A serious auto crime is when a person drives a motor vehicle in a reckless and dangerous fashion or uses a motor vehicle to commit another type of crime such as robbery, DUI, or hit and run. Serious auto crime violations carry bigger punishments and even jail time if convicted.

What is the Difference Between a Serious Auto Crime and a Traffic Violation?

A serious auto crime typically carries a heavier sentence than a traffic violation. Such crimes usually involve intent to cause injury, although vehicular manslaughter is an exception. Serious auto crimes violations 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. 

Traffic violations are typically a result of negligence. Such violations can be treated as misdemeanors, with only minor fines. Many traffic offenses that are non-dangerous or are just driving violations are called infractions.

What are Examples of Serious Auto Crimes?

  • Vehicular Manslaughter: person who while driving a vehicle unintentionally but unlawfully kills another human being – usually vehicular manslaughter results from some sort of negligence or reckless conduct on the part of the driver.
  • Carjacking: type of robbery, which involves the theft of a motor vehicle by using force or threat of force – often the threat of force in a carjacking is a firearm.
  • Grand Theft Auto: someone steals a vehicle without the owner being present – the theft is not just for joyriding, but also for total possession of the vehicle.
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident, or a Hit and Run: after an accident, the driver fails to stay and exchange contact information in violation of the law.
  • Refusing to Stop for a Police Officer: the driver of a motor vehicle fails to pull over when requested by a police officer.
  • Vehicle Burglary: entering a vehicle to steal something out of it. Vehicular burglaries are very common and often underreported.
  • Vehicle Vandalism: any conduct that involves defacing or ruining the worth of a vehicle.

What are The Punishments For Committing a Serious Auto Crime?

There are often severe consequences if you are convicted of any of the above serious auto crimes. All of these crimes carry a strong possibility of imprisonment and a significant amount of fines. In the case of carjacking, if the person threatened dies as a result of the carjacking, the death penalty may be imposed in some states. Some common consequences for serious crime auto violations are:

  • Heavy fines;
  • Imprisonment in jail or prison;
  • Loss of drivers license;
  • Suspension of drivers license;
  • Probation of over a year;
  • Community service; and/or
  • Restitution paid to the victim.

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Do I Need a Lawyer?

If you are accused of a Serious Auto Crime, contact a criminal defense attorney immediately. These are serious crimes that can drastically affect your future, and a qualified lawyer can help explain your rights, build your case, and represent your best interests in court.