-7790 for your free consultation.

M&M Collision
3165 Campbell Drive
Fairfax,V 22031
(703) 591-9601

Bill’s Auto Service & Discount Tire Center
98 Hardees Dr.
Manassas Park, VA 20111
(703) 368-2200

Ron’s Mobile Services Cars And Trucks, Inc.
1412 S. 28th St., #5
Arlington, VA 22206
(703) 980-3911

Drake Auto Shop23571 Pebble Run Place # 150
Sterling, VA 20166
(571) 244-6963

New Law Removes Automatic Suspension of Drivers License for Possession of Marijuana

Effective July 1, 2017, a long-overdue change to Virginia’s marijuana possession penalties will finally remove an archaic Virginia law.

Virginia Governor Terry McAuliffe signed a bill on March 27, 2017 that removes the statutory requirement that a conviction for possession of marijuana must result in the suspension of the defendant’s license for a period of 6 months.  Instead, the new law puts the decision to impose a license suspension solely in the hands of the presiding judge, allowing him or her to consider the facts of the specific case and determine whether a license suspension is or is not appropriate under the circumstances.

Previously, a defendant could be convicted of possession of marijuana in Virginia while walking in public and, by statute, his drivers license would have to be suspended for 6 months even though he was not driving at the time of his citation.  This was an unnecessarily severe penalty for the possession of marijuana offense and was extremely unpopular among Virginia residents.  Before this bill, a first offense for possession of less than a half ounce of marijuana is a misdemeanor punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $500 fine, plus six-month suspension of the individual’s license.  This mandatory suspension of driving privileges has been particularly burdensome among Virginia’s lower income population, who often need to drive between multiple jobs and their extremely fluid work schedule made getting a restricted license approved by the court extremely difficult.

There are, however, still caveats to this new rule regarding the suspension of drivers license related to possession of marijuana convictions:

  1. Juveniles caught with personal amounts of marijuana will still face an automatic six-month suspension of their driving privileges.
  2. For adults, the license suspension would be replaced with 100 hours of community service – so there is still an added punishment for possession of marijuana.

According to the Virginia DMV, 5,762 people had their licenses suspended last year due to marijuana possession convictions.  Again, the vast majority of these have been proven to be low-income Virginia residents.

We’re still a long, long way from legalizing marijuana in Virginia – but removing this archaic law requiring the automatic suspension of driving privileges merely for possessing marijuana is at least a baby step in the right direction.

If you have been charged with possession of marijuana in Fairfax County, please reach out to attorney Justin Ervin today for a free consultation.

We can always be reached at (703) 962-7790.

How Long Do Convictions Stay on My Record in Virginia?

A question that we frequently receive from both clients and non-clients seeking consultations is “How long will a conviction for this stay on my record?”  There’s actually 2 answers to this question, but unfortunately neither of them are usually well received.

The most straight-forward answer is: forever.  Regardless of whether you are only convicted of a first-time offense, such as possession of marijuana or reckless driving, these convictions will stay on your record forever.  Virginia law makes no distinction between misdemeanors or felonies in this respect.  A criminal conviction is a criminal conviction, and it will be on your record.  And even beyond that – all criminal arrests will stay on your record forever as well.  If you’ve found this blog post by conducting an internet search, this probably isn’t the answer you wanted to hear, but it only highlights the reason why you should reach out to an attorney immediately if you are facing criminal charges – even for simple misdemeanors.  Again, criminal convictions – even for misdemeanors – stay on your record forever in Virginia.

However, occasionally we’re asked a slightly different version of this question.  If you actual concern is, “How long will a conviction show up on a background check?” – well, that’s a different answer!  Under the Fair Credit and Reporting Act, companies that perform background checks can only report convictions from the previous 7 years.  Again, there is no different standard applied to misdemeanors vs. felonies in this record.  So, if you are convicted of First Offense Possession of Marijuana in Virginia and 4 years later you apply for a job, that Possession of Marijuana conviction will show up on the background check.  And keep in mind, this 7 year search scope only applies to private employment.  If you are seeking to work for the government or obtain a security clearance, then the FCRA has no standing and every conviction on your record will be reported.

So, this then leads us to the second most asked question we receive from potential clients: “Do I really need to hire an attorney for a misdemeanor?”  The answer, in most cases, is yes!  As we’ve discussed, a conviction will be on your record forever and will show up on a background check for a job for at least 7 years.  That should not be taken lightly.  And when the job market is as soft as it currently is, you can’t give an employer a reason to look more closely at other potential employees over your own application.

