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Speeding and Traffic Ticket

Speeding and Moving Violations

In most cases, a legal violation which involves a traffic ticket is some type of speeding and moving violation. These types of violations typically occur when a motor vehicle is in motion, rather than when it is stationary.

Speeding and moving violations may involve issues including:

  • Speeding;
  • Driving recklessly or dangerously;
  • Driving while under the influence;
  • Exhibitions of speed;
  • Failure to follow traffic rules, for example, not stopping at a red light;
  • Racing; and
  • Various other violations.

Not all traffic court cases involve a speeding or moving violation. Common examples of non-moving traffic violations include:

  • A citation for an outdated license plate;
  • A citation for an outdated registration stickers;
  • Illegal parking; and
  • Keeping a non-operational motor vehicle parked on the street for too long of a period of time.

The majority of traffic tickets are considered citations. These citations will result in a small fine. There are, however, some violations which may result in misdemeanor traffic offenses or felony traffic offenses, especially if an individual is injured or killed.

There are numerous different types of traffic violations. The laws governing these violations may vary from state to state. A traffic misdemeanor often involves a risk to human life, safety, or property.

Traffic Ticket Fines

Typically, a traffic ticket is a minor offense that can turn serious in some circumstances. Penalties may include: fines, insurance rate hikes, driver's license point penalties and suspension, and traffic school.

Traffic ticket fines have a wide monetary range and are dependent on the offense and the laws of each state. For instance, the maximum fine in Georgia for a first-time speeding ticket is $1000, whereas a first time speeding offender in Oregon will pay no more than $600. In many states, fines may be doubled if the driver was in a school zone. Repeat offenders are likely to face stiffer penalties, which may include jail time in circumstances with aggravating factors, or when a driver is a repeat offender.

Many people opt for the easy option of paying the fine, however, doing so could leave the violation on a person's driving record for roughly three years. To get around this lasting penalty, going to traffic school in addition to paying the fine will usually mean the violation will not appear on your driving record.

Can I Fight a Traffic Ticket?

If an individual has received a citation for a traffic violation, it may be possible for them to fight the ticket. It will largely depend on what violation the citation is for. In some cases, an individual may have a defense to the citation, such as if they were avoiding a traffic accident by making an illegal turn.

There are several strategies which may be successful is fighting a traffic ticket, including:

  • Challenging the observations of the officer;
  • Mistake of fact conduct;
  • Legally justified conduct; and
  • Conduct to avoid harm.

An individual may be able to challenge the observations of the officer who wrote the ticket. If the individual may be able to provide witness statements, photos of the area, as well as diagrams of where their vehicle was in relation to the law enforcement officer's vehicle, their case will be stronger.

If an individual can show the court that they made an honest mistake, or a mistake of fact, the ticket or charge may be dismissed. For example, if a stop sign was obstructed or had been stolen, an individual's failure to stop ticket may be thrown out.

Another available defense may be legally justified conduct. If an individual can show that they were justified, a ticket may be dismissed, such as if they were slowing down in the left lane in order to make a left hand turn.

A court may dismiss an individual's traffic ticket if they can show that their actions were a direct result of attempting to avoid harm to themselves or others. For example, if an individual has to swerve across the double yellow lines in order to avoid hitting an individual riding a bicycle.

Although these are common defense strategies, it may still be difficult for an individual to have their traffic ticket dismissed. It can be very beneficial to have an attorney who is experienced in traffic court.

How Can I Decide Whether to Challenge a Ticket?

If an individual cannot decide whether or not to challenge a traffic ticket, they may wish to consult an attorney. It is important to determine what the exact charge is and refer to the law governing that charge.

Individuals may be surprised to learn that law enforcement officers may issue citations for violations which are not actually violations. In some cases, the law enforcement officer may not be up to date on the laws or simply do not realize that the citation they issued was not an application of the law.

The first step an individual should take is to check and see if the law applies to the situation. If law does not apply to the citation or ticket an individual received, it is clear that they may want to challenge the 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.

What are Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses?

A traffic offense, or traffic violation, occurs when a driver violates a state's motor vehicle laws or regulations. In some instances, a traffic offense or violation (such as a moving violation) is regarded as an infraction. An infraction is not a crime (felony or misdemeanor). More serious traffic offenses or violations are punishable as misdemeanors.

