In most instances, traffic tickets are issued for offenses known as “infractions.” An infraction refers to a violation or infringement of a law and typically includes tickets for mechanical violations and other non-dangerous moving violations. Since infractions are relatively common, they do not carry the stigma that another traffic crime may carry, such as drinking and driving. A speeding ticket would be an example of a minor infraction. Most traffic violations are deemed to be minor infractions, resulting in a ticket and a small fine.
However, when traffic violations are more serious, they can be categorized as a misdemeanor or even a felony. Typically, a traffic violation rises to the level of a misdemeanor if the violation causes injury to an individual or destruction of property, or if it creates a threat of injury to a person or destruction of property. A traffic violation can be deemed a felony if the violation caused great bodily injury or serious property damage. For example, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs is often considered a felony. The penalties for a misdemeanor and felony are much more severe than for a traffic ticket.
Traffic Violation Penalties
When an individual receives a traffic ticket, there may be several consequences, including action against the person’s driver’s license, points on the person’s driving record, traffic court requirements, increased car insurance rates, and mandatory defensive driving training. Each state has its own points system, which assigns points based on the violation. If a driver receives too many points in a given time frame, he or she may face license suspension or revocation. The amount of a fine will depend on the severity of the traffic law that was violated. For example, parking tickets generally do not affect a person’s driver’s license or car insurance rates. They are typically paid directly to the city where the violation took place.
Addressing a Traffic Ticket
If an individual gets a traffic ticket, it is best to take care of it as soon as possible. Failing to pay a ticket can result in serious consequences, such as arrest, prison time, hefty fines, and even a suspended or revoked driver’s license. Typically, an individual has two options when he or she receives a traffic ticket: pay the ticket or appear in court to contest it. If a person decides to fight the ticket, it is important to appear in the proper court at the proper time for the appeal.
If a person fails to pay the ticket and fails to appear in court to fight it, the judge can issue a bench warrant for that person’s arrest. In such an instance, the individual could be placed in jail until his or her case is heard. Additionally, if a person fails to pay his or her ticket by the due date, the amount will generally increase, and the person may even be subject to additional fines.
If an individual fails to address a traffic ticket, there can be other consequences besides fines and prison time as well. For example, an individual’s license may not be eligible for renewal and the person may have to pay a reinstatement fee before he or she can obtain a license again.