In most cases, a traffic ticket for a violation such as speeding is not a misdemeanor. However, in certain circumstances, a traffic violation can be elevated to the level of a misdemeanor or worse. Most often, a traffic violation will be elevated when there is either the threat or the presence of personal injury or property damage.
Traffic tickets can remain on your record for a number of years. Depending on the severity of the ticket and the state in which it was issues, the infraction may fade in as few as three years or remain for as long as 75 years.
Often the nature of the infraction determines how long the ticket remains on your record. A charge of driving while under the influence of drugs or alcohol may remain on your record for decades as required by law. By contrast, a simple speeding violation may only stay on your record for a few years and may even be able to be stricken or sealed before it fades.
Under no circumstances should you miss your traffic ticket hearing. The first reason is because you will likely be found in default. That means that because you didn’t show up, the court automatically declared that you are guilty and the ticket must be paid. This means you will have missed your only opportunity to appeal the ticket before the judge.
The second reason you shouldn’t miss your court date is because it can actually increase the amount of trouble you are in. In some states failure to appear in court is a crime with its own set of penalties and in some cases you may be charged with the criminal infraction of contempt of court. You should make every possible effort to appear for your traffic ticket hearing on time and with a traffic ticket attorney by your side.
How an attorney dismisses a ticket varies widely depending on the traffic infraction alleged and the state laws that were allegedly broken. For example, if you received a speeding ticked but your state has “presumed” speeding laws that loosely define the speed limit then your traffic ticket attorney may argue that you exceeded the speed limit in order to maintain safe speed with the rest of traffic or to overtake another driver.
Another example would be if your traffic infraction included allegations of driving under the influence. In that case, the attorney would likely scrutinize the testing process, arresting officer's testimony, or other parts of the process that may have incorrectly led to your being charged.
How much a traffic ticket costs varies depending on the infraction. Speeding tickets can cost tens or hundreds of dollars depending on many factors including where the speeding occurred, how far over the speed limit the driver was, and the conditions of the road while the speeding was occurring. Some traffic violations may have other penalties in addition to monetary fines.
The most common secondary penalty of traffic violations are “points” on your license. Someone who acquires a certain number of points on their driver’s license may have it suspended. If the defendant also has a commercial driver’s license, that too may be suspended. Another penalty can be time in jail or prison. This is often a possibility if the traffic violation led to some injury or property damage such as an auto accident.