A misdemeanor is a criminal act that carries a punishment of up to a year in jail, and/or a fine. Traffic offenses are classified as misdemeanors when the offense results in injury to people or property, or when the offense does not result in such injury but constitutes a “near-miss.” Individuals have the right to challenge being charged with a misdemeanor traffic offense.

An individual challenges a traffic offense by appearing in court and making a defense against the charge. If the defense is unsuccessful, the individual will be convicted of the misdemeanor traffic offense. Misdemeanor traffic offenses are penalized based on several factors, including the severity of damage to property or people, and whether the convicted individual has a prior record of traffic convictions.

How are Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses Classified?

A traffic charge or citation is something issued by law enforcement. A traffic charge or citation is issued for a minor violation of traffic laws. Traffic charges are issued for minor acts such as not properly parallel parking, or failing to insert coins into a traffic meter. These infractions of the law are known as simple traffic violations. The violations are considered simple because they do no result in injury to property or people.

When an individual is cited, the individual is given a traffic ticket. The traffic ticket states the amount of money that must be paid for committing the infraction. Payment of the fine is all that is required. The citation generally does not go on a person's criminal record. An example of a citation is a speeding ticket. Speeding tickets generally do not go on a person's criminal record. This is so, unless the speeding is significantly above the speed limit.

Many states punish excessive speeding (11 or more miles per hour over the speed limit) as misdemeanors. Misdemeanors go on one's criminal record.

Traffic offenses that are more serious in nature are categorized as either misdemeanor traffic offenses or felony traffic offenses. An example of a misdemeanor traffic offense is a collision with another vehicle due to a specific violation. An example of a felony traffic offense is a drunken driving episode that results in the death of another person. Conviction for these offenses, or traffic convictions, are punished as any other crime would be.

Punishments include jail time, fines, restitution (reimbursement) to a victim for loss of property, and potential suspension of revocation of one's license. Criminal traffic offenses become part of one's criminal record.

Both minor infractions and criminal traffic offenses can go one one's driving record. Most states use a points-based system as a way of removing someone's driving privileges. Under these systems, different infractions and offenses have a point value. When the infraction or offense is committed, “points” are assessed on a person's license. If an individual accumulates a certain number of points, a license can be suspended or revoked.

Once an individual accumulates points, the points come off the license in one of two ways. One way is through the passage of time. State laws require that certain points be removed from the driving record after a period of time, such as six months or a year. Individuals may also attend driver education courses, at the completion of which points may be reduced or eliminated.

What Types of Actions are Considered Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses?

Examples of misdemeanor traffic offenses include:

  • Driving recklessly. Reckless driving occurs when someone operates a vehicle in such a manner as to show a flagrant disregard for the safety of others and their property. A reckless driver is one who drives knowing that their driving behavior carries a high risk of injuring someone or damaging something. The person nonetheless continues driving recklessly.

Misdemeanor examples also include:

  • Driving while intoxicated by alcohol.
  • Driving while under the influence of prescription drugs.
  • Driving while under the influence of illegal narcotics.
  • Damaging another vehicle or injuring a person and then leaving before the police arrive (“hit and run”).
  • Driving with a suspended license, revoked license, or no license.
  • Driving without title or registration to a vehicle.
  • Driving without having auto insurance.

In most states, speeding tickets that are from one to ten miles above the speed limit are minor traffic offenses punishable by a citation. Speeding at a rate that is 11 miles per hour above the speed limit or more can be punished as a misdemeanor.

What are Some Common Penalties for Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses?

Speeding convictions carry different punishments, depending on the severity of the speeding and the state in which the speeding is committed.

For example, in New York, the speeding laws are relatively strict. A speeding conviction is punished as follows:

  • Speeding of one to ten miles per hour (mph) over the speed limit carries a penalty of anywhere in between $45 to $150, three driver penalty points, and possible jail time of up to fifteen days.
  • Speeding of over ten and less than 30 mph above the speed limit carries a fine of $90 to $300, and possible jail time of up to 30 days. Speeding 11-20 miles over the limit results in assessment of 4 points. Speeding 21-30 mph above the speed limit results in assessment of six points
  • Speeding of more than 30 mph over the speed limit carries a fine of anywhere from $180 to $600, and possible jail time of up to 30 days. Speeding of 31-40 mph over the limit results in assessment of eight points. Speeding of over 40 mph over the limit results in assessment of 11 points.

The above fines, points,, and jail time are for first convictions. Second convictions carry greater penalties in terms of fines, jail time, and points. Most states penalizes second offenses more harshly than first offenses. Traffic offense lawyers are familiar with state motor vehicle laws and penalties for their violation.

