A traffic violation is a breach of the traffic laws established by individual states. A traffic violation may be considered an infraction or an offense, depending on the state and the nature of the wrongdoing. An infraction is a civil traffic violation that results in a fine and a surcharge, whereas as an offense is a more serious traffic violation. A traffic offense is criminal and may result in fines and jail time. When a person commits a traffic violation, a police officer, highway patrol, sheriff, or other authority will give the offender a citation.
A citation is an order to appear in court at a later date. When a citation is issued for a traffic violation, the suspect is not typically taken into custody. The citation will list the date and time that the suspect must later appear in court. The following are common traffic violation offenses: traveling at excessive or unsafe speeds, traveling too slow, operating a motorcycle on a restricted highway, unsafe passing, improper traffic maneuvers, racing, failure to yield to a pedestrian, reckless or careless driving, failure to obey traffic signal, failure to obey an officer, and more.
When you receive a citation for a traffic violation, there are typically two ways to respond. For a civil traffic violation, you usually have the choice to pay the pre-determined penalty stated on the traffic violation citation or you can appear in court on the specified date and time. If you go to court for a traffic violation, you can plead guilty and pay the fee, or you may plead not guilty and be scheduled for a final hearing. At a final hearing you are innocent until proven guilty beyond a reasonable doubt.
A civil traffic violation hearing will take place before a judge or magistrate and the defendant does not have the right to a jury trial. The officer who issued the traffic violation citation must be present at the final hearing in most cases. The are a number of rights and protections guaranteed to the defendant in a traffic violation case, such as the right to call witnesses, the right to remain silent, the right to a fair and speedy trial and others that can be discussed further with a legal professional.
The laws governing a criminal traffic violation case are different than those for a civil traffic violation. For traffic offenses like careless or reckless driving, or driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI/DWI) the defendant will benefit greatly from the professional services of a qualified attorney who can protect and maximize their legal interests.
For any traffic violation conviction, the department of motor vehicles can add points to your record which can negatively affect your insurance and your driving privileges. There are often options like traffic school that and reduce or eliminate the points added to your record for a traffic violation. When points are added for a traffic violation, this information, by law, can be shared with any other state thereby affecting your rights in those places. If you would like more information about traffic violation laws, please contact us to speak with an experienced attorney in your area.
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