Criminal Law

Traffic Violations: Moving

The term "moving violations" refers to a category of criminal offenses that includes traffic violations other than parking violations. It also includes other more serious offenses such as leaving the scene of an accident, driving under the influence and vehicular homicide. Moving violations are prosecuted under state law and penalties vary by state.

Your Driver's License Can Be Suspended for Minor Traffic Violations

If you are convicted of a traffic violation such as changing lanes without signaling, illegal turns, or failure to yield, you will have to pay a fine. In addition, points may be charged to your driving record. As an example, Kentucky levies three to six points for each violation, depending on the nature of the offense. If you accumulate 12 points within two years, your driver's license may be suspended. In some states, your license can be suspended immediately for certain offenses, such as driving more than 25 mph over the speed limit.

You Can Fight a Ticket in Traffic Court

If you are ticketed for a traffic violation, you have the right to fight it. Your court date will be written on the ticket. If you simply pay the ticket, you are pleading guilty to the traffic violation and you don't have to appear in court. If you fail to pay the fine and you fail to show up on your court date, you can be arrested and jailed. If you fight the ticket, you may be able to get the charge dropped. Alternatively, you might be able to negotiate a plea bargain that allows you to pay the fine but keeps the ticket off your driving record.

DUI Is a Serious Offense

Some states refer to the crime of driving under the influence (DUI) by the term driving while intoxicated (DWI). This is one of the most common moving violations, but it's also a serious offense. In most states, you can be convicted of DUI if your blood alcohol content is .08 percent or higher.

DUI penalties can include fines, probation, driver's license suspension, vehicle impoundment, substance abuse classes and jail time - even for a first offense. Repeat convictions can result in felony charges. In Florida, for example, a fourth offense is automatically prosecuted as a felony.

Vehicular Homicide Can Result in a Prison Sentence

Vehicular homicide occurs when a criminally negligent driver causes an accident that kills someone. Although in everyday language "negligence is synonymous with carelessness, the legal meaning of "criminal negligence" is akin to extreme carelessness. Driving while intoxicated is automatically treated as criminal negligence. However, you don't have to be intoxicated to be charged with vehicular homicide.

If the accident occurred because you fell asleep at the wheel, for example, you might be charged with vehicular homicide if you had reason to know that you might fall asleep. A conviction can result in a prison sentence ranging from years to decades.

A Criminal Lawyer Can Help

The law surrounding moving traffic violations is complicated. Plus, the facts of each case are unique. This article provides a brief, general introduction to the topic. For more detailed, specific information, please contact a criminal lawyer.

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