Many traffic offenses that are non-dangerous or are just driving violations are called infractions. However, in some cases, traffic violations become misdemeanors because of the seriousness of the violation. In most states, a traffic violation becomes a misdemeanor if it:
- The traffic violation causes injury to a person
- The traffic violation causes damage to property
- The traffic violation creates a real threat of injury to a person or threat to destruction of property
Misdemeanor traffic offenses also differ from traffic infractions because they carry harsher penalties. Some misdemeanor traffic offenses can carry fines of up to $10,000 and could also involve jail time depending on the severity of the crime and the amount of damage or injury involved.
How Are Misdemeanor 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, if traffic offense is more serious than the offense can lead to misdemeanor or even felony charges. These are considered criminal offenses and usually involve a trial and other prolonged legal consequences.
What Types of Actions Are Considered Traffic Misdemeanor Offenses?
- Driving recklessly
- Driving without insurance
- Driving without a license
- Failing to stop after a accident (hit and run)
- Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol (DUI/DWI)
What Are the Penalties for Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses?
Many states may take additional steps when penalizing for a misdemeanor traffic offense. These can include the loss or suspension of driving privileges, and the towing or confiscation of the defendant’s motor vehicle. The court may also impose additional penalties such as enrollment in a substance abuse treatment program if alcohol was involved in the violation.
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.