Are Traffic Violations a Crime?

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Finding Out About Citations, Tickets, and More

It is safe to say that most of us have been there before: the sirens flashing in our rearview mirror. We let out a curse to ourselves and pull off to the side, waiting for the long arm of the law to knock on our windows and tell us what we’ve done. Where the situation goes after that can vary. Depending on the nature of the crime, you could get a slap on the wrist and be allowed to drive off. For most of us, a ticket or citation is the next step in the process. And for the more egregious crimes, handcuffs are to follow. But there are lots of questions to be had regarding being stopped for a traffic violation. The first question is: are all traffic violations a crime? The short answer is “not necessarily” but there are certainly a lot of other questions that spawn from that first one. In this guide, you will get a better idea of what the difference is between citations, tickets, and violations are and how they can impact you. 

Is a traffic ticket a criminal offense?

This question is a bit vague as there is a wide array of traffic violations out there. Driving-related offenses can range in seriousness from mere infractions to misdemeanors and felonies. Really, it all comes down to the crime. It is important to note that state laws can vary as far as the classification, processing, and penalizing of driving-related offenses. Traffic offenses are generally classified as well as penalized according to the specific jurisdiction in a quest.

The prior convictions of the offender can come into play as well as whether or not the incident involved any injuries, death, or property damage. As you can see, there are far too many factors involved to make a blanket statement here. Generally speaking, most driving-related offenses are classified as infractions. You may also see them termed as violations or civil infractions. This is the least serious offense there is and they are typically defined as an act or omission that is prohibited by law but is not considered to be a crime.

Is a traffic citation the same as a ticket?

 Generally speaking, citations and tickets are the same thing. Depending on the jurisdiction, however, there are rules that dictate when law enforcement hands out a citation versus issuing a ticket. There are exceptions to the rule, like:

·         Law enforcement officers in certain jurisdictions will only give you a citation after you have been given several tickets.

·         A citation can require an appearance in traffic court in order to determine guilt. A ticket just requires paying a fine.

·        Some jurisdictions will only give citations out for serious offenses or repeated violations. For example, after several warnings for speeding, a citation could be issued.

Generally speaking, standard traffic offenses will involve the issuing of a ticket. This is where you can avoid court altogether by simply paying a fine before the date stated on the ticket. If you don’t pay the fine, you are obligated to show up to court that day.

What are some examples of traffic violations?

There are a ton of different traffic violations out there, but there are some that are definitely more common than others. You are most likely to have one of these infractions happen to you over the course of your driving career:

·         speeding

·         failing to stop or yield

·         failing to signal

·         operating a vehicle without proper lighting, and

·         seat belt violations

There are also traffic infractions that can be considered to be nonmoving violations. These are things like illegal parking or having defective equipment on the vehicle and are generally less serious than moving violations like running a stop sign. The vast majority of traffic violations will result in a citation or ticket that allows you to pay a fine. If you think that you have a case and are willing to fight it, you can appear at your designated court date and fight that claim. This is an uphill battle at best and usually isn’t advisable; if the offense isn’t particularly bad, it’s not worth fighting it. Pay the fine, lose the headache, and move on with your life.

Parking violation ticket fine on windshield

What does a traffic warning mean?

If you pulled over and fortune is smiling down upon you, you’ll get off with a traffic warning rather than a citation. The warning can be both written and verbal, but it is essentially the traffic officer telling you that you have committed an offense of some kind, but that you are being spared the citation. This is completely up to the officer that stopped you. If you get an officer that is having a bad day, it could lead to an actual citation. The only thing to do to totally prevent citations is to not violate stated ordinances.

When you require assistance with traffic violations in Halifax, VA, Danville, VA, and Chatham, VA call 434-237-2245 with A-1 Affordable Bail Bonds today.