Traffic Ticket Law
What is Traffic Ticket Law?
Traffic ticket law refers to the rules governing the operation of motor vehicles on public roads. The purpose of these laws is to deter unsafe driving, promote efficiency on the roadways, and to raise revenue. Law enforcement agencies from all levels of government enforce traffic laws within their jurisdictions. The term ďticketĒ refers to the written citation issued to offenders at the time of the violation. In more serious cases, however, the prosecuting attorney may file charges in lieu of a citation.
Common Infractions and Penalties
Violations can be classified as either moving or non-moving. Moving violations, as the name suggests, are traffic tickets for acts or omissions by the driver while the vehicle is in motion. Examples include speeding, failure to stop at a traffic signal, and drunk driving. Non-moving violations are issued for things like improper parking or allowing a vehicleís registration to lapse. Tickets for broken or missing equipment also fall into this category.
Criminal penalties for traffic violations range from a verbal warning to prison time, depending on the severity of the offense, and whether the driver has committed the same offense in the past. Equipment tickets can usually be resolved by repairing the vehicle and then having it inspected by a police officer. Other common violations, like speeding, require the driver to submit payment to the court based on a fee schedule. For more serious offenses, a court appearance is required during which a judge will decide the penalty.
Traffic tickets can also result in civil penalties. The most common example is when the state department of transportation takes action to suspend, revoke, or permanently cancel a violatorís driving privileges. This can occur based on a single infraction, such as DUI, or it can result from an accumulation of demerit points for multiple infractions of less-serious driving laws. Either way, the driver will be afforded the opportunity to contest the penalty in an administrative proceeding.
Negotiating a Settlement
Especially for those accused of violating traffic laws that carry significant fines or jail sentences, deciding whether to admit fault or contest the charges is not an ďall or nothingĒ proposition. A great deal of middle ground exists for drivers willing to take some degree of responsibility. Prosecutors face heavy demands on their time, and they are often willing to reduce charges or agree to a lenient sentence in order to resolve a case quickly.
To successfully negotiate the settlement of a traffic ticket, drivers must understand the concept of leverage. In this context, leverage refers to bargaining power. And what is it that drivers can offer to a prosecuting attorney in exchange for favorable treatment? Drivers can agree to waive their right to a trial and plead guilty or ďno contest.Ē Prosecutors are always interested in avoiding trial because it conserves the resources of their staff and law enforcement.
It is critical to have the terms of a plea bargain agreed upon before a driver gives up the right to a trial. Once a guilty or no contest plea is entered, a driverís leverage is gone. While a driver might attempt to contact a prosecutor directly, it is wise to hire a defense attorney for this purpose. Prosecutors will make time to speak with an attorney, particularly one with whom they are familiar. Also, the fact that a driver is represented by counsel gives the prosecutor even more incentive to avoid trial, as it increases the likelihood of defeat.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket in Court
If the driver is unwilling to accept the prosecutorís settlement terms, or in situations where the driver has been falsely accused, it will be necessary to insist on a trial. Speeding tickets and other relatively minor infractions are typically heard by a judge, while DUI, reckless driving, and other such cases may be heard by a jury. Most trials can be concluded in a day. Both sides are allowed to offer testimony from witnesses and exhibits such as photographs and accident reports.
With respect to trial strategy, drivers will need a coherent theory that demonstrates either: 1) the true version of events is different than alleged, or 2) even if the alleged facts are accurate, the driverís conduct does not meet the required elements of the violation. Throughout the trial, the goal will be to cast doubt on the prosecutionís case and to present an alternative explanation of why the driver was mistakenly pulled over and issued a citation.
Benefits of Hiring an Attorney
Even minor traffic violations can have drastic consequences, especially for drivers who cannot afford an increase in their insurance rates, or who depend on their driving privileges to earn a living. If you are concerned about the effect a ticket will have on your life, contact an attorney to discuss your options.
Know Your Rights!
Articles on HG.org Related to Traffic Ticket Law
- What Is Aggravated DUI?Aggravated DUI is a second type of "Driving Under the Influence of Alcohol" charge (DUI-DWI). Since an important 1964 Study from Grand Rapids, Michigan, the National Highway Traffic Administration has pushed all state legislatures to ADD a new, more punitive category of drunk driving offense, that is typically called aggravated DUI.
- Resolving a Red-Light Camera TicketCaught driving through red lights is a problem for many drivers in various states, but sometimes the camera catches the wrong person and may send the ticket to the driver in front of or behind the true culprit. It is important to seek a resolution to these concerns that protect the rights of each driver on the road.
- Challenging Your Traffic Ticket in CourtWhen a single ticket or accumulated traffic tickets are serious enough that a lawyer becomes necessary, it is important to challenge it or them through the local courts. By attempting to mitigate the damage, it is possible to reduce the payments necessary to resolve the traffic citation matter and prevent further consequences such as points and license suspension.
- How Many Points Leads to SuspensionIt is when accruing traffic violations that points often add or subtract from the driverís license if the state participates in the pointsí system. Knowing how much will lead to a suspension of the license is important for the driver, but the amount may differ based on the location around the United States he or she resides in or drivers through.
- Tips to Fight a Speeding TicketMany people have gone through the experience of being pulled over for suspicion of speeding. If you have received a ticket, you may be able to fight it to prevent it from causing your insurance rates to be increased. Some ways that you may be able to fight a speeding ticket include:
- Moving Violations That Add Points to Your Driving RecordMost states institute some type of point system to regulate residentsí driving privileges within the state. For each moving violation, they may accumulate points. After so many points, their license may be suspended or revoked. These systems are used to monitor the driving habits of licensed drivers and to regulate safety by removing dangerous drivers from the roadway.
- What to do with a Toll Ticket in FloridaIn some states, toll locations provide faster access to the interstate and freeway system through a ticketing placard or sticker with internet access for renewal or payment. When living in Florida, it is possible to pass through these stations without tossing in money, and a ticket is sent to the person through the mail for payment later.
- Various Types of Traffic TicketsMoving violations lead to traffic tickets that need a resolution before the deadline expires or the driver will face additional penalties to include possible jail time. While some states may have specific tickets, the general ones that a driver may find himself or herself receiving usually have a listing online or at local law enforcement departments.
- Steer Clear of These Traffic Ticket MistakesThere are common mistakes that many drivers make when in traffic or when parking, and it important to know which moving and nonmoving violations and mistakes should remain avoided at all costs. Some of the issues that these problems cause could severely increase fines and other penalties depending on the state and how serious the action.
- Length of Time that Points Stay on Your Driving RecordThe point system enforced in some states may keep so many points on a personís driverís license, but if he or she drives through another state without this system, he or she may not need to worry. The length these points remain could vary depending on the insurance or state laws and guidelines and the circumstances of the ticket.
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