The attorneys at Ervin Kibria PLLC are available today to discuss your case with you and provide their recommendation on whether you should retain counsel.  However, hiring an attorney does not guarantee that you’ll walk away with a clean record.  Every case is different, and every client is different.  But as far as your job prospects are concerned, having a charge reduced down to a lower level misdemeanor can be critical.

If you are interested in speaking to an attorney about your case, give us a call at (703) 962-7790.

Justin Ervin Recognized as a 2017 Rising Star by Super Lawyers

Ervin Kibria PLLC is pleased to announce that Justin Ervin has been named a 2017 ‘Rising Star’ by Super Lawyers. To be eligible for this prestigious distinction, a lawyer must be either 40 years old or younger or in practice 10 years or less. Super Lawyers evaluates nominees using a patented process evaluating 12 indicators of peer recognition and professional achievement. No more that 2.5 percent of the lawyers in a state are named ‘Rising Stars’.

 

For more information on the Rising Star selection process, please visit the most recent digital issue of Virginia Super Lawyers magazine:

http://digital.superlawyers.com/superlawyers/vawvslrs17?pg=30#pg30

 

A Changing Tide in Marijuana? Not in Virginia…

There’s a lot of talk this election cycle about “normalization” – but one topic of normalization that may be flying under the radar is the growing acceptance and legalization of marijuana throughout the United States.  In just this past election, California, Massachusetts, and Nevada legalized marijuana possession, joining a handful of other states (such as Colorado and Washington State) that had already legalized it.  With the addition of California, Massachusetts and Nevada, the percentage of Americans living in states where marijuana use is legal for adults rose above 20 percent, from 5 percent. The California measure, which passed with 56 percent approval, allows people over 21 to possess limited amounts of marijuana for personal use and also permits the personal cultivation of up to six plants in private residences, provided they are shielded from public view. The sale of recreational marijuana will not be allowed until licenses are issued, a process that will take at least two years.  So that’s progress, right?  Absolutely.  But what does it mean for residents of Virginia?  Unfortunately, probably not a lot.

drug possession defense

Possession of marijuana is still illegal in the Commonwealth of Virginia.  And, in all likelihood, it’s going to be that way for some time.  Virginia’s anti-marijuana stance, however, stands in clear contrast to the tide of national sentiment.  A Gallup poll in October found nationwide support for legalization at 60 percent, the highest level in the 47 years the organization has tracked the issue.

Support is rising even though some public health experts warn that there have been insufficient studies of the drug’s effects and that law enforcement agencies lack reliable tests and protocols to determine whether a driver is impaired by marijuana.

That fact is, however, that the Virginia Assembly is not yet even ready to back away from its tough penalties for simple possession convictions, much less actual legalization.  The House committee recently rejected SB 104, which would have reduced the penalty for first possession of cannabis to a civil fine of only $100. The law remains the same, with first offenders still facing a fine of up to $500 and one month in jail, regardless of whether they have epilepsy. Furthermore, SB 613 was approved by the Senate, and would have eliminated the automatic 6-month driver’s license suspension that is part of the penalty for a first-time marijuana possession, but oddly enough it was shot down by the House committee.

While the trend in much of the United States is moving toward decriminalization or legalization of marijuana, Virginia is heading in the opposite direction: With sharply rising arrest totals for the possession of pot and a disproportionate number of African Americans arrested in the Commonwealth, according to a new study based on state data reported to the FBI. The ratio of black-to-white marijuana arrests was 2.4 to 1 in 2003, but in 2013, it was 3.3 to 1.  In the three years from 2011 to 2013, annual possession arrests by Virginia law enforcement went up by about 2,000 a year, and black Virginians accounted for 82 percent of the increase.

Virginia law enforcement authorities still see marijuana as a dangerous drug and are not inclined to reduce enforcement.  Dana Schrad, executive director of the Virginia Association of Chiefs of Police, said state police officials are “closely watching the outcomes in Colorado and Washington state to monitor how their legal reforms have impacted the quality of life in those states.  We’re also very interested in the impact of the District’s reforms on Northern Virginia.”

So although the national trend is clear, temper your expectations with Virginia.  It’s going to be a while.

If you’ve been charged with possession of marijuana in Virginia, be sure to reach out to our expert defense attorneys for a free consultation.

