Traffic Violation Law

What is Traffic Violation Law?

Traffic violation law covers any number of unlawful activities involving a motor vehicle. These laws deal with moving violations like drunk driving and speeding, as well as violations based on the condition or status of a vehicle, such as expired registration. State and local governments have enacted comprehensive motor vehicle codes setting forth the traffic laws in that jurisdiction. In some states, the department of motor vehicles assesses “points” against a driver based on the number of infractions in a given period of time. Too many points can result in an increase in insurance premiums, as well as suspension or revocation of driving privileges.

The agency in charge of enforcing a particular traffic rule will depend on the location of the traffic stop. Each local law enforcement agency has authority to issue citations in a certain geographical area, though these areas can overlap. For example, a person driving on a highway running through a city could be pulled over and issued a citation by an officer from the city police department, a deputy from the county sheriff’s office, or a trooper from the state highway patrol. Those who receive a traffic citation should inspect it carefully to ascertain the name and location of the court that will process the case, and whether a personal court appearance is required.

Common Moving Violations

Exceeding the speed limit is the most commonly issued traffic citation in the United States. While many drivers choose to simply pay the fine associated with the ticket, there are ways to avoid the points and other consequences. It may be possible to attend traffic school in exchange for having the ticket dismissed, reduced to fewer mph over the speed limit, or amended to a non-moving violation. Drivers who have been falsely accused of speeding can also insist on a trial. For commercial drivers or those who are at risk of losing their license as a consequence of too many points in a short time span, fighting the case at trial may be the best option.

Other common moving violations result from following too close (tailgating), neglecting to yield to emergency vehicles, driving too fast for road conditions, failing to maintain a single lane of travel (swerving), not wearing a seat belt, and not securing young passengers in a child safety seat. Driving with a suspended license is another common offense, as is driving without liability insurance. Talking on a cell phone is a relatively new, but common, traffic infraction. Similarly, failing to stop at a red light is cited with much greater frequency in recent years, due to the development of intersection surveillance cameras that automatically issue tickets to offenders.

Serious Traffic Offenses

Not all traffic violations are considered of equal importance in the eyes of the law. The seriousness of a violation generally reflects the potential harm that can result from the activity. For example, if a driver operates a vehicle with a broken license plate light, it is more difficult for a police officer to quickly identify the vehicle after dark. This creates an inconvenience for the officer, but it does not put other drivers or pedestrians at risk. Thus, driving with a broken license plate light is usually punished with a warning or a ticket that merely requires the equipment to be repaired.

But when a driver’s conduct rises to the level of placing the lives of others in jeopardy, the consequences escalate accordingly. Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is one example. Drivers convicted of even a single offense of DUI can face the real possibility of a jail sentence, as well as fines, substance abuse classes, community service, a suspension of driving privileges, and more. Reckless driving is another serious traffic offense. Law enforcement will charge reckless driving when someone drives far in excess of the speed limit (usually 20 mph or more over), or drives in a way that shows a clear disregard for the safety of others.

Defending a Traffic Violation Case

Accepting the unmitigated repercussions of a traffic offense is not always a viable option. This is especially true for people whose ability to make a living depends on a clean driving record. Fortunately, retaining a criminal attorney to defend a traffic ticket can lead to a significantly better outcome. An attorney will force the government to prove its case beyond a reasonable doubt, which is not always possible. Evidence and witnesses tend to disappear in the months that pass between the traffic stop and the time of trial. In fact, doing nothing more than hiring an attorney and insisting on a trial can lead a prosecutor to drop a case or offer a lenient plea bargain.

Hire a Lawyer Now

If you have been accused of violating a traffic law, you have nothing to lose by discussing the matter with a lawyer. Consultations in these types of cases are usually free. And by sharing the facts of your case with a professional, you can learn what it will take to defend your case successfully.


Know Your Rights!

Traffic Laws - US

  • American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA)

    The Law Enforcement Discipline deals with issues surrounding law enforcement and the promotion of traffic/highway safety. The Law Enforcement Discipline exists to promote highway safety and security within the motor vehicle administration community.

  • National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA)

    NHTSA was established by the Highway Safety Act of 1970 to carry out safety programs previously administered by the National Highway Safety Bureau. Specifically, the agency directs the highway safety and consumer programs established by the National Traffic and Motor Vehicle Safety Act of 1966, the Highway Safety Act of 1966, the 1972 Motor Vehicle Information and Cost Savings Act, and succeeding amendments to these laws.

