Suspended License Virginia Restoration License Habitual Offender Attorneys Augusta County
MERCHANT V. COMMONWEALTH OF VIRGINIA
The motorist was determined to be a habitual traffic offender based on three predicate offenses of driving while his license was suspended or revoked. The evidence showed the predicate convictions resulted from his failure to pay fines and costs. Thereafter, the motorist filed a petition for restoration of his operator’s license. The Commonwealth opposed the petition on the grounds he was a habitual offender who had not answered a speeding citation.
- Whether the operator’s license can be restored as the defendant has three predicate convictions?
The Commonwealth argued that restoration of the motorist’s operator’s license should not be permitted because, at the time of all three predicate convictions, he was also under suspension for failing to answer a speeding citation in another place. The motorist presented evidence that he had paid all outstanding fines and costs, including the one involving the speeding citation. The Commonwealth also asked that restoration be denied because of the motorist’s less than exemplary driving record.
When a person has been adjudged an habitual offender based solely upon convictions of driving on a suspended license for failure to pay fines and costs, he may petition the court at any time for restoration of this license upon proof that all outstanding fines and costs have been paid. In other words, there is no mandatory waiting period as in other habitual offender cases.
The court is of the opinion that the DMV suspension of Mr. Merchant’ licence under § 46.2-946 resulted from his failure to pay fines and costs in Arkansas. Arkansas notified DMV, even before Mr. Merchant was convicted, that Mr. Merchant had “failed to comply with the terms of the citation.” The terms of the citation with which Mr. Merchant failed to comply were, obviously, payment of fines and costs associated with that speeding citation.
Thus, at the time of the predicate convictions, all of Mr. Merchant’ suspensions were the result of failure to pay fines and costs. To hold otherwise would create an anomaly that the legislature surely did not intend: a person declared an habitual offender whose predicate offenses result from failure to pay fines and costs in Virginia courts would be eligible for immediate restoration upon proof that all outstanding fines and costs have been paid but if that person were under suspension for failure to pay an out-of-state citation, he would not be eligible for restoration even after he paid that fine and costs.
While acknowledging the many traffic violations on Mr. Merchant’ record, the court will not deny restoration for that reason in this case. Since Mr. Merchant was declared an habitual offender almost two years ago, he has accumulated no more violations, he has paid thousands of dollars in fines and costs, and he has attended a driving school to which he was assigned by DMV. The court will restore Mr. Merchant’ license under § 46.2-361(B).
The court ordered that the motorist’s license be restored.
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Article written by A Sris
These summaries are provided by the SRIS Law Group. They represent the firm’s unofficial views of the Justices’ opinions. The original opinions should be consulted for their authoritative content.