Contact Ervin Kibria Law at (703) 962-7790

Why Virginia Suspends Your License For Possession of Marijuana

During initial consultations, one of the most common reactions that I see is surprise upon learning that a conviction for possession of marijuana will result in a 6 month suspension of your drivers license.  Even if you were simply walking down the street and an officer issued you a citation for possession of marijuana, a conviction would still result in license suspension – even though you were not driving at the time!  Even if you’re currently not licensed, it will be six months from the conviction until you could get a license, so it suspends your ability to get a license. If you’re licensed in another state, for example, then your privilege to drive in Virginia would be suspended. For out of state residents this means that you would not be legally allowed to drive through our state for six months.

Under Virginia Code § 18.2-250.1, it is unlawful for any person to “knowingly” possess marijuana. Generally, any person convicted of a first offense for possession of marijuana (less than one-half ounce) is guilty of a misdemeanor and subject to confinement in jail for up to thirty (30) days and a fine of up to $500. Additionally, conviction under this statute requires a suspension of an individual’s license to drive a motor vehicle for six months. See Virginia Code §18.2-259.1. However, an individual whose license is suspended may petition the court for a restricted license to drive to work, school, church and medical appointments.

The main way that we can seek to avoid license suspension for a Virginia possession of marijuana charge is, of course, by fighting the charge head on. If the charge is dismissed, then obviously there would be no license suspension.
Another option to try to avoid license suspension is to try to have the charge amended from possession of marijuana to possession of drug paraphernalia. This is still a misdemeanor charge, and so it’s still a serious offense. However, people like it in some cases because there is no license suspension. This is a statue where usually the punishment would be a fine, but that depends upon the record.
As you can see, if you’re charged with Virginia possession of marijuana you should contact Justin Ervin at Ervin Kibria PLLC to discuss your case and evaluate your options.  Learn more by visiting Fairfax Possession of Marijuana, Alexandria Possession of Marijuana, Arlington Possession of Marijuana, Loudoun Possession of Marijuana.

Contact Justin Ervin at 703-962-7790

Arlington Attorney Explains Reckless Driving Defenses

Were you recently charged with reckless driving in Arlington County, Virginia?  If so, there are a few things you need to know right off that bat so that you can properly prepare yourself and begin the process of seeking legal representation.

First, reckless driving is not a simple traffic infraction.  Reckless driving is a misdemeanor in Virginia, meaning that it is treated as a criminal offense throughout the Commonwealth.  In Arlington, in particular, however, the penalties for reckless driving can be substantially worse than they are in other jurisdictions.

One of the first things you’ll learn if you go to Arlington General District Court by yourself is that the prosecutors will rarely work with you to reduce your charge without having a defense attorney present.  They’ll often tell you to simply take your case to the judge.  That’s not the way that our legal system is supposed to work, and you shouldn’t be forced to retain legal counsel simply to open up negotiations with prosecutors, but unfortunately that is exactly what happens in Arlington County.

So, let’s say the prosecutor won’t work with you and the judge doesn’t put any stock into your story, what are you looking at as punishment for reckless driving in Arlington.

reckless driving

First Offense Reckless Driving in Arlington County:

The maximum penalties for a first offense reckless driving are:

  • 12 months jail
  • Up to $2,500 fine
  • 6 months suspension of driver’s license
  • 6 DMV demerit points

But the maximum penalties are very rarely imposed.  Instead, you’re probably looking at:

  • Possible 30 days suspended jail time
  • $200 fine
  • 6 months suspension of driver’s license
  • 6 DMV demerit points

Even those these penalties are substantial less than the maximum penalties that can be imposed for a first offense reckless driving conviction, there are severe nonetheless.  This is where having an experienced criminal defense attorney at your side comes in handy!

The VERY first thing that I have all my Arlington County reckless driving clients do is sign up for a specific driving improvement program.  There are dozens of DMV recognized driving improvement courses in Virginia, but the Arlington courts specifically rely on one specific driving improvement course:

Lifestyles Learning/Driver Behavior Management Program – 6 hour

Director: Art Von Herbulis

2100 Washington Boulevard

Arlington, VA 22204

Arlington Department of Human Services

Phone: (703) 297-2688

Email: artvonherb@live.com

Once you complete that course and receive your completion certificate, I can begin negotiating on your behalf to potentially get the charge dismissed entirely, or at least reduced to a speeding charge or another traffic infraction that does not result in a criminal conviction or 6 DMV demerit points.

