The second most asked question I get asked, after “should I blow”, is “should I fight this ticket?” The answer is almost always yes, but there are a few tickets that you should just pay. For example, a parking ticket should just be paid. It is not worth fighting it. It also will not give you points on your license. A busted tail light is the same. However, cops usually give tickets out in pairs. Thus, if you get a speeding ticket and a busted tail light ticket, call us to fight it. So what tickets should you be concerned about. Generally, you need to take care of any moving violation. A moving violation can be a civil ticket, a criminal misdemeanor ticket or a criminal felony traffic ticket.
MOST COMMON NON-CRIMINAL CIVIL TRAFFIC TICKETS
- GOING THROUGH A STOP SIGN OR RED LIGHT
- TAILGATING, A/K/A FOLLOWING TOO CLOSELY
- DRIVING WITHOUT HEADLIGHTS AT NIGHT
- ILLEGAL U-TURN
- DRIVING IN THE HOV LANE
- NOT PAYING YOUR SUN PASS
- FAILURE TO SIGNAL
- VIOLATION OF A TRAFFIC CONTROL DEVICE
These are the most common, but certainly not an exhaustive list. There are hundreds of non-criminal traffic violations in Florida. The thing you need to remember is that you should always fight a moving traffic violation, even if it’s NOT criminal in nature. If you just pay it, you will get points on your license. Your insurance rates will go up and you could have your license suspended.
CRIMINAL MISDEMEANOR TRAFFIC TICKETS
A misdemeanor comes in different degrees. This is there are first and second degree misdemeanors. The maximum and minimum penalties differ. However, all misdemeanors include possible jail time and large fines. It is the possibility of jail that makes a criminal traffic ticket different from civil traffic ticket. Here is a list of the most common criminal misdemeanor traffic tickets in Florida.
- LEVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT, NO SERIOUS INJURY/DEATH
- DRIVING ON A SUSPENDED LICENSE WITH KNOWLEDGE
- RECKLESS DRIVING
- DUI (DRIVING UNDER THE INFLUENCE)
- POSSESSION OF CANNABIS, UNDER 20 GRAMS
As above, these are not all the traffic misdemeanors, but the most common. I included possession of cannabis since it seems like most of my clients get busted for this while driving in a car. Some actually fall into more than one category. For example, DUI, can be a felony if it’s your third DUI.
COMMON FELONY TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS
- DRIVING WHILE LICENSE SUSPENDED FOR THE 3RD TIME
- DUI FOR THE THIRD TIME
- LEAVING THE SCENE OF AN ACCIDENT WITH SERIOUS INJURIES OR A FATALITY
A felony is distinguished from a misdemeanor in that you can go to prison for well over a year for a felony. Most traffic felonies have a 5 year prison maximum and $10,000 fine. Felonies usually focus on the prison time versus the type of crime. As with a traffic misdemeanor, you MUST call an experienced traffic ticket and criminal lawyer if you are charged with an offense. You should never try and represent yourself when you are charged with a crime that can put you in Jail.
Keep in mind that the police officer who gives you a traffic ticket is not your friend. If I had a nickel for every bad piece of legal advice my client’s were given by the cop who gave them a ticket, I would be rich. For example, if you just pay a DWLS with knowledge ticket, you have plead guilty to a misdemeanor. If convicted, you now have a criminal conviction on your record. That means the next time you apply for a job and they ask “have you ever been convicted of a crime?”. You must answer yes if you want to be truthful. Remember, the cop who gives you a ticket is the one who wants you punished. He gets promoted based on the amount of tickets he gives out and convictions he can get under his belt. Don’t help him. Call a traffic ticket lawyer if you need help. I, Jason Diamond, offer a free consultation.