Driving-related offenses range in severity and are categorized as infractions misdemeanors and felonies. State laws vary from classifying, processing, and penalizing driving-related offenses. Also, traffic crimes are classified and penalized by the particular jurisdiction’s legislation, the offender’s previous convictions, and whether the offense involved injuries, death, or damage to property.
Traffic Infractions The vast majority of driving-related crimes are categorized as infractions (also called “violations” or “civil infractions”-RRB-. A traffic infraction is the least serious traffic offense and is defined as an act or omission that’s illegal by legislation but isn’t a crime. Common samples of infractions include:
Speeding Failing to stop or yield Failing to signal Operating a vehicle without the proper lighting, and seatbelt violations. Strict Liability Traffic infractions are liability crimes, meaning a motorist can be convicted of the infraction regardless of intent. For example, demonstrating a motorist exceeded the posted speed limit is enough to get a conviction–whether the motorist understood he or she was speeding is irrelevant.
Moving and Nonmoving Violations In many jurisdictions, traffic infractions are further categorized as moving and nonmoving violations. Moving violations are more severe than nonmoving violations. Running and speeding a red light are examples of moving violations. Nonmoving violations include crimes related to faulty equipment and parking on the vehicle.
Court Procedures In many jurisdictions, traffic infractions are prosecuted in traffic courts, where the processes are less formal than in criminal courts. A motorist charged with a traffic infraction generally has many choices for resolving the issue. Most states make it possible for motorists to avoid a court appearance by pleading guilty and paying the fine by mail or on-line. Also, drivers that plead not guilty should appear in court to get a bench trial (trial by judge).
Penalties A traffic infraction may ’t result in jail time. Potential penalties include nice and demerit points on the motorist’s driving history. Accumulating a certain number of factors could result in increased insurance coverage rates and permit suspension.
Criminal Traffic Offenses There is A traffic offense generally considered a crime if it’s punishable by imprisonment. Criminal traffic crimes are categorized as either misdemeanors or felonies. Samples of driving-related crimes that are categorized as crimes include:
Driving under the influence of alcohol or medication (“DUI”) driving while suspended or revoked reckless driving hit-and-run, and vehicular murder.
Misdemeanor or Felony Whether a criminal offense is categorized as a misdemeanor or felony varies by jurisdiction. While some traffic crimes are crimes irrespective of the conditions, some crimes which would be classified as infractions are raised to criminal offenses if certain aggravating factors are present. For example, some jurisdictions classify speeding as a misdemeanor when the motorist exceeds the posted speed limit.
In the same way, driving-related offenses which could otherwise be classified as misdemeanors could become felonies in some situations. States elevate a misdemeanor traffic violation to a felony if:
the motorist is a repeat offender