If you're someone who drives, it's important for you to know what actions can result in a traffic ticket. While most traffic offenses are infractions, which are minor crimes, they can still have negative consequences. Traffic violations can result in expensive tickets, higher insurance rates, and possibly suspension of your driver's license. Some traffic violations can even result in a misdemeanor or felony charges. FindLaw's section on Types of Traffic Tickets offers general information for the most common traffic laws and violations. Since each state has its own traffic rules, this section also provides links to state laws for various violations when the law is available.
Whether you're late for an appointment or just eager to get to where you're going, chances are that you've driven over the posted speed limit. For this reason, speeding is one of the most common reasons for a traffic ticket. There are actually three types of speeding limits: absolute, presumed, and basic.
An absolute speed limit is the most common type of speed law. An example of an absolute speed limit is when a sign states that the speed limit is 65 mph. Under this type of speed limit, a person who goes even 1 mph over the posted speed limit has violated the law.
A presumed speed limit is a system that's only used in certain states, such as California and Texas. This system allows people to legally drive over the speed limit as long as they drive safely. For example, if a person drives 40 mph in a 35 mph zone, the driver is "presumed" to be violating the speed law. However, the judge could acquit the driver if he or she is able to convince the judge that the driving conditions made driving over the speed limit safe.
Finally, the basic speed theory states that you can violate the basic speed law even if you drive at the posted speed limit. In this situation, an officer can decide that driving the speed limit is unsafe given the driving conditions. For example, if it's raining heavily it can be unsafe to drive 65 mph, even if that's the speed limit.
Leaving the Scene of an Accident
One of the more serious traffic offenses is leaving the scene of an accident, also known as a hit and run. Generally speaking, the law requires that people involved in an accident pull over when it's safe to do so and exchange contact or insurance information. While the procedures after an accident vary from state to state, they are usually based on what type of damage occurred.
If a person hits an unattended car or stationary property, most states usually require that the driver leave a note with his or her contact information. If there are injuries involved, drivers usually have a duty to take reasonable steps to help the injured person, and report the accident to the police. A person who doesn't follow the proper procedures after an accident can receive a traffic ticket at minimum. If a driver leaves the scene of an accident where an injury or death occurred, it can result in serious criminal charges, including a possible felony charge.
Hiring a Lawyer
Usually a simple traffic ticket doesn't require help from an attorney. However, if you have questions or feel that your situation is complicated, you might want to contact a traffic ticket attorney. If you've been charged with a more serious traffic violation, it's in you best interest to contact a criminal defense attorney.