If you received a traffic ticket and you’re thinking of not taking it seriously, think again. Even minor traffic tickets can have serious consequences if you’re not careful. Keep reading for some insight into the repercussions that a seemingly “insignificant” traffic ticket can have in Westchester County, New York. And if you’re being charged with more serious traffic violations, your future could be in jeopardy. Keep reading to understand the solutions available!
Traffic Violations: Infractions vs. Misdemeanors vs. Felonies
You might have heard the words “infraction” or “misdemeanor” or “felony” thrown around but are wondering what the difference is.
Many traffic offenses that are classified as non-dangerous or are considered simple driving violations are called “infractions.” Typically classified as minor offenses, traffic infractions usually lead to a traffic ticket, which must be paid off. According to OxfordLegal, the most common traffic infractions include speeding, running a red light or not stopping at a stop sign, and unsafe lane changes. However, certain traffic violations can become misdemeanor criminal charges because of the seriousness of the violation. According to LegalMatch, a traffic violation can sometimes be considered a misdemeanor if:
- The traffic violation caused direct injury to a person;
- The traffic violation caused damage to property: or
- The traffic violation creates a real threat of serious injury to a person or threat or destruction of property
The most serious type of violation is a felony. Felonies can involve traffic violations that caused death or harm to another person and they can also include repeat offenses regarding DUI/DWI. Leaving the scene of an accident is a common felony in New York. Nolo reports that felonies can result in jail sentences of over one year and also significant fines.
Penalties and Consequences (That You Might Not Have Been Expecting)
For relatively non-dangerous violations, usually your consequence will be a ticket which you must pay.
However, if your traffic offense is more serious, then the offense can lead to misdemeanor or even felony charges. These are considered criminal offenses (which go on a person’s criminal record), and usually involve a trial, possible legal fees, and other prolonged legal consequences. Some misdemeanor traffic offenses can carry fines of up to $10,000 and may involve jail time.
In all states, only those convicted of the more serious traffic violations, such as drunk or reckless driving, face the possibility of going to jail. State laws do not allow a judge to impose a jail sentence for speeding or failure to stop at a signal. Even where laws do give a judge the discretionary power to jail a traffic offender (sometimes for repeat offenders), the judge will very rarely choose to exercise it. Even though ordinary violations won’t result in jail time, the other consequences of not contesting a ticket, or fighting and being found guilty, can be serious. As Nolo reports, you can face a stiff fine, a day in traffic school, significantly higher insurance premiums, and possibly even the suspension of your driver’s license.
What Happens If You Ignore a Ticket?
If you’ve received a traffic ticket, never shrug it off. According to HG.Legal, if you do not pay tickets and go to court on time, ticket debt and penalties increase, and the court can report you to the Secretary of State. You may be issued a warrant for “Failure To Appear – Traffic,” or your driver’s license can be suspended. You could face higher fines, which will be sent to collections. If you don’t pay, you could ultimately lose your vehicle.
Got a Ticket? Here’s What to Do Next
Have you received a traffic ticket in Westchester County, New York? Remember that if you’re being charged with a traffic violation or misdemeanor that could result in jail time, it’s in your best interest to try to fight back by getting help from an experienced traffic ticket attorney, says Nolo. Additionally, if you are facing less serious penalties such as fines or higher insurance rates, you still have the opportunity to contest your case. If you believe you were unfairly charged with a traffic violation, contact a traffic ticket attorney right away. If you’re going to contest your case, don’t hesitate. Delaying will only make your case more complicated.
You need a traffic ticket attorney to fight for your side of the story and help you get your charges reduced or dropped altogether. Darren DeUrso is here to protect your best interests.
188 East Post Road, Suite 300
White Plains, NY 10601