Most speeding and moving violations are not considered crimes, so the penalties do not include jail time. Rather, they are only infractions. Conviction of speeding or other moving violations will carry a fine only and result in increased car insurance rates. However, it will appear only on a person’s driving record and not on their criminal record. There are exceptions, of course.
The laws for speeding and moving violations vary to some extent by state, county, and city, making it important to be informed of local laws. However, the following are violations in all states in certain circumstances:
- Speeding: Speeding, of course, is traveling in excess of the speed limit;
- Failure to Yield: Failure to yield is failing to give the right of way to another car that has the legal right to proceed first;
- Failing to Stop: Failing to stop is not stopping at a stop sign or making a “rolling stop”, i.e. slowing but not fully stopping one’s car;
- Filing to Signal a Turn or Lane Change: Yes, the law requires a driver to use their turn signals to signal a turn or a lane change;
- Dangerous Left Turn: An example of a dangerous left turn would be turning left when oncoming traffic is too close;
- Failure to Obey Traffic Lights: A failure to obey traffic lights is running through a red light rather than stopping;
- Invalid Registration Sticker: This would mean that a person’s vehicle registration has expired;
- Reckless Driving: Reckless driving is driving which exhibits indifference to the safety and property of others. Distracted driving, e.g. driving while texting or eating, is the most common form of reckless driving according to law enforcement agencies.
In some cases, a traffic offense might result in a person being charged with a misdemeanor, which is a criminal offense that can be punished by up to a year in jail, and/or a fine. Traffic offenses might bring a misdemeanor criminal charge if the violation results in injury to people or property. Even if the result of the violation is only a “near-miss,” it might be charged as a misdemeanor.
If a person is going a certain number of miles per hour over the speed limit, in some states, this might result in a misdemeanor criminal charge. As with any criminal offense, a person has a right to challenge a misdemeanor traffic offense.
How Can a Lawyer Help Me with My Traffic Ticket?
A lawyer can assist a person in possibly beating a traffic ticket case in various ways:
- Offer Advice: Contesting a traffic ticket is not the end goal, of course. A person wants to beat the ticket. A lawyer will gather all the facts of the situation before analyzing a person’s legal position. The term “legal position” is how the ticket might be resolved in a client’s favor;
- Negotiate a Resolution: If the driver is facing serious consequences, a lawyer may be able to negotiate less serious consequences with the prosecuting agency, usually a district attorney’s office;
- Represent the Client in Traffic Court: A lawyer will present a well-organized, more effective defense than a driver could probably present on their own;
- Dismiss the Ticket: A traffic ticket lawyer can argue on the client’s behalf and may be able to get the prosecuting authority to dismiss a ticket.
What are My Options When Issued a Speeding or Moving Violation?
A ticket typically will include a court date and time, and possibly the amount of the fine. Accepting a ticket is not the same as admitting that a person is guilty of the offense.
In some states, a person who has been ticketed for a moving violation will be given the option of attending a driving program or traffic school. When the program is complete, the speeding or moving violation is removed from the person’s record.
After a person has received a violation, their options include:
- Admit Guilt: Admitting guilt for the speeding or moving violation is generally done by entering a plea of guilty. A person can also plead no contest, which has the same effect. The only difference is that if a person pleads no contest, they are not saying they are guilty. Rather, they are saying that they do not wish to contest the charge. Whether a person pleads guilty or no contest, they pay the prescribed fine for the offense. This usually involves sending a check to an address designated on the citation. Or, it might be payable online;
- Contest the ticket: If a person wants to contest the ticket, they plead not guilty. Then in court, the person must challenge the evidence presented by the officer who issued the ticket. A person would do this by offering witness statements, photos of the area, and a persuasive argument as to how it is that the person did not commit the offense and the officer’s evidence is faulty and cannot be believed. If a person wants to contest the violation, the ticket usually includes directions on how to notify the court that a person wants a court hearing;
- Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer: If a person truly believes that they did not commit the violation, they can hire a traffic lawyer. A lawyer can try to get the ticket dismissed or can challenge the evidence of the officer. For example, if the officer caught the person speeding with a radar gun, a lawyer might be able to get the device tested to see if it was properly calibrated. This is the type of defense that an experienced lawyer might be able to mount;
- Attend Traffic School or Other Available Options for Avoiding the Offense: In states where traffic school is available, it usually works by requiring the ticketed person to pay the ticket and attend traffic school. In this way, the person avoids getting points on their driving record which can lead to increased auto insurance premiums and problems with their driver’s license.
- In states with point systems, if a person accumulates too many points on their driving record, they might lose their driver’s license or have trouble when the time to renew the license comes around. It is well worth the time and aggravation of attending traffic school, or the equivalent of it in the state where a person lives, in order to avoid accumulating points on one’s record.
Whatever a person decides to do, they need to do it promptly and within the deadlines specified on the ticket. If the ticket demands payment of a fine, a person should take action before the deadline for the payment of the fine in order to preserve their rights.
How Much Does a Traffic Ticket Lawyer Cost?
Many traffic ticket lawyers will charge an hourly rate to represent a person in court to fight a ticket for a moving violation. Others may charge a flat fee. In any event, a person should not hesitate to ask a lawyer in a straightforward manner what the fee is for hiring them.
Why Should I Fight a Speeding and Moving Violation?
Many speeding and moving violations may be worth fighting for the following reasons:
- The fine for the violation is expensive;
- A person will accumulate points on their driving record;
- A person’s auto insurance premiums will go up;
- A person’s license may be suspended if additional points are added to points they have already accumulated;
- A person’s job requires a clean driving record;
- A person believes that they did not commit the violation with which they are charged.
Of course, the best reason to contest a citation for a moving violation is to avoid adding points to one’s driving record, if it will result in the loss of the person’s driver’s license. In addition, if a person’s job depends on having a clean driving record and if alternatives such as traffic school are not available, a person may want to hire a lawyer to try to avoid conviction.
All of these reasons give a person a strong incentive to fight a speeding or moving violation whether on your own or with the help of an experienced traffic violation lawyer.
Do I Need a Lawyer?
If you have a traffic citation and are considering challenging it in court, consulting an experienced traffic violation lawyer would be the best way forward. An experienced lawyer will be able to explain your options, help build your case, and represent your best interests in court.