You may be studying to get your driver's license for the first time, or perhaps you just passed your driving test. As a new driver, it's a good idea to learn and understand what the laws of the road are that you must obey. There are differences in how they are classified, ranging from an infraction to a felony. Here are what those differences are and what could cause you to be charged with them.
The majority of offenses on the road are known as infractions. Most tickets that are given out by police are in this category and they are mostly for minor to moderate offenses. Some examples of when you would receive an infraction are for mechanical problems with your car such as brake lights being out or too tinted windows. It could also be speeding just a bit over the limit.
An infraction usually is a simple fine and doesn't carry any jail time.
Misdemeanors are a definite step up from an infraction because they tend to carry a more hefty fine and the possibility of jail time. A misdemeanor is cited if there is the potential to put people at risk of injury, such as going through a red light, weaving, or crashing your car through a drive-thru window. Almost all accidents that could potentially cause damage to a property or injuries to people, or pose a threat to do so, are considered misdemeanors.
Misdemeanors are punishable by a fine and the potential to spend time in jail. This will vary depending on what state you live in as well as what is considered a misdemeanor in that state.
For example, some common misdemeanors (in most states) are, driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs, failing to stop at the scene of an accident, driving without a license, driving without insurance, and reckless or dangerous driving.
Felonies are considered very serious crimes in every part of the law, and traffic law is no different. If you are convicted of a felony you could spend several years in prison, up to life in prison, and even be sentenced to death if it's deemed that the act was intentional and you meant to hurt someone.
Some examples of what would be considered a felony in traffic law could be repeated DUI/DWI convictions, serious hit and run accidents, including those in which the driver intended to hit a person and then drove away or the driver was driving too fast and lost control, and vehicular homicide.
If you are convicted of a felony while driving you may have restrictions placed on your rights as well, including the loss of your license. You may not be able to serve on a jury in some states and you may even lose your right to vote.
If you are ever charged with a misdemeanor or felony while driving, it's best to contact a traffic law attorney in your state to know what your rights are what fines or jail time you could be facing.