A traffic infraction is anything that is written in the Florida statutes that govern driving-related offenses or traffic infractions. As far as moving violations are concerned, anything under what is called Chapter 316 which contains all the statutes and regulations as it relates to a traffic infraction. In Fort Lauderdale, for example, Fort Lauderdale Police Department is governed by Florida statutes Chapter 316. The two most common Ft. Lauderdale traffic infractions are driving in excess of the stated speed limit and then school zone violations. If you have been ticketed for a traffic infraction consult a determined traffic lawyer that could work tirelessly to challenge your ticket.
How Infractions Differ From a Misdemeanor
A person cannot be arrested, they cannot be sentenced to jail or prison, and they cannot be given a criminal record for a civil infraction. An individual can be arrested by a police officer for a misdemeanor. It is something that would go on an individual’s criminal record. It would show an arrest and/or potential conviction. A misdemeanor carries with a potential county jail time, potentially probation. If an individual violates their probation in a material way, they can be resentenced and go back to jail.
There is a big difference between a civil infraction and a misdemeanor. A common example of the civil infraction would be an average speeding ticket and then, a common example of a traffic-related misdemeanor would be driving under the influence so they are a different set of circumstances.
Different Levels of Traffic Offenses in Fort Lauderdale
In general, this is relating to the civil related infractions which deal with fines, court costs, traffic school, potential suspension of someone’s driver’s license and then there are criminal related offenses and under that umbrella, there are misdemeanors and felonies which are anything an individual can be arrested for or be sentenced to jail or prison time for. It is a function of what the laws say so a legislator drew out statutes and depending upon where the particular offense that falls on the Florida statutes would dictate whether or not it is a civil infraction, misdemeanor or felony.
In general, there are situations where minor violations like speeding would be a civil infraction, but something like reckless driving, which is generally defined as a willful or wanton disregard for persons or property, that would be considered an aggravating factor pursuant to Statute 316.192 governs reckless driving. That is a criminal offense.
Driving under the influence which means anything involving alcohol or drugs; as well as the severity of an accident or the severity of the injury is more serious. A hit and run or leaving the scene of an accident is considered an aggravating factor or circumstance and legislature has deemed that as a criminal offense, fleeing and eluding.
If somebody is alleged to have been speeding, law enforcement officer tends to effectuate a traffic stop and the person tries to run or getaway that is considered an aggravating factor and the legislator deemed that to be a criminal offense.
There a lot of different levels of Ft. Lauderdale traffic infractions and there are documentation-related offenses regarding registration, insurance, tag violations, whether or not somebody has a license or not either if a person has a license, but do not have it on them, that is a civil infraction. If a person never had a license at all and they are driving or if they had a suspended license, that is a criminal offense in Fort Lauderdale.
It depends on the facts and circumstances and the manner in which somebody drives, whether or not somebody is hurt, whether or not drugs or alcohol are involved can all dictate whether or not a traffic offense is civil or criminal and if it is criminal, whether it is a misdemeanor or a felony.
Where Are Traffic Infraction Cases Heard
Cases for Ft. Lauderdale traffic infractions are heard in the main courthouse in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, 201 Southeast Six Street in Fort Lauderdale. They are either heard before traffic magistrates or some traffic infraction cases even though they are civil in nature, they are quasi-criminal, meaning that even though they are not criminal, certain aggressive violations, for example, include individuals who are alleged to be driving 30 miles or more in excess of the speed limit. Those cases can actually be heard at the same courthouse but they are heard by county court criminal judges, cases involving accidents, involving serious bodily injury or fatalities.
Those are cases that are still civil in nature, but they are heard in front of a county criminal judge, so they are only handled at the same courthouse in Downtown Fort Lauderdale, but depending upon the type of traffic infraction even if it is civil, it will either heard before a traffic magistrate or a county court judge. If someone has been charged with a traffic infraction, they should feel free to consult a local, experienced traffic lawyer that could defend their case, and fight to protect their rights.