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What are the penalties for common traffic violations?

On Behalf of | Jul 26, 2022 | Criminal Defense

While it might not feel criminal to accidentally go over the speed limit or misinterpret a street parking sign, violating specific traffic rules in California can leave a mark on your record. Not only will breaking laws impact your driving record, but the penalties might also pose present-day and future problems.

Having the privilege to drive makes transportation a breeze, but racking up infractions can make it challenging to keep your license. To move past this, seeking possible defense strategies and ways to reduce your penalties is crucial. This follow-up process can begin with learning about the ticket you’ve received.

Common citations

Slip-ups can happen even when trying to avoid a traffic ticket at all costs. Here are the main categories citations tend to fall in:

  • Parking tickets: A low-level citation that doesn’t usually involve the court is a parking ticket. The ticket will list an agency, not a government entity, that you will have to pay. If you disagree with the ticket, contacting the agency will be the first course of action you take.
  • Traffic infraction tickets: Traffic tickets are the next step up from parking tickets. Police officers deal out these tickets for things like speeding, driving recklessly or running stop signs. There are also infractions known as “fix-it” tickets that require drivers to repair a part of their vehicle that is clearly making them a danger on the road, like replacing a broken head or taillight.
  • Misdemeanor traffic tickets: A ticket for driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs is probably the most common misdemeanor traffic ticket. Driving without a legitimate license can also lead to a misdemeanor charge.

Depending on the ticket you receive, you’ll want to follow up as soon as possible. Missing deadlines can lead to heightened penalties.

Potential penalties

If you’re guilty of a traffic violation, it’s essential to understand whether you can fight the ticket and what consequences you will face. Typical penalties often include county and state penalty fees. You may also owe additional penalty fees if emergency medical services, public safety officials or the court is involved. California residents will also pay a 20% surcharge on traffic tickets.

Plus, depending on the ticket, you will rack up one to two points on your record. One-point violations include taking illegal U-turns, running red lights, speeding and causing a car crash. While two-point violations include DUIs, driving carelessly, hit-and-runs and using a suspended license. One-point violations will remain on file for three years, and two-point violations will remain on file for ten years. Collecting several points in a short amount of time can lead to license suspension or revocation.

Dealing with a ticket often happens outside of court for low-level infractions. But you’ll want to consider seeking a reduction of penalties or taking a fight against the charges if they are unfair, especially if you are facing a misdemeanor charge. Guidance from an experienced attorney can help you explore your options and keep your driving rights.