Traffic Violations

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Criminal Traffic Violations in Michigan

If you have had the unfortunate occurrence of getting pulled over and cited for a criminal traffic violation in Michigan there are a few things that you should know. 

There is a difference between civil and criminal traffic violations. A civil traffic violation is considered a non-criminal offense and is classified as a “civil infraction”, while a criminal traffic violation is classified as a crime and could be either a misdemeanor or a felony. This means that if you are convicted of a criminal traffic offense, you will have a criminal record. 

Examples of Criminal Traffic Violations:

What is the difference between a civil and criminal traffic ticket?

A civil infraction traffic ticket is not a crime and will not show up on a criminal background check. A civil infraction traffic ticket will usually have a fine attached to it, but jail time cannot be imposed for a civil ticket. A civil infraction traffic ticket may show up on your Master Driving Record though and it could impact your insurance. Criminal traffic tickets are commonly misdemeanors, which are punishable by jail time and fines. 

The normal procedures for criminal law also apply to criminal traffic tickets. This means that the offense must be proven beyond a reasonable doubt. A civil infraction traffic ticket only needs to be proven by a “more likely than not” standard, which is a lower standard of proof. A person who was charged with a criminal traffic offense will be given court dates, starting with an arraignment and pre-trial conference. The defendant will be required to meet with the criminal prosecutor, and if a plea agreement is not reached, then the case will proceed to a criminal trial. 

Impact of a Traffic Ticket?

The impact of a traffic ticket depends on the severity of the ticket and charge. If you plead responsible to a civil traffic ticket, you likely will face having points added to your driving record and a fine. This could also result in higher insurance rates. If you are convicted of a criminal traffic ticket, you could face jail time, fines, court costs, points on your driving record, and higher insurance rates as well. So why hire a criminal defense attorney for your traffic ticket? The good news is, there are ways to keep the damage that a traffic ticket, whether a civil infraction or a misdemeanor, to a minimum. Often times, we are able to negotiate a lower ticket, a ticket that carries fewer or no points, or even a ticket that is not reportable to the Secretary of State (thus keeping points off and insurance costs down)!

If you have been issued a traffic citation contact Tanis Schultz, PLLC today to discuss your options with our Grand Rapids criminal defense attorneys. 


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