Traffic Violations Defense Attorneys in Clearwater, Florida
We tend to think traffic violations are much less serious than other offenses. To be clear, in many cases, they are less serious and carry less severe penalties than other driving charges like a DUI. However, just because a traffic violation doesn’t present an immediate risk does not mean it should be taken lightly. This is especially true if you’ve had more than one violation recently.
Also, it can be extremely beneficial to work with a lawyer to help fight a traffic violation, or else you could be looking at significant penalties. If you’re in the Clearwater, Florida area, including New Port Richey, Tampa, or St. Petersburg, and you’d like to speak with a criminal defense attorney, call us at The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A. for strong legal representation.
As far as driving offenses go, a traffic violation is typically the lowest-level offense. More serious offenses will reach the level of misdemeanor or even felony. These violations are typically what people think of when they get pulled over by a police officer for illegal actions like speeding, running a stop light, or driving with expired tags.
These violations are also categorized as “strict liability,” which means intent doesn’t need to be proven and is largely irrelevant. For example, if you’re pulled over because you weren’t wearing your seat belt while driving, it won’t matter why. Simply having forgotten to put it on will typically not change the charges.
Moving Violations vs Non-Moving Violations
Another way that traffic violations are categorized is as a moving or a non-moving violation. In general, non-moving violations are less serious than moving violations.
Moving violations: A “moving” violation occurs when the vehicle is in motion. This could include speeding, running a stop light, driving at night without working headlights, texting while driving, or making an illegal turn. It can also include more consequential offenses such as drunk driving or hit and runs.
Non-moving violations: A non-moving violation is any offense that occurs when the vehicle is stopped. This includes having expired registration tags or plates, parking tickets, equipment violations, or failing to have proper car insurance.
Although it’s true that non-moving infractions are less serious than moving violations, they can both negatively affect your driving record and will add points to your driver's license. Because of this, it’s essential to contact an attorney who can inform you of the impacts and fight for a clean driving record.
Understanding the Point System
Florida works on a point system that records your traffic violations, assigns a point value for each infraction, and then connects them to your driver's license. The more points a driver accumulates, the higher the fines and penalties they can face, which include license suspension or revocation. Therefore, if you’ve received multiple infractions, you could be facing stiff consequences which is why it’s vital to hire an attorney to fight the violation.
Not all violations earn the same number of points. Some of the more common infractions are listed below:
Failure to obey a traffic control device (like a stop sign or light): 4 points
Speeding: 3 points
Failure to yield the right-of-way to a pedestrian: 3 points
Reckless driving: 4 points
Prohibited U-turn: 3 points
Traffic Violation Fines and Penalties
The traffic violation fines and penalties you’ll face will depend on how many points you have on your license. For instance, if you accumulate 12 points within 12 months, your license will be suspended for 30 days, and if you accumulate 18 points within 18 months, your license will be suspended for three months. There may also be other penalties, such as fines and higher insurance premiums.
Fighting a Traffic Violation
There are a few ways to fight a traffic violation:
Disputing the Officer: If you were pulled over for a traffic violation (for instance, speeding), but the officer did not use a radar device to clock your speed, you could dispute the charge, claiming the officer was mistaken.
Disputing the Evidence: You may also choose to dispute the evidence brought forward by an officer. You may do this using eye-witness testimony, diagrams, or photos of the incident scene.
Mistake of Fact: A “mistake of fact” occurs when you’ve made a reasonable mistake under the circumstances that you would not have normally made. For example, if you’re on a road you drive every day for your commute and are ticketed for running a stop sign that was just installed the day before, a judge may let you off with a warning.
Action was Justified: Lastly, you may be able to prove your actions were justified. For instance, if you ran a stop sign because you were trying to get out of the way of a car that was speeding toward you the other way, your charges may be dismissed because your actions proved you were trying to avoid a larger accident.
Traffic Violations Defense Attorneys Serving
If you’re in the Clearwater, Florida, area and received one or more traffic violations, contact us at The Law Offices of Hoskins and Penton, P.A. to schedule a consultation. Our trusted team has the knowledge, experience, and resources to help you throughout the entire legal process.