Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses
Authored by Ken LaMance
, LegalMatch Law Library Managing Editor and Attorney at Law
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How are Traffic Offenses classified?
Traffic offenses are usually considered minor offenses in most states. Simple traffic violations usually lead to a traffic ticket and are considered infractions. However, more serious traffic offenses can lead to misdemeanor
or even felony charges. These are considered criminal offenses and usually involve a trial and legal consequences.
What types of actions are considered Traffic Misdemeanors?
The rules governing traffic offenses will vary widely from state to state. Traffic misdemeanors usually involve creating a risk to human life or property. Most jurisdictions will consider the following to be traffic misdemeanors:
- Driving recklessly
- Driving without insurance
- Driving without a license
- Failing to stop at an accident scene
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI/DWI)
Some actions may be considered traffic misdemeanors even though they do not involve the operation of a moving vehicle. These are usually categorized under “disorderly conduct” and can include such offenses as obstructing traffic or playing one’s car radio too loudly.
What are the Penalties for Traffic Misdemeanors?
Being charged with a traffic misdemeanor generally results in the consequences of a fine and/or jail time. This can be anywhere from $100 to several hundreds of dollars, while jail time is usually limited to a period of one year maximum.
Many states may take additional steps when penalizing for a traffic misdemeanor. These can include the loss or suspension of driving privileges, and the towing or confiscation of the defendant’s motor vehicle.
Some violations that begin as traffic misdemeanors may be escalated to the level of a felony charge
. This can be the case if the violation involved repeat offenses, or if it resulted in death, great bodily injury or serious property damage. Felony charges involve higher fines and possible sentencing in a state prison facility.
Should I contact a lawyer for a Traffic Misdemeanor charge?
Traffic misdemeanors should not be taken lightly, as they will be reflected negatively in your criminal record. Hiring a lawyer might be necessary if the traffic violation requires a court appearance or trial. An experienced criminal lawyer can help explain your state’s traffic laws more clearly, and they can help you present your case before a court of law.
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Last Modified: 07-14-2014 11:16 AM PDT
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