As such, traffic offense lawyers can assist individuals with sentencing. An individual, with the aid of a traffic offense lawyer, can negotiate a plea bargain with a prosecutor. This is the case in whatever jurisdiction plea bargaining is allowed. Plea bargaining is not allowed in all jurisdictions. The city of New York, for example, does not allow plea bargaining. Plea bargaining can result in lesser fines, a lower point assessment, and jail time.

Are there Any Criminal Defenses for Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses?

An individual charged with a misdemeanor traffic offense can raise defenses to the crime. One common defense is the defense of necessity. With this defense, the person who is charged argues that the circumstances necessitated the violation of the law. For example, if a person in the driver's vehicle requires immediate emergency medical attention (e.g., is pregnant, or has sustained a life-threatening injury), the driver can claim the speeding was committed out of necessity.

Another commonly asserted defense is the defense of coercion (sometimes called “duress”). Someone charged with speeding can raise this defense by showing that the speeding was necessary for the person to avoid bodily harm. Imagine a scenario where a bank robber steals cash from a bank. The robber carries a gun and demands that you allow him entry into your vehicle. Once the robber is inside, the robber demands that you drive at an excessive rate of speed, threatening you with severe injury or death if you do not comply. In such circumstances, you can raise the defense of coercion. 

What is a Felony Traffic Offense?

There are different classifications of traffic offenses, depending on their seriousness. Most traffic offenses are classified as minor infractions and result in a traffic ticket and/or a small fine. There are, however, some more serious traffic violations that are classified as misdemeanors and felonies.

Felony traffic offenses, also known as felony traffic violations, occur when a traffic offense results in injuries to an individual or destruction of property. The most common types of felony traffic offenses are DUI related, or related to driving under the influence of alcohol and/or drugs.

What Types of Traffic Violations are Considered Felonies?

Felonies are serious traffic offenses that are generally considered to be the most serious crimes in any jurisdiction. Which traffic offenses are considered felonies varies by jurisdiction and state. However, most jurisdictions consider the following traffic violations as felonies:

  • Vehicular homicide and/or manslaughter;
  • Repeat and/or multiple DUI convictionsDUI ;
  • Other repeat offenses, including repeatedly driving without a license;
  • Some types of reckless Driving, including racing and/or other violations that cause injury and/or property damage;
  • Leaving an accident scene, also known as hit and run, especially if the accident involves a collision with another vehicle causing bodily injuries and/or property damage; and/or
  • Fleeing from law enforcement.

In some states, a traffic offense may be categorized as “aggravated” or “gross” misdemeanors. This categorization means that, although the offense is a misdemeanor, it may result in harsher penalties similar to those of felonies.

Although an individual cannot receive a felony speeding ticket, a driver may be charged with a felony if their speeding leads to a significant injury and/or death of another. Driving over 100 miles per hour is likely to result in large fines and points on your driving record, if the state uses that system. Some states, including California and Oregon, have higher fines for 100 miles per hour violations and driver's may face license suspension depending on the circumstances.

What are the Consequences of being Convicted of a Traffic Felony?

A felony is a crime that, if an individual is convicted, is punishable by a prison sentence of over one year. In general, traffic felonies usually include a monetary fine as well as a prison sentence. Fines can range from $500 to thousands of dollars depending on the circumstances and the jurisdiction.

A traffic felony may negatively impact a driver in many ways, including:

  • Suspension and/or permanent loss of a driver's license;
  • Driver retraining and/or suspension;
  • Adding points to a driver's license history;
  • Insurance premiums increase;
  • A loss of citizen's privileges, including voting and/or being allowed to teach in a professional setting;
  • Towing and/or impounding of the car used in the commission the felony;
  • Being prohibited from owning firearms;
  • A permanent criminal record;
  • If convicted of a DUI, an individual may be required to install a breathalyzer in their vehicle; and/or
  • A life sentence in prison in jurisdictions with a “three strikes” felony rule.

It is important to note that some traffic crimes that are usually charged as misdemeanors may be increased to a felony charge, especially if the offense has been repeated more than once.

What Happens After You are Charged with a Felony Traffic Offense?

If an individual is criminally charged with a felony traffic offense, they will be read their Miranda rights. These rights state that any statements made by an individual during a custodial interrogation by law enforcement and/or a government agent may not be used against them unless they have been read their rights.

