Traffic law is probably the branch of law that most people are highly likely to have to deal with multiple times in their lifetimes as thousands of traffic tickets are given out every day to traffic violators. Traffic violations can result in everything from petty fines to being stripped of your privilege to drive a car and keep a driving license. Therefore, it is important that you inform yourself about the different kinds of penalties that you could face as a motorist. Although many individuals don’t consider traffic tickets much more than a nuisance, they are still considered to be criminal offenses and the penalties for certain infractions can be quite harsh. Therefore, the subject should be taken seriously.
In this article we will give you a comprehensive outline of what the different categories and types of traffic tickets are, the penalties that a person who receives these tickets can face and whether it is possible to get out of having to face these penalties.
Categories of traffic tickets
Specific traffic laws are determined by the jurisdiction of the state and locality in which you are present when the violation occurs. Depending on the violation, you may be given a ticket, and the penalties can vary to a great degree. In general, traffic tickets can be divided into three categories.
• City Ordinance Violations
This type of violation is usually discovered by the authorities through a photographic evidence enforcement system that helps identify and locate traffic laws being broken. For example, you park your car somewhere you weren’t supposed to and the government gains evidence of this through a city photo enforcement system. Insurance companies don’t usually have access to information about these violations and they don’t come up on your record.
• Civil Infraction
These tickets have the potential to culminate in a court hearing, but these hearings are usually optional. In most cases, the hearing can be avoided if you pay a fine. This type of ticket is most used in cases such as speeding, driving past a stop sign and other common driving offenses. Unlike city ordinance violations, these kinds of tickets can show up on a record and can result in points added to your driving record.
• Traffic Misdemeanor
This is the most serious out of all three categories and has harsh repercussions associated with guilty findings such as revocation of the driver’s licenses, community service, jail time and hefty fines. An infraction like this can also go on your criminal record which can be viewed by insurance companies, potential employers and others. These types of tickets are often given out for excessive speeding, reckless driving and DUI.
Common Types of Traffic Tickets
The types of traffic tickets most commonly handed out by law enforcement include:
You can receive a parking ticket for a number of different reasons. If you park illegally in a loading zone or a spot reserved for the handicapped, if you park too far from the curb, if you park with your car facing the wrong way or if you fail to pay your parking meter, you can be the recipient of a parking ticket.
Speeding tickets are exceedingly common moving violations. You can become the recipient of a speeding ticket for even moving one mile above the designated speed limit. Furthermore, you may also receive a speeding ticket if you are moving at the usual designated speed limit, but the circumstances at the time of the violation called for reduced speed, such as bad weather.
You can become the recipient of a ticket if you run a red light or drive past a stop sign without pausing or stopping for an adequate period.
- Driving Without Insurance
Most states in the USA require drivers to carry insurance (at least liability coverage in most states). Not doing so is a violation and being in an accident without insurance has more severe consequences.
- Driving Without a License
Driving is considered a privilege, not a right. In order to earn this privilege, you must first acquire a driver’s license. Driving without a license or without a valid license can get you a ticket. It is also not enough to keep the license at home; you are required by law to have a valid license on your person whenever you are driving.
Distracted driving refers to the act of partaking in any activity that distracts you from the road while you are operating a vehicle. This includes actions like using your cell phone, as well as eating or reading while driving. The increase in cell phone users in recent years has prompted state governments to increase the punishments for distracted driving and law enforcement to be more vigilant for drivers who may be driving while distracted.
Reckless driving refers to driving in a manner that displays a willful or wanton disregard for the safety of others. This includes driving on the wrong side of the road, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and other behavior that puts other motorists and pedestrians at risk.
- Leaving the scene of an accident
Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime that can result in far greater consequences than those of the accident itself. The case is usually worse if the incident involves an injury to the other party.
Minimizing the consequences of a ticket
If you want to minimize the consequences of a traffic ticket, but you don’t have the means or the time to fight it in, court then you might have several options depending on the seriousness of your violation and the laws of the state and locality where the violation took place. Certain jurisdictions allow drivers to attend and complete defense driving courses as an alternative to receiving the ticket or having to pay the fines and other penalties associated with that ticket. Tickets for equipment violations might be revoked or have their fines reduced if you show proof that you have fixed the equipment in question.