Most US citizens receive traffic and speeding tickets once in their lifetime. Although these tickets are considered minor walk-ins with the law that can be taken care of easily, that is not the case. If you have or ever get a ticket registered in your name, you should know that these minor tickets can escalate into issues that can result in you serving jail time. If you find yourself in a similar situation, the best way to deal with it is by fighting the tickets and clearing your name. Proving innocence and building a case against getting fines and punishment reduced can be tricky. The best way to deal with the situation is to hire a traffic attorney for your case.
As the name suggests, traffic violation laws deal with unlawful activities related to motor vehicles. Simply put, a traffic violation occurs when a vehicle driver breaches the rules and laws that regulate motor vehicle operation on highways and streets. These laws regulate both the movement of the vehicles and the status and condition of the documents related to them. Traffic violation laws are issued and enforced by local authorities, and matters related to them are discussed in local branches of state courts.
Although traffic violations vary from state to state, they can be classified into different categories based on two conditions:
Based on seriousness, traffic violations can be classified into:
Most traffic tickets fall under the category of infractions. Also known as civil offenses or civil violations, infractions classify as the least serious traffic offenses. In most states, traffic infractions are not considered to be a crime. Speeding, distracted driving, and running a red light or a stop sign are a few examples of what most states consider to be traffic infractions.
Dealing with these instances is fairly simple. You can either pay the traffic or speeding ticket issued for the violation, visit the traffic court and plead guilty, or challenge the traffic tickets and demand a trial in the traffic court. Fines for infractions vary from state to state and on the nature of the offense. Typically, fines range from US$50 to US$500. In addition to the fine, a traffic infraction conviction will result in you accumulating certain demerit points to your driving record. You can avoid incurring these demerit points, and the fine in some states, by completing the ordered sessions in traffic school. Jail time is not a possible punishment for infractions in most states.
A misdemeanor is a term used for more serious traffic offenses—violations such as driving under the influence and reckless driving fall under the category of traffic misdemeanors. Traffic infractions are treated as misdemeanors in the presence of aggravating factors. For instance, if you breach the speed limit mark by an excessive amount, it may be treated as a misdemeanor in some states. The majority of states also upgrade infractions to misdemeanors if they lead to an accident. Unlike infractions, misdemeanors are considered crimes and processed in criminal courts. If found guilty of a traffic misdemeanor, you can be sentenced to jail. Typically, a misdemeanor can result in jail time for up to a year and a fine of US$1000. In addition to the fine and jail sentence, misdemeanors can result in revocation of driving privileges and suspension.
The most serious traffic violations and offenses are termed felonies. For example, using a motor vehicle for homicide or manslaughter is termed a felony. In some states, driving under the influence is considered a felony if it causes harm and injuries to another person or if the driver has two or more prior driving under the influence convictions to their name. Like misdemeanors, felonies are prosecuted in criminal courts. However, a major difference in the case of felonies is that the defendant is required to pay a hefty bail amount to get out of police custody. The severity of the punishment for a felony depends on numerous factors, such as the circumstances under which the incident occurred and the defendant’s past criminal record. Typically, if convicted, a person could be fined thousands of dollars and ordered to serve a jail sentence of multiple years.
Based on the state of the motor vehicle, traffic violations can be divided into:
Moving violations of traffic laws are used for breaches of traffic regulations by a motorist when the vehicle is in motion. These violations include:
Non-moving violations occur when the vehicle is not being driven but is still breaching traffic regulations. In case you are guilty of a non-moving violation, you will only be liable for paying a fine. However, if multiple such tickets accumulate against your name, it can increase the severity of punishment. These violations include:
Other than paying fines, speeding and traffic tickets can taint your clean driving record. It can also have the following impact:
Accumulating demerit points for proven traffic violations can impact your insurance premium rates. Generally, a conviction for two or more moving violations over three to five years could result in the insurance company increasing the premium for your policy. In addition, most insurance companies offer good driver discounts that can help you save thousands of dollars every year. Having traffic tickets to your name can result in you losing out on these discounts.
Avoiding traffic and speeding tickets can also lead to license suspension and even revocation. Generally, infractions do not lead to license suspension. But overlooking traffic and speeding tickets and not taking action to settle your traffic violation dues can lead to license suspension.
Misdemeanors and felonies are the only types of traffic violations that can lead to jail time and community service. Even if you accumulate demerit points and fail to pay traffic ticket fines, you will still not be sentenced to jail.
Hiring a traffic ticket lawyer will benefit you in the following ways:
Have you been charged with traffic or speeding tickets? Do you want to get demerit points dismissed from your driving account? Do you feel you have been wrongly charged for a traffic violation? Fill in the form provided alongside, and we will help you find the best traffic attorney near you to assist and guide you in solving any issues related to traffic violations.