Getting in front of a reckless driving charge is critical.  If you have been charged with reckless driving in Arlington, reach out to Justin Ervin at Ervin Kibria PLLC today to discuss representation in your case!

Call me at (703) 962-7790

 

Virginia One of the Harshest DUI States

In a recent study conduct by WalletHub, Virginia was found to rank #8 out of the 50 states in a ranking of the harshest DUI penalties in the country.   Compared to many states that do not impose either minimum jail sentences or mandatory suspension of drivers license, Virginia has adopted both of these punitive and preventative measures in its combat against drunk driving.  However, this study also works to demonstrate how prosecutors in Virginia often vilify and attempt to impose the harshest sentences possible, without putting much stock or interest into the specific facts of a case.  But at least that’s a strong reason why you should always have a DUI attorney by your side when you are facing a DUI charge.

dui3

According to the study, after a DUI conviction, most states impose a 3 month suspension on your driver’s license.  In Virginia, a first offense DUI conviction is going to lead to a 1 year suspension of your license – more than 3 times the national average!

Additionally, Virginia now requires the installation of an ignition interlock device after every DUI conviction, while in most states, an ignition interlock device is only required after a 2 or 3 conviction, or when an elevated BAC is involved.  This is not the case in Virginia.  If you’re convicted of a DUI, you are going to be required to install an ignition interlock device in your vehicle – and pay for it!

Finally, in most other states in the country, only prior DUIs committed in the past 5 years impact the penalties that are imposed on a new offense.  However, in Virginia, the prosecutors can bring in prior DUI convictions up to 10 years old to elevate the punishments that are imposed and trigger various mandatory minimum thresholds.

This study goes to show, if you’ve been charged with a DUI in Alexandria, Fairfax, Arlington, or Prince William County, you are best served by immediately reaching out to a qualified DUI attorney to make sure that your rights are properly and thoroughly protected.

What Are the Consequences of Reckless Driving in Virginia?

Reckless driving may sound like a relatively simple traffic ticket, but the truth is that reckless driving is a serious criminal offense in Virginia.  Reckless driving carries many of the same penalties as a DUI, and it should be treated with the same degree of diligence.  If you have been charged with reckless driving in Fairfax, Alexandria, Arlington, Prince William, or Loudoun County, you should reach out to the experienced reckless driving attorneys of Ervin Kibria today.

street_race

 

If you’ve been charged with reckless driving, it is important to understand what sort consequences you could be facing when choosing whether to hire an attorney.  Here are a few of the common punishments that unrepresented defendants face:

Jail

Yes, jail is a possible punishment for Virginia reckless driving, however judges typically do not impose jail time until at least 95 mph and usually only at 100 mph (or 30+ over the speed limit). That varies depending upon the judge and many other factors, but 90 is not the normal jail threshold.

Some areas of Virginia do use 90 mph as a jail threshold, but it’s important to understand that every case differs. You’re not automatically going to jail even if a particular judge uses a certain speed as a line in the sand.

The differences in jail time make it critically important to discuss your case with an attorney who knows the local players involved in your case.

Fine

The most common punishment for reckless driving is a fine.  However, the specific fine will depend upon a variety of factors including the local court.

The maximum fine that can legally be imposed is $2,500.  Depending upon all the facts of the case, an average reckless driving fine is generally between $300 to $1,000.

Some judges have rules of thumb for the fine. For instance, for many judges a reckless driving conviction for 90 in a 65mph zone would be a $250 fine plus court costs of $81. Virginia law gives you at least 30 days to pay anything you owe to the court. If you need additional time, you can ask the court for a longer payment deadline. But these are just the court imposed punishments.

License suspension

After jail, losing your license is often the punishment that most defendants are concerned about the most.  However, license suspension is similar to jail time. It doesn’t happen in the average reckless driving case, but it’s always possible, especially in higher speed cases.

In cases where the judge suspends your driver’s license, he can authorize a restricted license. This gives you permission to drive for specific purposes, such as going to work, attending school, taking your children to school, and going to the doctor. A restricted license doesn’t give you blanket permission to drive whenever you want, but it can at least help you get to work.

Insurance premium hike

Aside from fines, jail, and license suspension, insurance premiums are a major concern for many drivers. What will a reckless driving conviction due to your insurance premiums?

