The majority of speeding and moving violations are not classified as crimes and, therefore, the penalties will not include jail time. Speeding and moving violations are classified as infractions.
If an individual is convicted of a speeding or other type of moving violation, they will face only a fine and increased car insurance rates. The violation will appear only on the individual’s driving record and not on their criminal record.
There are, of course, exceptions to this rule. The laws governing speeding and moving violations may vary by state, county, and city, which makes it important to be informed of local laws.
Certain actions are violations in every state in certain circumstances, including:
- Speeding or traveling over the speed limit;
- Failure to yield, which is failing to give the right of way to another car that has the legal right to proceed first;
- Failing to stop, or not stopping at a stop sign or making a rolling stop, which means slowing but not fully stopping the car;
- Failing to signal a turn or when changing lanes;
- Dangerous left turn, for example, turning left when oncoming traffic is too close;
- Failure to obey traffic lights, such as running through a red light rather than stopping;
- Invalid registration sticker, meaning an individual’s vehicle registration has expired; and
- Reckless driving, which is driving that exhibits indifference to the safety and property of others. Distracted driving, such as driving while texting or eating, is the most common form of reckless driving.
In certain cases, a traffic offense may result in an individual being charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are criminal offenses that can be punished by up to 1 year in jail, a criminal fine, or both. A traffic offense may result in a criminal misdemeanor charge if the violation results in injury to other individuals or property.
Even if a violation results in only a near-miss, the individual may be charged with a misdemeanor. If an individual goes a certain number of miles per hour over the speed limit, it may result in a misdemeanor charge in some states.
Like other criminal offenses, an individual has the right to challenge misdemeanor traffic offenses.
What Types of Penalties Can You Face From a Traffic Ticket?
In most cases, traffic tickets are minor offenses that may turn serious in some situations. The penalties for a traffic ticket may include:
- Increases in insurance rates;
- Driver’s license point penalties and suspension; and
- Traffic school.
A traffic ticket fine may vary widely and will depend on the offense as well as the laws of each state. For example, in Georgia, the maximum fine for a first-time speeding ticket is $1000.
In contrast, a first-time speeding offender in Oregon will not pay more than $600. In many states, a fine will be doubled if the driver is speeding in a school zone.
A repeat offender will likely face more severe penalties, which may include jail time if aggravating factors are present. An example of an aggravating factor is being a repeat offender.
Many individuals opt to simply pay the fine. However, this could leave the violation on an individual’s driving record for around 3 years.
If an individual does not want to have this lasting penalty, they may be permitted to attend traffic school in addition to paying the fine. This will typically result in the violation not appearing on the individual’s driving record.
Will My Insurance Rate Go Up After a Traffic Ticket?
It is possible that getting a traffic ticket will raise an individual’s car insurance premiums. An insurance company will track an individual’s driving history using a point system similar to most states.
The insurance company will also determine an individual’s liability risk by examining their past driving indiscretions. Insurance companies may vary in terms of how they determine rates for individuals who pay fines or are found guilty of traffic violations.
Before paying a fine, attending traffic school or contesting a violation in court, it is important for an individual to determine whether a traffic violation on their record will increase their insurance premiums.
Will My License Be Suspended After a Traffic Ticket?
In general, an individual’s driver’s license will not be suspended for a couple of traffic violations. If, however, an individual has had 3 or more convictions in the past 3 to 5 years, it may be possible for their license to be suspended.
It is highly likely that an individual will lose their license for a period of time if they have prior convictions and are convicted of one of the following:
If an individual is facing a driver’s license suspension, it is a good idea for them to consult with an attorney.
Will I Have to Go to Traffic School?
The majority of states offer drivers a 6 to 8 hour traffic safety course in exchange for having a traffic violation removed from their driving record. It is important to note that when and how an individual can attend driving school will vary by jurisdiction, so it is important to be aware of the policies and procedures before enrolling.
In some states, an individual’s case will be dismissed with proof of completion of the course, while other states will require a fine payment up front and provide a deadline to complete the course.
Why Should I Fight a Speeding and Moving Violation?
There are many speeding and moving violations that may be worth contesting for several reasons, including:
- The fine for the violation is expensive;
- An individual will accumulate points on their driving record;
- An individual’s auto insurance premiums will go up;
- An individual’s license may be suspended if additional points are added to points they have already accumulated;
- An individual’s job requires them to have a clean driving record;
- An individual believes that they did not commit the violation with which they are charged.
One of the best reasons to contest a citation for a moving violation is to avoid adding points to an individual’s driving record if it results in losing their driver’s license. Additionally, if the individual’s job depends on having a clean driving record and alternatives such as traffic school are not available, they should consider hiring an attorney to avoid a conviction.
All of the reasons discussed above provide an individual with a strong incentive to fight a speeding or moving violation, whether on their own or with the assistance of an attorney.
Should I Consult an Attorney About My Traffic Ticket?
Yes, it is essential to have the assistance of a traffic ticket lawyer for any issues, questions, or concerns you may have related to a traffic citation, especially if you have a prior conviction. Suspension of a driver’s license is very serious and can affect many aspects of your life.
Your attorney can review your case, advise you of the laws in your state, and provide you with options regarding having the violation removed from your driving record, if available. Your attorney will also assist you with preparing a defense if you decide to contest the ticket in court as well as represent you when you appear.