Thursday, December 29, 2011

Virginia Overweight Citations - 21 Days Means 21 Days

            In the Commonwealth of Virginia if your driver or if your company is issued an overweight and/or oversize citation you MUST file a written election to contest with the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles within 21 days of receiving the citation. If you do not file a written election to contest. the VA DMV will presume you are not contesting the citation and will automatically assess the full amount of the fine against your company and/or driver.
            If you regularly transport freight through Virginia or are planning on transiting through Virginia it is important that you speak to your drivers about the overweight/oversize citation rules in Virginia. You need to ensure that they immediately report any and all such citations to you. Under the Virginia Code §46.2-1133 your 21 days will run from the moment the citation is issued to the driver by the citing police officer.
            Once receiving the citation or a copy of the citation you should check the box stating "I ELECT TO CONTEST this overweight charge" sign, date and then send it to the VA DMV. The Election to Contest should be sent to the following address:

                        Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
                        Attn: Motor Carrier Services - MCS Citation Tracking
                        2300 West Broad Street
                        Richmond, VA 23269

-or-

                        Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles
                        Attn: Motor Carrier Services - MCS Citation Tracking
                        P.O. Box 27412
                        Richmond, VA 23269-0001                   

It is extremely important that you send the Election to Contest via CERTIFIED MAIL, FEDERAL EXPRESS and/or UPS to the VA DMV. You must ensure you have some way to prove that the DMV has received your Election to Contest. Virginia law places the obligation on the cited party to ensure that the Election to Contest is received by the DMV within the 21 days.
            You will notice that the overweight citation will list a trial hearing time and date. However, your case will not be heard unless you properly send a notice or your intent to contest to the VA DMV. If the DMV does not receive your Election to Contest then per Virginia Code § 46.2-1133(4) it will not forward your citation to the local court and your case will not appear on the docket. Failing to file the Election to Contest within 21 means that you will lose your right to a court hearing on the citation.
            The Virginia DMV is strictly enforcing this 21 day rule. Recently I learned of a motor carrier that received a substantial overweight fine. The motor carrier properly filled out the Election to Contest and placed it in the mail to the VA DMV well before the 21 day deadline. The carrier did not send the Election to Contest certified. The post office either lost the Election to Contest or the VA DMV received it and misplaced it. After 21 days passed the Virginia DMV sent this carrier an Order of Assessment and Suspension informing the carrier that the full amount of the citation was due and that they could not lawfully operate within Virginia until the entire assessment was paid. At that point there was nothing we could do to help the carrier. 
            If you receive an overweight/oversize citation in Virginia, file the Election to Contest with the DMV and preserve your right to a hearing. If you decide later not to contest the ticket you can always pay the fine prior to the hearing date.
            If you have received an overweight or oversized citation in Virginia our firm has the experience needed to defend you. Contact us today at 703-573-0700!

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