Often, people confuse criminal and civil traffic tickets or citations. However, there are some key differences to note which is why we’re taking a look at them today!
Civil Traffic Ticket
Firstly, this is a ticket, awarded by an officer, that can be given to not just motorists but also pedestrians. Ultimately, it covers any civil traffic law including illegal turns, failing to stop at a red light, illegal crossing, speeding, and parking meter violations.
On the form, the officer will list the laws broken as well as the associated fines. Furthermore, it will go on to explain how you pay the fine or whether you wish to challenge it (if you feel it wasn’t deserved).
For the most part, these violations will not carry criminal penalties. This being said, points can still go onto your license which has all sorts of negative connotations including higher insurance premiums and even suspension (after a build up of points). Once your license is suspended, driving will be a criminal offense.
Civil Traffic Citation
If you’ve already done some research on this topic, you might be confused and this is because people tend to use ‘ticket’ and ‘citation’ interchangeably but there are some subtle differences. Although many citations can be resolved by paying a fine (via check or online), they can require a court appearance due to the traffic infraction. In addition to this, points can be added to your license as we saw with the ticket. Regardless of the solution, this infraction will be a non-criminal charge which is important to remember.
If you happen to receive a civil ticket or citation for an infraction, there are various solutions;
- You could pay the fine on the ticket or suggested by the court.
- You could request an ‘informal hearing’ and this allows you to explain what happened to a judge. After the officer then explains their observations, the judge will make their decision without any attorneys required.
- You could request a formal hearing which requires evidence and therefore assistance from an attorney; for example, our superb services at The Ticket Firm in Fort Lauderdale.
- You could attend traffic school.
As long as you have a good driving record to this date, an infraction may only require driving school after paying the fine. From the date the ticket is awarded, you normally have 30 days to complete the associated forms, notarize the signature, and have the form returned to the clerk’s office.
Traffic School – Typically, traffic school will be a four-hour improvement course; this course can only be attended once per year and a limit of five times over the course of your life. Once you make the decision to attend, you must do so within 60-90 days. To prove your attendance, you’ll need to submit a certificate to the clerk’s office and you will avoid points by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV).
If you’ve already paid the fine, this is essentially admitting your mistake so you won’t be able to contest at a later date. If you do wish to contest a ticket or citation, don’t pay the fine and get in touch with us here at The Ticket Firm. Once we gather all the evidence, we’ll build a strong case to remove the penalty and keep your license as healthy as possible.
Criminal Traffic Ticket/Citation
Finally, we have criminal traffic tickets and these are given for criminal traffic violations. Instead of minor infractions, this includes DUI, hit and run, reckless driving, driving while suspended, driving with no license, manslaughter, leaving an accident scene, and other serious incidents.
While most criminal traffic offenses are classified as misdemeanors, there are certain occasions where you can be charged with a felony. If you’ve offended before or caused serious injury (or even death) after driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, this will result in a felony. Of course, this means that a prison sentence is likely. For less severe incidents or for those with a clean record previously, the likely resolution will be probation, removal of license, home confinement, community control, traffic classes, fines, or vehicle impoundment.
Howemer, the issues run deeper than this because a criminal traffic ticket can lead to loss of employment, permanent black mark on driving license and criminal record, losing insurance, and higher insurance premiums.
If you’ve been given a ticket or citation and you end up with a misdemeanor or felony, you will need to appear in a district court for an ‘arraignment’. Essentially, this is where the charges will be read and assessed before you plead guilty or not guilty. If you do not appear, a warrant will be put out for your arrest and all driving privileges will be removed.
If you decide to plead not guilty, the case will progress to a trial with either a judge or jury. At this point, you can get in contact with an attorney who will represent you and present your case.
If you need advice or an attorney for any of the above, please contact The Ticket Firm today at 954-591-0000. With a team full of professionals and experience in this corner of law, we can look after your interests and put you in the best position to succeed in your case!