Florida Statutes Title XXIII–Motor Vehicles–sets forth the traffic laws to which all motorists, pedestrians, and cyclists must abide. Most of the commonly cited offenses and statutes are found in Chapters 316, 318, 320 and 322. Under Florida law, there are two categories of traffic offenses–criminal and civil. Civil and criminal traffic offenses differ significantly in terms of penalties, but both can have a negative impact on your driving record. In English.
Florida uses a point system to keep track of drivers’ convictions for traffic violations. The point system is a graduated scale and different values are assigned based on the type of offense. An individual’s driver’s license will be suspended if they accumulate a specified number of points within a 12, 24, or 36-month period.
If you have received a traffic citation or have been charged with a criminal traffic offense, you might assume that you do not have many options. However, a Plantation traffic lawyer can help prepare you for appearances in traffic court and improve the likelihood of avoiding a conviction. Contacting an experienced criminal attorney may be vital to the future outcome of your case.
Civil Traffic Offenses in Florida
Civil traffic offenses (also referred to as non-criminal infractions) are not punishable by incarceration, but they can result in points being assessed against a driver’s license, driving school, monetary penalties and even suspension of an individual’s driver’s license. For certain civil traffic violations, a person may also be required to appear in court.
Some examples of civil traffic infractions include:
- Failing to yield right of way
- Failure to wear safety belt
- Failing to obey traffic signal or sign
- Following another vehicle too closely
- Careless driving (i.e. failure to drive in a careful and prudent manner)
- Failure to use due care
Generally speaking, an individual who receives a citation for a non-criminal traffic infraction can pursue one of the following options within 30 days from the date of issuance:
- Hire a Plantation traffic lawyer to defend the citation
- Request a court hearing to contest the citation on your own
- Pay the fine associated with the violation
- Enter a plea of no contest and pay required court costs, and, if applicable
- Elect to attend traffic school/defensive driving course
Fines and options often vary depending on the county in which the citation was issued. Failing to comply with the civil penalty may result in the suspension of a person’s driver’s license and additional fees.
Criminal Traffic Offenses in Florida
Criminal traffic violations are either a misdemeanor or felony offenses, which means that they are punishable by fines, probation, and/or incarceration if convicted. Examples of criminal traffic violations include, but are not limited to, the following:
- Reckless driving
- Driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs (DUI)
- Leaving the scene of an accident (hit and run)
- Driving with a suspended license
- Driving without a valid license
- Attaching an unassigned tag
- Expired registration
- Alteration of a tag or registration sticker
- Permitting an unauthorized driver to operate a motor vehicle
Criminal traffic offenses can range considerably in severity depending on the specific circumstances of the violation and whether the person has any previous convictions. For example, leaving the scene of an accident that is limited to property damage is a second-degree misdemeanor but doing so when the crash resulted in serious bodily injury is a second-degree felony.
Any person charged with a criminal traffic offense will be required to appear in court and should appear with a Plantation traffic lawyer who has experience with these types of cases. Failing to appear in court may result in the suspension of the driver’s license or a warrant being issued for their arrest.
Contacting an Attorney
Plantation traffic lawyers are ready to defend you against any traffic offense or charges and will zealously advocate for the most favorable result possible in your case. Contact a Plantation traffic lawyer for assistance today.