Felony Traffic Offenses

The majority of traffic offenses are considered minor infractions resulting in a traffic ticket or maybe a small fine. More serious traffic violations are considered misdemeanors and others are classified as felonies. 

A felony traffic offense is usually a result if there is an injury to a person or the destruction of property. It may also occur if the traffic violation creates a threat of injury to a person or property. Usually, the most common felony traffic violations involve DUI-related charges.

What Types of Traffic Violations are Considered Felonies?

Felonies are typically considered to be the most serious crimes in any jurisdiction. The majority of jurisdictions will classify the following offenses to be felonies:

  • Vehicular homicide or manslaughter
  • Other repeat offenses such as repeatedly driving without a license
  • Some forms of reckless driving such as racing or other offenses that can cause injury or property damage
  • Hit and run. Especially involving bodily harm or property damage 
  • Fleeing law enforcement
  • Multiple DUI convictions

Some states have misdemeanors labeled as “aggravated” or “gross”. This means that, even though these violations are misdemeanors, they can result in harsher penalties that are comparable to felony penalties.

What are the Consequences of Being Convicted of a Traffic Felony?

A felony is punishable by a prison sentence of more than one year. Traffic felonies will typically involve fines as well as a prison sentence. The fine can range from $500 to several thousand dollars, depending on the severity of the case and jurisdiction. 

Traffic felonies can carry other negative consequences:

  • Suspension or loss of the driver’s license permanently
  • Points added to a driver’s license record
  • Increased insurance payments
  • Loss of citizen’s privileges (voting or being allowed to teach in a professionally)
  • Towing or impounding of the car 
  • Prohibition on the ownership of firearms
  • Permanent mark on the driver’s criminal record
  • A person may be required to install a breathalyzer in their vehicle in a DUI case
  • Life sentence in prison in jurisdictions that have a “three strikes” felony rule

If you are facing felony traffic violations, contact Mr. Ticket today!

Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses

Traffic violations can range from trivial to severe. Minor offenses are “fix it” tickets and citations for violations that are non-moving. On the more severe end of the spectrum are consequential matters like “hit and run” accidents, especially if someone is killed or injured.

The majority of minor traffic offenses are deemed infractions. They are not considered criminal violations of the law. These types of typically violations involve relatively minor punishments. Usually fines, and/or a point on your driving record. More grave traffic violations may be charged as criminal. Convictions can include penalties like significant fines, restitution, drug/alcohol treatment, revocation of the driver’s license, and incarceration.

There are two types of criminal offenses: misdemeanors and felonies. Misdemeanors are the less severe of the two. Any violation that has a maximum of one year or less in the county jail is deemed a misdemeanor. Misdemeanor traffic offenses following California law include both “status” violations, including having illegal vehicle modifications, and moving violations. Here are a few more serious traffic misdemeanors:

  • Failure to stop and submit to law enforcement inspection of equipment, an unsafe condition, or other safety violations;
  • Fleeing from an officer which includes causing an injury while fleeing;
  • Driving without a valid license including driving with a suspended or revoked license including driving with a suspended or revoked license;
  • Refusing to provide a license when requested by police;
  • Causing bodily injury with a vehicle after a license has been suspended or revoked;
  • Hit and run causing property damage, injury, or death (can also be charged as a felony);
  • Driving the wrong way on a divided highway (can also be charged as a felony);
  • Reckless driving, including reckless driving leading to bodily injury;
  • Engaging in a race with another vehicle on a public highway, including racing which leads to bodily injury;
  • Throwing any substance at another vehicle or vehicle occupant on a public highway;
  • Possession of alcohol in a vehicle by anyone under 21;
  • Possession of an open container of alcohol in a vehicle (if third or subsequent violation);
  • For individuals required to use ignition interlock devices: failure to install such a device within 30 days, or driving a vehicle without the device installed;
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs (can also be charged as a felony). 

It is possible for misdemeanor traffic violations to carry weighty consequences. Violations can carry fines of up to $10,000 and potential jail time anywhere from a few days to a year. The court may also tack on other penalties, like enrollment in a substance abuse treatment program or another program, victim restitution, suspension of the driver’s license, and probation.

Felony traffic offenses are the most severe type of traffic offenses and can carry the most severe consequences, including years in state prison. 

Mr. Ticket Can Help You Can Fight a Misdemeanor Traffic Violation

If you are facing a misdemeanor traffic violation contact Mr. Ticket today to represent you!

What Happens if you Ignore a Ticket?

If you ignore your ticket, you are only asking for your situation to get worse. Your fine will likely increase and additional penalties can be added.

If you can show the court that you are unable to pay your fine or that it will cause your family financial hardship, you may ask them to reduce or drop the fine. If your case ends up in collections, you can contact your court to have them determine your ability to pay in case of financial hardship. After considering your financial circumstances, the court may decide to reduce the amount of the fine, put you on a payment plan, or order community service.

However, it is possible your court may not offer all of these options, not all fines may be eligible for ability-to-pay determinations, and the court may decide you owe the total amount either in full or on a payment plan. If you do not appear in court or pay your ticket your driver’s license is subject to suspension with the possibility of additional penalties being added.

What if you don’t go to court on your court date?

If you do not appear in court or pay your ticket your driver’s license is subject to suspension with the possibility of additional penalties being added.

Not showing up to court is referred to as “failure to appear”. If you violate the agreement to appear at court (that you signed when you got your ticket) you can be found guilty of a new crime.

You may not need to appear if you contacted the court prior to your court date to address your ticket and take action ahead of time. You can resolve your ticket before your court date by pleading guilty and paying the fine, requesting an arraignment date, posting bail and requesting trial without arraignment, or requesting rial by declaration. Make sure with the court that you do not need to appear.

In addition to a “failure to appear”, a “civil assessment” fee of up to $300 may be added to your fine amount, your case may be sent to collections, you may be found guilty in absentia, or the court may issue a warrant for your arrest.

The court can additionally charge you with a misdemeanor or an infraction for “failure to appear.” If you get a “civil assessment” but had “good cause” for not appearing in court or paying your fine, you may be able to ask the court to cancel it, if you ask in a timely manner.

What if you don’t pay your fine/fee?

If you do not pay your fine within the time the court gives you, your driver’s license will be subject to suspension. It is also possible you might not be able to renew your vehicle registration.

In addition to not paying your fine on time, a “civil assessment” fee of up to $300 could be added to your fine amount, your case may be sent to collections, or the court could issue a warrant for your arrest. The court can additionally charge you with a misdemeanor or infraction for “failure to pay.”

If you go to court and respond to your ticket you will be able to avoid additional penalties. It will give you an opportunity to present any financial hardship or ability to pay issues in order to make appropriate adjustments to your fines/payments if the court is able to. Don’t forget that you can request an ability-to-pay determination even if your case has been sent to collections.

If you are seeking legal representation to help you respond to a ticket, present financial hardship evidence, or have to present “good cause” due to a “civil assessment” for failure to appear, contact Mr. Ticket!