  • Speed Management Safety - Federal Highway Administration

    Speeding—traveling too fast for conditions or in excess of the posted speed limits—is a factor in almost one-third of all fatal crashes and costs America approximately $27.7 billion dollars in economic costs each year. Speeding is a safety concern on all roads, regardless of their speed limits. Much of the public concern about speeding has been focused on high-speed Interstates. The Interstate System, however, actually has the best safety record of all roads and the lowest fatality rate of all road classes. Almost 50 percent of speeding-related fatalities occur on lower speed collector and local roads, which carry only 27.9 percent of the total vehicle miles traveled in the United States. Collector roads usually have legal speed limits of 55 mi/h or less. Speed limits on local roads are often 35 mi/h or lower.

  • Speeding Education, Public Information and Enforcement Policy

    State and local enforcement should focus on the types of drivers and situations where speeding has a significant impact on public safety. Speed enforcement must be complemented by focused public information and education campaigns. Research shows that compliance with, and support for, traffic laws can be increased through aggressive, targeted enforcement combined with vigorous public information and education program. This approach has been successful in addressing impaired driving, occupant protection, red-light running, and commercial motor vehicle safety issues. Public information and education also contribute to public support for speed management by increasing the awareness of the consequences of speeding.

  • State Traffic and Speed Laws

    Almost all states have laws defining a speed limit that is in effect when no limit is posted. This default speed limit is called the "statutory speed limit". Except as noted below it is the same as the maximum speed limit.

  • Tickets and Driving Schools by State

    At The Unofficial DMV Guide, we encourage you to make safe driving a priority. For your convenience, we've provided easy-to-follow details on how to find local traffic schools and defensive driving courses that may help you lessen the impact of too many traffic tickets. And, if you've recently received a traffic ticket, The Unofficial DMV Guide can tell you how to interpret the citation, help you find out how the ticket will affect your driving record and auto insurance rates, or advise how to fight the ticket if you believe you're not guilty of the offense.

  • Traffic Tickets - Wikipedia

    A traffic ticket is a summons and citation issued by police officers to motorists and other road users who fail to obey traffic laws. Traffic tickets generally come in two forms, citing a moving violation, such as exceeding the speed limit, or a non-moving violation, such as a parking ticket. Traffic tickets are generally heard in traffic court.

  • US Department of Transportation

    The mission of the Department is to: Serve the United States by ensuring a fast, safe, efficient, accessible and convenient transportation system that meets our vital national interests and enhances the quality of life of the American people, today and into the future.

Traffic Laws - Europe

  • Enforcement of Traffic Rules - European Commission - Transportation

    Enforcement of traffic rules means making sure that they are being applied. Different aspects or stages are part of enforcement: checks to find and pursue violations of traffic rules and sanctions imposed on violators of the rules. Sanctions can be imposed in different ways, for instance directly on the spot (e.g. on-the-spot-fines), automatically as a follow-up of checking violations (e.g. by automated speed cameras), by separate administrative decisions or by court decisions.

  • Road Safety Action Programme (2003-2010) - EU Legislation

    Of all modes of transport, transport by road is the most dangerous and the most costly in terms of human lives. For this reason, the Road Safety Action Programme (2003-2010) proposes a series of measures such as stepping up checks on road traffic, deploying new road safety technologies, improving road infrastructure and measures to improve users' behaviour. The ultimate objective is to halve the number of people killed on the roads by 2010.

  • Traffic Offences: MEPs for Effective Cross-border Enforcement - European Parliament

    At present, drivers committing an offence under the Highway Code in a Member State other than their own often avoid paying the penalty imposed on local drivers. The European Parliament approved legislation to ensure that drivers will be able to be identified and fined for offences they commit anywhere in the EU. Speeding, drink-driving, not wearing a seat belt and failing to stop at a red light should all be covered by the proposal.

Organizations Related to Traffic Laws

  • AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety

    The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety is dedicated to saving lives and reducing injuries on the roads. It is a not-for-profit, publicly-supported charitable educational and research organization. Since 1947, the Foundation has funded over 200 projects designed to discover the causes of traffic crashes, prevent them, and minimize injuries when they do occur. We have used this research to develop dozens of focused, high-impact educational materials for drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists and other road users.

