Most people have had a traffic ticket issued to them at least once in their life, and in general they are minor offenses payable with a fine and perhaps costing you some points on your driving record which will drive your insurance premiums up or get your license suspended. Some examples of civil traffic violations include:
- Driving on the sidewalk
- Expired driver’s license less than six months
- Expired registration
- Ignoring traffic control signals
- Running a red light
- Simple speeding
Getting any of these violations sucks and can be expensive but for all that they are civil rather than criminal violations, so you will not need a criminal defense lawyer. Nevertheless, you can certainly challenge the ticket in court with the help of a lawyer if you believe it was unjustified, and you may even get your case dismissed. In some cases, you may be given the option to attend traffic school to avoid the fines and the points on your record.
However, there are certain traffic violations that are much more serious than going 5 miles over the speed limit, or which Florida statutes consider criminal, and for these you will need a lawyer. According to the website of the Flaherty Defense Firm, these criminal violations can be charged as misdemeanors or felonies, depending on the circumstances. These include but not limited to:
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Driving without a license or with a suspended or revoked license
- Leaving the scene of an accident
Even having too many unresolved traffic tickets or being a habitual traffic violator can elevate your case to criminal court. For these types of offenses, fines or traffic school are not the only things you could be facing but prison time and license suspension as well. If you fail to show up for court, you will only make things worse for yourself. Retaining a criminal defense lawyer for these types of cases will relieve you not only of worry but the necessity of making court appearances and applying for the reinstatement of your driving privileges, even if only on a limited basis.
Traffic laws can be confusing, so even if you believe you know how to handle it, it would not be a good idea especially for serious traffic violations. Don’t take your chances; hire a competent lawyer to handle your case for the best possible results.