IS YOUR FLORIDA TRAFFIC TICKET A FELONY OR MISDEMEANOR?
I have been a traffic ticket attorney for nearly 20 years and over the course of those two decades, there has been one nearly constant piece of advice that I have given people who receive a traffic ticket: Yes, you should fight your traffic ticket. Now, there are a couple of instances when this does not apply. If you get a parking ticket or a ticket for a broken taillight, you should just pay it. This is because a broken taillight ticket or a parking ticket doesn’t result in points on your license or any of the other negative consequences associated with a traffic ticket. When either of them is combined with a moving offense; however, the ramifications begin to get expensive. Since cops often give out more than one ticket at a time, if you get a ticket for a broken taillight and a moving violation, you definitely need to fight the traffic ticket.
Moving violations can be considered either civil, criminal misdemeanors, or criminal felonies. Each of these classifications carries various penalties and can be of different degrees. The most common type of traffic ticket issued in the State of Florida is a non-criminal civil traffic ticket. These offenses include running a stop sign/red light; speeding; following too closely; driving without your headlights on; illegal u-turns; driving alone in the HOV lane; and toll infractions. These are many of the frequent civil violations, but there are certainly many others.
The more serious level of traffic violation is criminal misdemeanor traffic tickets, and these are classified as either of the first or second degree. The degree of the criminal misdemeanor varies based upon the penalties although both can result in jail time or fines. The possibility of jail time is what separates a criminal traffic ticket from civil traffic offenses. Some of the traffic tickets that are considered criminal traffic offenses by the State of Florida are leaving the scene of an accident; knowingly driving on a suspended license; misdemeanor drug possession; reckless driving; or DUI. This is not an exhaustive list of traffic misdemeanors and some of these charges can be construed as a felony under certain circumstances. One such example is if you are pulled over for a DUI and it is a third offense.
Needless to say, the State of Florida views felony traffic violations more seriously than the previously discussed infractions. These can include driving on a suspended license for the third time or leaving the scene of an accident that resulted in injuries or a fatality. The distinction of a felony versus other types of traffic tickets focuses on the time spent in jail versus the type of crime. You should never try to defend yourself when it comes to a charge that you land you in jail. Then, more than ever, you need the Traffic Ticket Team on your side to ensure you get the best representation available.
Regardless of the type of moving violation, you will get a fine, points on your license, your insurance rates will increase, and you may even end up with a suspended license. Contacting an experienced traffic ticket attorney is always in your best interests when it comes to moving violations, even if it is not a criminal citation. As I have said many times, not only is paying the ticket an admission of guilt, but it’s a lot more costly in the long-run than hiring the Traffic Ticket Team to handle your traffic ticket for you. Give me a call at (954) 967-9888 for your free consultation or visit us at trafficticketteam.com.