Traffic Violations

Traffic Ticket Offenses

What should you do if you have just received a traffic ticket or citation in Los Angeles? You might be inclined to take the path of least resistance and just pay the ticket and move on with your life. However, the fact is that in California, a conviction for a traffic ticket can end up costing you a lot in the long run: thousands of dollars, your privilege to drive, and perhaps even your freedom. If you have a traffic ticket, you should contact Damian Siwek, an experienced Los Angeles criminal defense attorney, at DCS Defense to schedule a no-cost confidential consultation to discuss your legal options.

California Traffic Ticket Law

Traffic Ticket violations are classified as either moving or non-moving violations. A moving violation is a California Vehicle Code violation that is committed while the car is in motion. Most moving violations are infractions, which can be resolved by paying a fine. Some moving violations are more serious and come with steep fines and jail time.

  • Speeding:  See California Vehicle Code sections §22348, §22349, §22350, §22356, §22400, §22405, and §22406) – Speeding is driving faster than the posted speed limit or faster than what is considered safe because of road conditions. Speeding is an infraction and a 1 point DMV violation, unless the speed is greater than 100 MPH, then it is a 2 point DMV violation (get four points in a year your license gets suspended). There are a variety of ways to get speeding tickets dismissed. For example, speed traps are illegal. If the police set up a speed trap and you got caught in it, the ticket is not valid. Radar and laser devices are sometimes out of calibration or incorrectly used, which can result in falsely high readings.
  • Running Red Lights (See California Vehicle Code sections §21462 and §22450) – Disobeying traffic signals is an infraction and a 1 point DMV violation. If you receive a ticket resulting from a camera capturing you running a red light, there are a variety of defenses available for getting the ticket dismissed. First, the prosecution must be able to prove that you were the driver and that you entered the intersection when the light was red. Just because it was your car does not necessarily mean that you were driving. Additionally, the city must be operating the red light camera system according to Vehicle Code regulations for the ticket to be legal.
  • Reckless Driving – Operating a motor vehicle with willful disregard of safety of people or property.
    • Reckless Driving with No Injury (See California Vehicle Code section §23103) is a misdemeanor and a 2 point violation.
    • Reckless Driving Resulting in Injury (See California Penal Code section §23104) can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the victim(s)’ injuries and is a 2 point DMV violation (The injured victim may be the driver).
    • A “Wet Reckless” is reckless driving while intoxicated. We may be able to obtain a wet reckless as a reduced charge to a client who has been charged with a DUI.
  • Drag Racing / Road Racing (See California Vehicle Code section §23109) – This can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony (a wobbler), depending on the amount of damage done or the victim’s injury (2 point DMV violation).
  • Drunk Driving (DUI/DWI) (See California Vehicle Code sections §23152 and §23153) – Driving under the Influence (of Alcohol and/or drugs) can be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony depending on the seriousness of the victim’s injuries, the blood alcohol content level of the driver and the driver’s history of drunk driving (2 point DMV violation).
  • Driving With or Possessing an Open Container of Alcohol (See California Vehicle Code sections §23221, §23222, §23223, and §23224) – Driving with an open container is an infraction and a 1 point DMV violation, unless the driver was drinking from the container, then it is a 2 point DMV violation. A passenger under 21 years old may not possess any alcohol in a vehicle, and if convicted will lose his or her license until age 21.
  • Driving on a Suspended License (See California Vehicle Code sections §14601, §14601 and §14601.1 to §14601.5) – Driving with a suspended or revoked license is a misdemeanor and is punishable by up to a year in county jail (with a prior conviction) three years of informal probation, and fines that may run over a thousand dollars (2 point DMV violation).
  • Warrants / FTA – An FTA is a “failure to appear” in Court on a bench warrant (i.e. a court order for your arrest). A driver given a ticket or citation to appear in court and who does not appear will be charged with an FTA or warrant for their arrest. You can get an FTA for failing to pay a ticket, or failing to complete traffic school by the specified date. An FTA will appear on a driver’s California DMV record, and clearing the FTA is a long and challenging process. FTA’s may be charged as misdemeanors, and expose you to arrest and jail. FTA’s stay on your record for at least 5 years and 10 years in most cases. Having an FTA can result in a driver’s license suspension. If you are stopped by a police officer, the police officer may arrest you and take you to jail. You could even receive a ticket for driving on a suspended license. FTA’s are a one point violation on your driving record. FTA’s appear on background checks and could jeopardize your employment opportunities. Loan agencies are inclined to reject loan applications when they see an FTA on your record.
  • Hit and Run (See California Vehicle Code sections §20001, §20001(a), §20002, and §20002(a) – A Hit and run may be charged regardless of who caused the collision. Each driver must stop and exchange information, or, if someone is hurt, assist that person. Hit and run violations apply to injuries to people and damage to property. If the injury is to property, it is charged as a misdemeanor. Hit and run with injury may be charged as either a misdemeanor or felony hit and run depending on the severity the victim’s injuries even if the fleeing driver did not cause the accident.
  • Evading a Police Officer (See California Vehicle Code sections §2800.1-3) – Evading a police officer can be charged when the driver knows that a police officer is in pursuit and does not stop. It is generally charged as a misdemeanor (2 point DMV violation). Felony evading can be charged where there is reckless driving or where there is serious injury or death.

Traffic Violation Penalties

Infractions: Traffic infraction convictions result in fines, community service, and points on your driving record, but usually do not appear on your criminal record. Paying the traffic ticket is the equivalent of pleading guilty to the offense.

Misdemeanors:  Misdemeanor traffic violations can result in significant fines, up to one year in county jail, community service, and three years of informal probation.

Felonies:  Traffic violation felonies are punishable in state prison or county jail. In addition to fines and jail time, unless you successfully fight the ticket/arrest or perform “traffic school” (if it is available to you), points accumulate on your driving record – the more serious the violation, the greater number of points. Only a certain number of points are allowed before the DMV designates the driver as a “Negligent Operator:”

  • 4 or more points in a 12 month period
  • 6 points in a 24 month period
  • 8 points in a 36 month period.

Being designated as a “Negligent Operator” results in a license suspension and driving restrictions. Points can cost you higher insurance premiums and, in some cases, can result in denial of insurance coverage. When you add everything together, mishandling or ignoring a traffic violation can cost you more than you imagined.

Los Angeles Traffic Ticket Defense Lawyer

Traffic tickets are a major inconvenience. They cost you a lot of money and waste your time. We will fight your ticket to keep your record clean. That may mean a potential savings for you of thousands of dollars in court fines and insurance premiums, a valid driver’s license, and your freedom. Do not wait until the last minute to deal with a traffic ticket. DCS Defense will handle everything for you and you may never have to go to court.

For aggressive and effective representation against traffic tickets, including a free confidential consultation, contact Los Angeles criminal defense attorney Damian Siwek at DCS Defense.