Though many individuals may consider them little more than a nuisance, traffic citations are generally considered to be criminal offenses. The fines for certain types of infractions can be substantial and can lead to significant increases in the cost of auto insurance premiums. In some circumstances, traffic convictions can add points to your driving record and put you at risk of the loss of driving privileges.
The Different Types of Traffic Tickets
Traffic citations are customarily divided into moving and non-moving violations. Those infractions involving vehicles in transit (moving violations) are generally the more serious offenses.
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- Moving violations. Moving violations include a wide range of acts, including speeding, reckless driving, driving while intoxicated (DWI), driving under the influence (DUI), illegal lane changes, failure to stop at a red light or traffic sign, and operating a vehicle without valid license or insurance.
- Non-moving violations. This category includes parking violations, issues with paperwork (e.g. expired inspection tags), and problems with the car itself (e.g. a broken taillight).
How Traffic Tickets are Categorized
Most traffic tickets are considered infractions. If they are somewhat more serious, they may be designated or charged as misdemeanors, with a potential punishment of up to a year in jail, or significantly higher fines than an infraction. In limited circumstances, a traffic infraction, such as a repeat DUI, hit and run, or vehicular homicide charge, may be prosecuted as a felony.