Traffic Violations - An Overview

Traffic ViolationsAlthough many traffic offenses may not carry the same stigma and penalties as other, more serious crimes, even the lower-level offenses can result in significant fines, loss of driving privileges, and increased insurance rates. The more serious offenses, or even some less serious violations if they are part of a series of violations by the same offender, can result in imprisonment. Thus, traffic charges should not be taken lightly. An attorney can explain the possible consequences of the various violations and represent those charged with traffic offenses throughout the resolution of the matter, taking some of the mystery out of the process and increasing the chances of the least serious outcome.

Traffic Infractions or Violations

In most states, no particular criminal intent is required to convict a person of a minor traffic offense. This concept is sometimes referred to as strict liability. The only proof needed is evidence that the person charged actually committed the prohibited act. For example, if there is reliable evidence of speeding, it need not also be proven that the driver intended to exceed the speed limit; it rarely matters for liability purposes if the speeding was inadvertent or purposeful. Strict-liability traffic offenses typically include such violations as failure to use turn signals, failure to yield, turning into the wrong lane, driving a car with burned-out headlights, failure to use towbars when towing another vehicle, parking next to a yellow curb, parking in a handicap spot without the required permit, overdue parking meters, and exceeding the speed limit.

Traffic Misdemeanors and Felonies

Almost every traffic violation becomes a misdemeanor or felony if it involves injury to a person or destruction of property. A person who changes lanes without signaling and hits another car can be charged with the misdemeanor crime of reckless driving or even vehicular homicide if the lane-changer was attempting to inflict serious bodily injury and the other driver is killed. In addition, some traffic offenses are legally defined as misdemeanors or felonies, such as driving with a revoked license and leaving the scene of an accident. A person accused of these more serious traffic offenses is entitled to all criminal procedures, including the right to a court-appointed attorney and a jury trial.


The primary purpose of traffic-violation laws and regulations is to deter unsafe driving and to educate and reform bad drivers. Even good drivers, however, for whom safety is a priority, can be charged with a traffic violation. If you or someone you know has been charged with breaking a traffic law, a criminal defense attorney with experience in handling traffic violations can explain the procedures and possible penalties that await you, and can work with you to ensure the best possible outcome.

Traffic Violations Resource Links

State Transportation Web Sites (DOTs and DMVs)
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety's mission is to identify problems, foster research that seeks solutions, and disseminate information and educational materials that promote good traffic safety practices.

State Statutes on Motor Vehicles
This Web page provides links to state statutes on motor vehicles. The Web page is provided by Wex, a product of the Legal Information Institute (LII) at the Cornell Law School.

What Happens if I'm Stopped by an Officer of the Law?
This Web page is provided by the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and includes information intended to help drivers who are stopped by police officers.

With offices in Media, Pennsylvania, criminal defense, personal injury, & family law lawyers John E. Kusturiss, Jr. and Alyssa K. Poole represent clients throughout Philadelphia, Montgomery County, Chester County, and Delaware County, including the communities of Media, Upper Providence, Middletown, Springfield, Morton, Ridley, Rose Valley, Norwood, Folcroft, Collingdale, Aldan, East Lansdowne, Upper Darby, Yeadon, Colwyn, Brookhaven, Aston, Upland, Newton, Marple, Haverford, Broomall, Woodlyn, West Chester, Avondale, Kennett Square, Concordville, Norristown and Ardmore. Mr. Kusturiss and Ms. Poole are licensed to practice in New Jersey, and Mr. Kusturiss is also licensed in Washington, D.C.

Traffic Violations Resource Links

Summary of State Speed Laws

This publication is distributed by the US Department of Transportation, National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) and includes a Summary Table on Aggressive Driving Laws, a Summary Table of State Speed Laws, a Summary Table of Special Sanctions for Exceeding the Speed Limit in Either a Construction or School Zone, a State by State Analysis of statutes (or regulations) concerning speed limit or speed related violations, and an Appendix summarizing the Uniform Vehicle Code's (UVC) provisions related to speed.

American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA): Information for the Public

The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) serves as an information clearinghouse and develops model programs in motor vehicle administration, law enforcement, and highway safety. The AAMVA's Information for the Public Web site contains links to information identified by its staff as relevant to the general public.

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