How to Handle a Traffic Offense

Traffic offenses are something that nearly every driver will have to deal with in their life. Maybe you weren’t paying attention to your speed and got going a little too fast, or your meter ran out while you were busy and you came back to discover a ticket on your windshield. Even though you didn’t intend to break the law, you were still issued a citation. If this is your first ticket, you may be unsure how to proceed.

Citations are issued for various violations of Kansas traffic law. They will typically include a statute or code number of the violation as well as an explanation of how to pay the fine or respond to the ticket. When you receive a citation, you must respond, by paying the fine, or by appearing in court. If you do not respond, a warrant may be issued for your arrest and your license could be suspended.

The Differences Between Traffic Offenses

Moving and Non-Moving Violations

Traffic citations are divided into two categories, based on the reason the ticket was issued. Your ticket will be classified as either a moving or non-moving violation.

  • Moving violations occur when the vehicle is in motion. These include: speeding, driving under the influence (DUI), or operating a vehicle without a valid license or insurance, failure to signal, or texting while driving.
  • Non-moving violations are violations involving paperwork, equipment, or parking. These include: parking violations, illegal window tint, missing or expired license plates, or defective lights.

Classifying Traffic Offenses

Traffic offenses fall into three categories: infraction, misdemeanor, and felony. Infractions, also known as violations, come with the least consequences, and usually only require a fine. The most severe offenses are classified as felonies, and often carry sentences of prison time. The severity of the offense is determined by the amount of danger posed to others, or the amount of damage incurred. An infraction is commonly issued for driving a few miles per hour over the limit, driving with taillights that don’t work, or a similar offense. A misdemeanor can be driving without a valid license or insurance, a DUI, or reckless driving. A felony will likely involve injury or extensive damage, leaving the scene of an accident or vehicular manslaughter or homicide.

What Can You Do?

If you receive a traffic citation, you have several options. Lesser citations do not require you to appear in court, and you can admit guilt by paying your fine. The back of the citation will have information on how to pay. Depending on the county, you may be able to pay your ticket online. If you choose to pay your fine by mail, include the citation number on the check or money order. In many jurisdictions, paying a traffic ticket is considered an admission of guilt. For smaller tickets, it may be worth paying the fine to avoid court and the associated costs that come with it. For more severe tickets that can have lasting consequences or cost you thousands of dollars in fines, you may wish to connect with a traffic lawyer to help you fight the ticket.

If you decide to appear in court to dispute your ticket, you must arrive on your scheduled date and enter a plea of “not guilty.” You may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, but if no agreement is reached, a trial will be scheduled to fight the ticket in front of a judge or jury. If you are required to appear in court, you must appear. If you do not, a warrant will be issued for your immediate arrest and your license can be suspended. It is important to contact an experienced traffic lawyer if this happens, as a traffic attorney will be able to fight even the most serious charges in court.

What to Do After a Traffic Conviction

Maintaining a good driving record for several years can help clear your record of former traffic convictions, so you should be sure to drive safely and obey all traffic laws. You can take a defensive driving course or traffic school course to clear your record more quickly. If your insurance premiums were raised because of your conviction, you should ask your insurer if a defensive driving or traffic school course can help you lower your premiums again.

Did you receive a traffic ticket? Johnson County DUI attorneys at Martin and Wallentine, LLC can help you fight it. Contact us to learn what we can do to keep your driving record clear.

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