Most traffic violations are considered to be minor infractions resulting in a small fine or a traffic ticket. However, more serious traffic violations are listed as misdemeanors and some are considered felonies. A felony traffic offense usually means that some type of great bodily injury or serious property damage has resulted from the traffic violation. DUI-related charges (driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs) are the most common type of felony traffic offense.
What Types of Traffic Violations Are Considered Felonies?
Felonies are usually considered to be the most serious crimes in any jurisdiction. Most states will vary in terms of what types of traffic offenses are considered felonies. However, most jurisdictions will consider the following actions to be felonies:
- Vehicular homicide
- Repeat or multiple DUI convictions
- Other repeat offenses such as repeatedly driving without a license
- Certain types of “hit and run” traffic offenses
Some states may label serious traffic offenses as “aggravated” or “gross” misdemeanors. This means that, although they are considered misdemeanors, they may result in severe penalties that are similar to felony punishments.
What Are the Consequences of Being Convicted of a Traffic Felony?
By definition a felony means that the crime is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year. Traffic felonies will almost always include the addition of a monetary fine on top of the prison sentence. The fine can be anywhere from $500 to several thousands of dollars, depending on the severity of the case.
Traffic felonies can also negatively impact a person in the following ways
- Suspension or complete loss of driving privileges
- Loss of citizen’s privileges such as voting or being allowed to teach in a professional setting
- Towing or impounding of the car used during the felony
- Prohibition on the ownership of firearms
- Permanent mark on one’s criminal record
- Life sentence in prison in jurisdictions that have a “three strikes” felony rule
Also, some traffic crimes that start out as misdemeanors may lead to felony charges, especially when the offense has been repeated several times.
Should I Hire a Lawyer for a Felony Traffic Offense?
Felony charges are very serious and should never be taken lightly. If you are involved in a traffic offense, it is advisable to contact an experienced criminal law attorney. Many lawyers specialize in traffic offenses and will be able to help you prepare your case. They will also be able to keep you informed of any changes to your state’s traffic regulations.