Infractions vs Misdemeanors

August 19, 2019

You may think you are driving carefully one day, and then all of a sudden, you see those red and blue lights flashing behind you. Being issued a traffic citation is never a pleasant experience, and depending on whether you have been charged with a misdemeanor or infraction, you may be facing a minor inconvenience or a significant ordeal. 

Infraction vs Misdemeanor

Even a small infraction can potentially be cause for your license to be revoked, depending on how many times you have been ticketed in the recent past. While the laws vary by state, some typical examples of infractions include the following:

  • Speeding
  • Parking in a restricted area
  • Driving with a missing tail light
  • Failure to use a turning signal

Infractions are not considered criminal charges. Misdemeanors are, however, and you can potentially be arrested if charged with a misdemeanor. These are some examples of traffic misdemeanors:

  • Driving without insurance
  • Driving under the influence
  • Driving without a license or on a restricted license
  • Reckless driving

There are many other traffic violations, and some states are tougher on certain behaviors than others. Texting and driving, for example, is considered an infraction in some states, while it is a misdemeanor in others. Whatever the severity of your charge, a texting and driving lawyer may be able to get the punishment reduced.

Potential Consequences

A key difference between misdemeanor and infraction offenses is how they are handled by the courts. Regardless of which type of citation you receive, you will generally have points taken off of your license as a default.

Infractions can typically be paid off and do not require a court appearance, but you are allowed to come into court and contest the charge. Misdemeanors, on the other hand, will require you to appear in court at a specified date. There will usually be a higher fine for a misdemeanor, and jail time is a possibility. 

Even for the smallest offenses, defendants are always presumed innocent until proven guilty. If you have been recently charged with a traffic violation, there are traffic ticket lawyers who may be of assistance.