What Is A Traffic Violation?
Traffic violations occur when the driver of a motor vehicle violates a traffic law. Many traffic infractions can result in a violation. Some of the most common are speeding, running a red light, and reckless driving.
Moving violations occur while a vehicle is in motion, and non-moving violations occur while a vehicle is stopped or refers to something about the vehicle besides how it was moving, such as the driver’s license, a parking ticket, or a tail light being out.
Different Types of Traffic Violations
These violations occur when one is driving at a speed higher than the current speed limit. The severity of the offense will depend on how far over the speed limit the driver was traveling.
Lane Changes and Turn Signals
These moving violations happen as the driver is moving through traffic. There are clear laws stating that a vehicle must have a turn-signal on before switching lanes. Drivers who change lanes without a turn signal or who change multiple lanes at once are guilty of a traffic infraction.
Red Lights and Stop Signs
Two common moving violations are rolling through stop signs and running red lights. These are some of the more dangerous moving violations, and can easily result in a collision, especially in a busy intersection. Even if there are no police present, many intersections have cameras, which will be triggered if someone runs a red light.
Non-Moving Violations include paperwork violations, parking tickets, and vehicle violations.
- Paperwork Violations: Driving with expired tags, a suspended license, or no license.
- Vehicle Violations: Tail light being out, having overly tinted windows, broken mirrors, etc.
- Parking Tickets: Can be issued if a meter runs out in a parking spot, or if a car is parked in a spot where parking is not allowed.
What Traffic Violations Are Criminal Offenses?
Suspended Driver’s License
Driving with a suspended license is a serious offense and can lead to more than a traffic ticket. The penalty varies from state to state. In some states, driving on a suspended license is a misdemeanor, with fines from $50 to $2,500. In the state of Illinois, it can lead to imprisonment for a maximum of a year for the first offense, with subsequent offenses being a felony with 1-3 years in prison.
Most states define reckless driving as driving in a way that is willfully putting the other drivers in danger. There will be harsher penalties when there is also speeding or other violations occurring at the same time.
Hit and Run
A hit and run occurs during an accident when the person who causes the accident chooses to flee the scene. When a hit and run involves damage to a vehicle, it is a misdemeanor in many states and can lead to a fine and/or jail time.
Vehicle Homicide or Manslaughter
One of the most serious traffic infractions, vehicle homicide, or manslaughter occurs when someone is killed due to an accident. The penalties are more serious if the driver was impaired by alcohol or drugs.
Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is a serious crime and can lead to one’s license being suspended or revoked. In many states, there is a fine accompanied by jail time for the first offense. Subsequent offenses will carry harsher penalties.
How Long Do Traffic Violations Stay On Your Record?
How long traffic offenses stay on your record varies from state to state. In some states, the offenses only stay on one’s record for 12 months. In other states, the time increases to 3 or 5 years. In the state of Hawaii, a traffic violation stays on one’s record for 10 years.
These violations affect one’s driving record, so it is important to keep a clean record and avoid citations. Having serious or multiple citations on one’s record will cause insurance rates to be higher and can eventually lead to one’s license being suspended.
How To Look Up Your Traffic Violations
One’s traffic violations can be found with an internet search. To search for a particular ticket, you will need the citation number. Each state will have a different database that one can be used to search for their particular traffic violation.
View our other Glossary Terms here.
*This article is for informational purposes only, and does not constitute legal advice