These rights must be invoked immediately upon being taken into custody and/or arrested. The Miranda rights warning reads:

    You have the right to remain silent. Anything you say can and will be used against you in a court of law. You have the right to an attorney. You have the right to have an attorney present during questioning. If you cannot afford an attorney, one will be appointed to you.

The exact wording of the rights may differ by jurisdiction, but includes all components.

After being arrested, a defendant is required to appear in court for an arraignment hearing. An arraignment hearing is a court hearing in which the defendant must appear in criminal court. They will be read the charges against them, advised of their rights, and asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty. If an individual fails to appear for an arraignment, the judge may issue a warrant for their arrest and/or suspend their driving privileges.

If the defendant pleads not guilty, they have the right to a trial by judge or a trial by jury and to be represented by an attorney. If they cannot afford an attorney, the state will appoint one to represent them. If they are convicted, they may be sentenced to imprisonment as well as any of the following consequences:

  • Ordered to pay fines;
  • Ordered to pay court costs; and/or
  • Have points added to their driving record.

Are There Any Defenses to Felony Traffic Charges?

Yes, there are defenses available to felony traffic charges. If an individual is not read their Miranda rights, any statements made during an interrogation will be inadmissible in court.

Additionally, the defendant may argue that there was a lack of probable cause for their arrest. Probable cause is the reasonable belief that an individual has committed a crime or will commit a crime. A law enforcement officer must have evidence to support an arrest, not simply a hunch or gut feeling that a crime has occurred.

Other defenses may include arguing that an individual did not commit the offense. A defendant may also argue that the law enforcement officer stopped their car for no legitimate reason.

Do Felony Traffic Offenses Go Away?

It may be possible to have some criminal convictions expunged from an individual's record. Record expungement is a legal process in which an individual's criminal record is treated as if it no longer exists. This may be helpful when applying for a job or housing.

The rules and requirements for expungement vary greatly from state to state. It is usually easier to expunge minor crimes and juvenile records. Some states, however, do permit felony expungementsfelony .

Generally, specific criteria must be met prior to petitioning the court for an expungement. Depending on the jurisdiction, these may include:

  • Completion of a waiting period after the conviction, the length of which varies by state;
  • Meeting the terms of a conviction, including serving jail time, completing probation, and/or the payment of fines and/or restitution;
  • Evidence of no subsequent criminal charges or convictions; or
  • Evidence of rehabilitation and contribution to society, which can be through employment, education, and/or volunteer work.

Once an individual meets their jurisdiction's eligibility criteria, they can file a petition with the court for an expungement. Usually, this petition is filed in the same court where the criminal case occurred. Depending on the jurisdiction, an individual may have to attach information to the petition, such as a certified copy of their criminal record.

A traffic offense lawyer can help with this process and advise an individual what criteria need to be met in their state prior to filing the petition. A lawyer can also assist an individual with filing their expungement petition. 

Will My Insurance Rate Go Up After a Traffic Ticket?

It is possible that a traffic ticket will raise your car insurance premiums. Insurance companies track your driving history through a point system that most states use, and determine your liability risk through your past driving indiscretions. Insurance companies vary in terms of how they determine rates for people who pay fines or are found guilty of traffic violations. Before you pay your fine, attend traffic school, or contest the violation in court, find out whether a traffic violation on your record will increase your insurance premiums.

Will My License Be Suspended After a Traffic Ticket?

Generally, your license will not be suspended for a couple of traffic violations. If you have had three or more convictions in the last three to five years, it is possible for your license to be suspended. If you are charged with reckless driving, driving under the influence, or hit and run driving, and also have prior convictions, it is highly likely that you will lose your license or a period of time. If you are facing a license suspension, it is a good idea to consult an attorney.

Will I Have to Go to Traffic School?

Most states offer drivers a six to eight hour traffic safety course in exchange for having the violation removed from their driving record. Jurisdictions vary on how and when you can attend traffic school, so be sure you know the policies and procedures before enrolling. Some states will dismiss your case with proof of completion, while others require a fine payment up front, and a deadline to complete the course.

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.

How Can a Lawyer Help Me with a Traffic Charge?

Yes, it is important to hire an experienced traffic ticket attorney for any driving offense. It is even more important if it involves a misdemeanor or felony charge. These charges are very serious and may result in life-long consequences if convicted. A lawyer will review your case, determine if any defenses are available to you, and represent you during court proceedings, if necessary.

Call our office today at 212-994-7777 or complete the convenient online contact form to set up a consultation.