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Traffic Ticket Crimes

Those accused of driving under the influence in Florida will not merely receive a traffic ticket. Instead, they will be placed under arrest.

However, it is common for DUI defendants to receive citations for other traffic violations in addition to the DUI. In some instances, the DUI could be negotiated down to a lesser offense, though it may still be a more serious offense than a traffic citation. Common citations include:

Some of these offenses are considered non-criminal traffic offenses. Others, like being an underage driver with a 0.02 BAC will result in an administrative license suspension. Others, like reckless driving, are misdemeanors or even felonies in cases where it results in serious bodily injury.

At The Ansara Law Firm, our Fort Lauderdale DUI defense attorneys will carefully examine all evidence in the case and challenge any assertions with the potential to reduce your jail time, fines and penalties.

Civil Traffic Ticket v. Criminal Traffic Ticket

The Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles (FLHSMV) reports in a single recent year, there were:

  • 353,000 criminal traffic violations;
  • 2 million non-criminal moving violations;
  • 800,000 non-criminal, non-moving infractions.

Of those, criminal infractions, about 13 percent were for DUI.

In general, there are two types of traffic citations in Florida:

  • Civil citations;
  • Criminal citations.

Civil citations are essentially a piece of paper issued to a motorist, pedestrian or bicyclist whom the officer has seen or believes violated civil traffic laws. These include non-moving offenses like parking citations.

These citations are filled out by the officer on site, usually through a series of checks. The accused violator will be informed of the prescribed fine and includes instructions on how you can pay that fine by mail or online, or how you can challenge it with a court appearance.

Civil traffic offenses won’t carry criminal penalties, like jail time, but they could still result in points assessed to your driver’s license. It may also result in higher insurance premiums and possible license suspension or revocation if you rack up too many points.

Know that when you pay a traffic ticket without fighting it, you are essentially pleading guilty to the offense as alleged. Having an experienced defense attorney to help guide you through the process improves your chances of a more favorable outcome.

Criminal traffic citations, meanwhile, could result in a ticket being issued, but it may also result in arrest. You will be charged with either a misdemeanor or felony, and you will be required to appear in district court for arraignment. At the arraignment, your charges will be read, your rights will be outlined and you will be asked to enter a plea of guilty or not guilty.

If you don’t show up to court, a warrant may be issued for your arrest for “failure to appear” (FTA).Per F.S. 843.15 , if you are released on bail after being charged in connection with a felony or while awaiting a sentence, FTA is a third-degree felony, punishable by five years in state prison. If you are charged with a misdemeanor, FTA is a first-degree misdemeanor, punishable by up to one year in jail.

Fighting a Traffic Ticket

If you are charged with a non-criminal traffic citation, that will be handled at the county level, rather than the district court state level.

The first step in fighting a traffic citation is to schedule a hearing. The ticket will provide instructions on how to do this, either in writing or by calling the traffic court clerk.

The next step is to hire a defense attorney. This is not mandated, but when you have a lawyer at your side representing your best interests, it improves the odds you will be successful.

From there, you need to organize all relevant evidence. Your attorney can help you with this step, as well as the next, which is pleading your case to the court.

Ultimately, the decision will rest with the judge. If you are found guilty, you may have the option to appeal. In some cases, an appeal can be more costly than the original fine. The cost-benefit analysis is something you will want to review with your lawyer.

If you have been arrested for DUI in Fort Lauderdale, call The Ansara Law Firm today for your free initial consultation at (954) 761-4011.

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