West Virginia Court Records
What are West Virginia Traffic Court Records?
West Virginia traffic court records are records created from the proceedings of traffic courts in the state of West Virginia. Traffic court records may include case files, evidence reports and other documents deemed to be of public record.
Are West Virginia Traffic Court Records Public Records?
Yes, they are. The West Virginia FOI Act grants access to public records, except where restricted by law or by a court order. Members of the public may obtain copies of a public record by submitting a request.
Which Courts in West Virginia have jurisdiction to hear traffic violation matters?
West Virginia traffic violations and infractions are heard in Municipal Court, Magistrate Court or Circuit Court. Cases involving violations of municipal ordinances are held in Municipal court, while misdemeanor cases and violations of state traffic laws are heard in Magistrate court. Circuit courts have jurisdiction over all misdemeanors so it is possible for a traffic case to be heard there as well.
Getting a Traffic Ticket in West Virginia.
In West Virginia, a Uniform Citation ticket is a legal document issued by a law enforcement officer to cite an offender for traffic violations. It typically includes four copies:
- White copy (Officer’s copy)
- Blue copy (Court copy)
- Yellow copy (Violator’s copy)
- Pink copy (DMV copy)
The citation will be completed by the officer before being issued to the violator and the officer will fill in the date and time when the ticket was issued. The ticket will contain the full name of the violator, address and details of the violator’s driver’s license. Other relevant driver characteristics will be included such as date of birth, social security number, gender, race, etc. Information about the vehicle involved in the violation will be noted on the ticket. The officer will also note the location of the alleged violation with a timestamp. In the charges section of the ticket, the officer will record the violation observed by marking the appropriate checkbox and indicate if the violation was of a state code or municipal ordinance. Only 2 charges are allowed per ticket and 1 violation per section. The specific code reference numbers will be included as well. The officer will print his/her name and sign the ticket, indicating his agency and badge ID number. The name and location of the court of jurisdiction, along with a date and time to appear will be listed on the ticket and the violator will be required to sign the citation before receiving their copy as an acknowledgment of the charges against them. The back of the ticket will contain information on responding to the ticket.
Traffic fines in West Virginia vary by court and county. Traffic offenses in West Virginia can be infractions or misdemeanors, the difference being misdemeanors carry the possibility of jail time if the offender is convicted. If the fine amount is not listed on the ticket, contact the court listed to obtain the total amount due.
West Virginia employs a points-based system for monitoring drivers. Convictions for moving traffic violations will be reported to the West Virginia Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) and points will be assessed to the violator’s record. If an offender accumulates 5 points, the offender will receive a warning letter from the West Virginia DMV. Accumulating between 12 and 19 points will result in license suspension ranging from 30–90 days. Accumulating 20 or more points will result in an indefinite suspension until the points total has been reduced to less than 11 points.
Generally, traffic offenses are termed as either moving violations or non-moving violations. Moving violations refer to offenses committed while the vehicle is in motion such as speeding or running a red light. Non-moving violations are offenses committed as a result of faulty/missing equipment or when the vehicle is stationary such a parking violation. Non-moving violations can be committed by moving vehicles, such as failure to wear a seatbelt. These types of violations will not be communicated to the West Virginia DMV and a conviction will not be assessed to the driver’s record.
What to Do When You Get a Traffic Ticket in West Virginia?
Upon receiving a West Virginia traffic ticket, the violator will need to decide how to respond. A response must be made on or before the date indicated on the ticket (Court appearance date). The violator can choose to:
- Pay the traffic ticket
- Contest the ticket
Choosing to pay the ticket is seen as an admission of guilt to the charges and will be noted as a conviction on the violator’s record. The offender must pay the total fine amount and any additional charges. The conviction will be reported to the West Virginia DMV and points will be assessed to the violator’s record, if applicable. Verification will have to made with the assigned court but payment of the fine can be made:
- Online- Payments made be possible online, by visiting the website of the designated court and using the online payment service (if available). The citation number and a major credit card will be required and a transaction fee may be charged.
- By Mail- Complete the Guilty/No Contest Plea notice on the reverse of the citation appropriately, sign and date and mail copy of the citation with money order or check for the total amount to the designated court. Do not send cash by mail.
- In-Person- Complete the appropriate section on the reverse of the citation and deliver in person to the designated court, with the total fine amount in money order, check or cash.
- Payments must be made on or before the date indicated on the citation as failure to do so will result in additional penalties.
If the defendant chooses to contest the ticket then a plea of Not Guilty must be submitted to the court. This can be done by marking the “Not Guilty Plea for Traffic Offenses” notice checkbox on the reverse of the ticket and mailing it to the assigned court. A reply will be sent with the date and time to appear in court Otherwise the defendant will need to show up at the designated court at the assigned date and time to enter the plea. After a plea has been entered, the court might require the defendant to post bail (to ensure return) and a date for a pre-trial hearing will be set. It is advisable to retain the services of a traffic attorney.
At the pre-trial hearing, the defendant can meet with the prosecutor and attempt to reach a plea agreement. If this is successful, then there will be no need for a trial. If it is unsuccessful, then the court will assign a date for the trial. After the trial, the judge will render judgment and find the defendant Guilty or Not Guilty. If found guilty, the defendant will have been convicted on the charges and be liable for all fines, costs and any additional penalties. The conviction will be reported to the West Virginia DMV and demerit points will be added to the defendant’s record. If the defendant was found Not Guilty, then all charges will be dismissed and the defendant will not be liable for the fine and no demerit points will be assessed to his record. Court costs may still be applicable.
Failure to appear for any court date could result in additional penalties so notice must be sent to the court prior if the defendant is unable to make any court date.
How Do I Find West Virginia Traffic Court Records?
Traffic court records in West Virginia can be obtained by using the search option on the West Virginia Judiciary website. It is also possible to find particular records by visiting the website of the courthouse where the case was heard and searching on there. If copies of the record are required, this will necessitate the filing of a request with the Clerk of the Court.
Additionally, publicly available records are accessible from some third-party websites. These websites offer the benefit of not being limited by geographical record availability and can often serve as a starting point when researching a specific or multiple records. To find a record using the search engines on these sites, interested parties must provide:
- The name of someone involved providing it is a not a juvenile
- The assumed location of the record in question such as a city, county, or state name
Third-party sites are not government-sponsored websites, and record availability may differ from official channels.
What information is required to obtain West Virginia Traffic Court Records?
Obtaining copies of a West Virginia traffic court record often requires the full name of the defendant on the record, case number of the record and any other pertinent information. A valid ID may also be required. In addition, requesters will be expected to pay ant applicable fees before the records can be released. This process applies as well if an in-person visit to a courthouse was made. Processing time varies for each court.
Can Traffic Records be sealed or expunged in West Virginia?
In West Virginia convictions for first-time misdemeanors and non-violent felonies may be eligible for expungement. If applying for the expungement of:
- One Misdemeanor- A waiting period of 1 year must have elapsed from the date of conviction, sentence completion or release from supervision; whichever occurs the last.
- Multiple Misdemeanors- A waiting period of 2 years must have elapsed from the date of conviction, sentence completion or release from supervision; whichever occurs last.
- Non-violent Felonies- A waiting period of 5 years must have elapsed from the date of conviction, sentence completion or release; whichever is the latest.
Convictions for DUIs and traffic offenses committed as a holder of a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL) or while operating a commercial vehicle are not eligible for expungement in West Virginia.