  • National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD)

    The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (NCUTCD) or the "National Committee" is an organization whose purpose is to assist in the development of standards, guides and warrants for traffic control devices and practices used to regulate, warn and guide traffic on streets and highways. The NCUTCD recommends to the Federal Highway Administration (FHWA) and to other appropriate agencies proposed revisions and interpretations to the Manual on Uniform Traffic Control Devices (MUTCD) and other accepted national standards. NCUTCD develops public and professional awareness of the principles of safe traffic control devices and practices and provides a forum for qualified individuals with diverse backgrounds and viewpoints to exchange professional information.

  • National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances (NCUTLO)

    The National Committee on Uniform Traffic Laws and Ordinances is a private, non-profit membership organization dedicated to providing uniformity of traffic laws and regulations through the timely dissemination of information and model legislation on traffic safety issues.

Publications Related to Traffic Laws

  • Different Types of Traffic Violations

    Traffic violations are generally divided into two categories: parking violations and moving violations. Moving violations are the more serious of the two, carry stiffer penalties, and occur while the vehicle is in motion. Among moving traffic violations, speeding is the most common. If the driver's manner of speeding is also posing a threat to the lives of pedestrians or other traffic, he or she might also be charged with reckless endangerment. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are also traffic violations, as is driving a vehicle that is in unsafe condition —- for instance a vehicle with a broken windshield. In some states, using a cell phone while driving is illegal unless it is a "hands-free" style. Other traffic violations include not using a child's safety seat for small children and failing to fasten your safety belt.

Articles on Related to Traffic Law

  • Georgia's New "Texting" While Driving Law.
    What exactly is prohibited by Georgia's new statute and what are the consequences if you violate it?
  • Texting Accidents and Laws in Arizona
    Many states in the US have instituted laws against cell phone use while driving. This article discusses the dangers of using cell phones to send text messages while driving. Phoenix currently has laws in place banning text messaging while driving. This article discusses the potential for automobile accidents as a result of inattentive drivers using cell phones to send text messages while driving. This article also outlines the penalties involved if a person is caught texting while driving.
  • Studies Proving Accident Risks of Distracted Driving
    There’s always time to bring more attention to the problem of distracted driving. This is a subject that is not going to be beaten to death any time soon, not as long as more than 25% of all accidents are traced to distracted driving.
  • Is New York’s Fight against Distracted Driving Effective?
    New York passed legislation outlawing texting and e-mailing while driving.
  • Do Speeding Tickets Follow You from State to State?
    Drivers who get tickets while on vacation or driving in other states should know that infractions can affect their ability to drive at home, due to national driving databases.
  • Traffic Accidents on Nevada's I-15
    Interstate 15 (or I-15) has long been considered one of the most dangerous roads in the US. In a 2005 MSNBC Dateline report, 1-15 was listed as the most dangerous high-speed road while a recent MSN list dubbed the infamous roadway as one of the "Highways to Hell." Over a five year period, 173 people died while traveling on Highway 15.
  • New Rules for Teen Drivers in New York
    New laws that went into effect in February, New York teen drivers now face two new obstacles on their way to the road.
  • Driving With A Suspended License In New Jersey
    New Jersey law dictates very clearly that driving with a suspended license in their state comes with hefty fines and possible jail time. The New Jersey statute 39:3-40.1 states that driving under suspension is a punishable crime. The law also includes the offense of driving under vehicle registration suspension. There are two major categories of suspension. The first being a court ordered suspension and the second is a department of motor vehicles suspension.
  • Penalties for "Leaving the Scene of an Accident" in New Jersey
    An automobile accident can be a minor hindrance such as a fender bender or as serious as involving major injuries and fatalities. Regardless of the severity of an accident, in the state of New Jersey, it is a crime if a driver leaves the scene of an accident.
  • Distracted Drivers 2nd Most Common Cause of Accidents in North Carolina
    According to the North Carolina Department of Motor Vehicles (NCDOT), distracted drivers are the second most common cause of car crashes in the state behind speeding.
  • All Motor Vehicle Law Articles

    Articles written by attorneys and experts worldwide discussing legal aspects related to Motor Vehicles Law including: auto dealer fraud, automobile accidents, automotive, bus accidents, lemon law, motor vehicle accidents, motorcycle accident, railroad accidents, rollover accident, traffic violations, trucking accident.

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