Although many traffic offenses may not carry the same stigma and penalties as other, more serious crimes, even the lower-level offenses can result in significant fines, loss of driving privileges and increased insurance rates. And the more serious offenses, or even some less serious violations if they are part of a series of violations by the same offender, can result in imprisonment. Thus, traffic charges should not be taken lightly. An attorney at Weiland Upton in Richmond, Virginia, can explain the possible consequences of the various violations and represent those charged with traffic offenses throughout the resolution of the matter, taking some of the mystery out of the process and increasing the chances of the least serious outcome.
Traffic Infractions or Violations
In most states, no particular criminal intent is required to convict a person of a minor traffic offense. This concept is sometimes referred to as strict liability. The only proof needed is evidence that the person charged actually committed the prohibited act. For example, if there is reliable evidence of speeding, it need not also be proven that the driver intended to exceed the speed limit; it rarely matters for liability purposes if the speeding was inadvertent or purposeful. Strict-liability traffic offenses typically include such violations as failure to use turn signals, failure to yield, turning into the wrong lane, driving a car with burned-out headlights, failure to use towbars when towing another vehicle, parking next to a yellow curb, parking in a handicap spot without the required permit, overdue parking meters and exceeding the speed limit.
Traffic Misdemeanors and Felonies
Almost every traffic violation becomes a misdemeanor or felony if it involves injury to a person or destruction of property. A person who changes lanes without signaling and hits another car can be charged with the misdemeanor crime of reckless driving or even vehicular homicide if the lane-changer was attempting to inflict serious bodily injury and the other driver is killed. In addition, some traffic offenses are legally defined as misdemeanors or felonies, such as driving with a revoked license and leaving the scene of an accident. A person accused of these more serious traffic offenses is entitled to all criminal procedures, including the right to a court-appointed attorney and a jury trial.
The primary purpose of traffic-violation laws and regulations is to deter unsafe driving and to educate and reform bad drivers. Even good drivers, however, for whom safety is a priority, can be charged with a traffic violation. If you or someone you know has been charged with breaking a traffic law, a criminal defense attorney with experience in handling traffic violations at Weiland Upton in Richmond, Virginia, can explain the procedures and possible penalties that await you.
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