What will happen to your specific insurance premiums depends on your insurance carrier.   That said, according to one insurance survey, a reckless driving conviction increases premiums on average by 21.8%! A regular speeding ticket for 1-14 mph over the limit only increases premiums 10.62% on average.

Using those numbers, if you’re currently paying $100 per month for insurance, a reckless driving conviction would cost you $261 more per year in insurance premiums alone. If the insurance company considers the conviction for multiple years, the expense gets worse. Hiring an attorney certainly costs some money up front, but avoiding a reckless driving conviction could easily save money in the long run.

Security clearance problems

Practicing near D.C., I’ve represented many people who were concerned about their security clearance. Rightfully so.

Your supervisor or security clearance review officer will know the best answer for your situation and clearance level, but any misdemeanor conviction could threaten a clearance. Based on my experience, one reckless driving conviction usually does not kill a clearance. However, multiple convictions could be seen as a judgment problem. But you will certainly need to speak with your clearance review officer to know the best route for your job security.

Need more information?  Contact a reckless driving attorney now at (703) 962-7790

Do I Need a Lawyer for My DC DUI Charge?

The Importance of an Experienced DC DUI Attorney

If you have been charged with a DUI, DWI or OWI in Washington DC, you are in an uphill battle.  Dealing with DUI, DWI or OWI charge  can be frightening, stressful and very complicated.  You may want to give in without a fight.  You might want to deal it with it  yourself, without a lawyer. Do not do that.  With the help of the right, experienced DC DUI lawyer you can fight the charge and may even beat it.  Retaining an experienced DUI lawyer will also reduce the anxiety, stress and the the infinite number of questions in your mind when facing a DUI charge.  Choose and Retain your lawyer wisely!

Do I have a legitimate DUI / DWI defense in Washington DC?

I speak daily with clients and potential clients who are unsure if  it is worth hiring an experienced  DC defense attorney to help them with their DUI charge because it seems like it is an “open and shut case.” There is no such thing as an open and shut case.!  I say this because of the 4th Amendment which guards against illegal searches and seizures and all people, regardless of their actions, is entitled to  their 4th Amendment rights.  So one of the key questions to ask when charged with a DUI, DWI or OWI is if  the stop of your vehicle  was valid?  The next question it must be asked, was there enough probable cause to arrest you?  The only way to  determine the correct answers to these questions and get proper advice on these issues is  by speaking to an experienced  DC DUI Lawyer.

Reasonable Suspicion to Stop

All traffic stops must be performed with reasonable suspicion that the driver has either violated the motor vehicle code or with reasonable suspicion that the driver is engaged in some type of criminal activity.  In almost all every case , if there was  no actual violation of the traffic code by the defendant, the officer who made the stop will claim that there was some sort of traffic movement which is legal but “based on his experience as an officer”  something in the action led him to believe that the driver was impaired and/or under the influence.

In defending against the officers claim, the defense, however, does not have to show or prove that there your vehicle did not make this type of movement.  Rather, the defense only has to show that there was no warrant issued for the seizure of you and your vehicle on the date that you were stopped.  A warrantless stop is legal and valid only IF the officer had “reasonable, articulable suspicion” that a crime was committed or was being committed.  Therefore, the  stop is legal only if the officer is able to point to specific and articulable facts which, taken together with rational inferences from those facts, reasonably warrant the officer’s stop of your vehicle.

Probable Cause to Arrest

In the District of Columbia, it is always the prosecution’s burden to show that there is a valid exception to the warrant requirement of the 4th Amendment to arrest you for suspicion of DUI.  A warrantless arrest is only valid if it is based upon probable cause.  Of specific importance, courts have ruled that the mere odor of alcohol on a person’s breath without more evidence is insufficient to establish either intoxication or lack of control of one’s vehicle.  This means that an officer’s simple observation that you may have the odor of alcohol on your breath is not sufficient evidence by itself to validate an arrest.  Furthermore, erratic behavior of the defendant alone is also not sufficient to establish probable cause for arrest.  Police officers must establish a connection between the “erratic” behavior and the consumption of alcohol before the evidence can rise to the level of probable cause for a lawful arrest.

Hopefully this assists you to be  thinking more thoroughly about your own DUI case.  It is highly recommended, by anyone who has faced and successfully challenged a DUI charge in the past, that you speak to an experienced DC DUI lawyer.   For more information, please visit DC DUI DWI, OWI Lawyer or call Nabeel Kibria at 202-689-4439.