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Know the Difference Between Petty and Misdemeanor Traffic Violations

 Posted on October 08, 2020 in Criminal Defense

Joliet traffic violations lawyerThe rules of the road are put in place to keep everyone safe, including car and truck drivers, pedestrians, bicyclists, and motorcyclists. When someone violates a traffic law, he or she may be subject to a traffic ticket. Speeding or failure to stop or yield are examples of common reasons an individual might be issued a traffic ticket by law enforcement in Illinois. Other, more serious traffic violations could result in an arrest and criminal charges, such as driving under the influence (DUI) of drugs or alcohol. A conviction for DUI can result in loss of driving privileges, which can directly affect a person’s way of life. Depending on the circumstances, a driver may have several legal options, such as paying a fine, going to court to fight the ticket, or attending traffic school. If you are facing any charges related to a traffic violation, an experienced attorney can represent your best interests and help you achieve a positive outcome.    

Driving Is a Privilege, Not a Right

Many people believe that operating a vehicle is a privilege, not a guaranteed right. Therefore, it should be taken seriously in order to not put anyone in danger or harm’s way. Obtaining a driver’s license in Illinois requires residents to complete classroom training, a certain number of driving hours behind the wheel, and a written test. Once they have their license, they are responsible for obeying the traffic laws.

In many cases, a minor traffic violation can be resolved without going to court if the driver pays the fine and admits guilt. However, this will typically result in a conviction on the driver’s record. A driver may prefer to have a court hearing to work out a negotiated plea deal. Court appearances are mandatory for certain traffic offenses, such as DUI, reckless driving, and driving without a valid license or proof of insurance. It is also important to note that in Illinois, it is illegal to text or use a cell phone in any form while driving.

Penalties for traffic violations in Illinois can range from a $100 fine for a parking violation to a jail sentence of 10+ years for offenses that cause a fatality. In other cases, a driver could have his or her license suspended or revoked for certain violations. Under Illinois law, most traffic charges are classified as petty or misdemeanor offenses.

Petty Traffic Offenses

Petty traffic violations include going through a stop sign or red light, speeding, and lane change violations. They are generally punished by fines ranging from $1 to $1,000. If the defendant has a good driving record, a court may issue supervision. This usually means the defendant must pay a fine and/or attend traffic school and is placed on supervision for a designated amount of time. As long as the defendant adheres to the conditions of the court order, his or her case will be dismissed after the supervised period is over. Most importantly, it will not result in a conviction on his or her driving record. 

Misdemeanor Traffic Offenses

For those drivers who are convicted of committing more egregious traffic violations, they may be charged with a misdemeanor. Misdemeanors are divided into three classes: A, B, and C. 

Class A misdemeanors are the most serious and include DUI, driving 35 mph or more over the posted speed limit, and driving while on a suspended or revoked license. The potential punishment for a Class A misdemeanor is up to one year in prison and/or a fine up to $2,500.

Class B misdemeanors can result in driving on a license that is expired and driving between 26 and 35 mph over the posted speed limit. These carry penalties of up to six months in jail and/or a fine of $1,500.

Class C misdemeanors are the lowest class and could be issued for intentionally destroying or removing a traffic sign. Those convicted could face up to 30 days in jail and/or a fine up to $1,000.

If a motorist is convicted of three moving violations within one year, petty or misdemeanor, the Illinois Secretary of State can suspend his or her driving privileges for up to six months. A judge may issue a sentence that may include several provisions. They can include payment of a fine and court costs, mandatory attendance at a traffic safety school, an order of supervision, probation, community service, prison time, or a combination of any of these. 

Contact a Will County Criminal Defense Attorney

Although some traffic violations may seem minor, they can quickly add up and cause you to lose your driver’s license or worse. Depending on the offense, you may be facing significant penalties, including costly fines and time behind bars. That is why it is crucial to consult a reputable Joliet traffic violations lawyer who is well-versed in Illinois traffic laws. At McNamara Phelan McSteen, LLC, we will work with you so you can keep your driving privileges intact. To arrange a free consultation, call our office today at 815-727-0100.





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