Traffic offenses are called moving violations, and the state assigns points on the driving records. Each state has a slightly different system for the number of points for different violations. However, even if you only commit infractions, but do it on a continuous basis, you risk having your license suspended or revoked.
Besides causing legal problems, getting a lot of tickets or getting a ticket for a serious traffic offense, one that endangers others on the road, can affect your standard of living because you will have to pay more for car insurance. In addition, it might affect your employment if driving is necessary for your job, either as a commuter or someone who drives a company vehicle.
Here is a quick breakdown of some of the issues that have ramifications on your driving record.
1. Accidents caused by uninsured drivers.
If you drive without insurance and get involved in a car accident, then you may have to get SR22 insurance. Despite its name, this is not insurance in the usual sense of the word. It is a certificate of insurance to show financial responsibility. This document is required by the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) because you are considered a high-risk insurance policy holder. Usually, it’s mandated by the state or required by the court. Other occasions when you might have to carry SR-22 is if you have DUI convictions or have been found guilty of reckless driving.
2. Excessive Speeding
Excessive speeding is considered driving 15 -20 or more mph over the posted speed limit. The reason this is considered a traffic offense is because the faster you drive, the harder it is to stop in time to prevent an accident. For instance, if you were driving at 55 mph and accelerated to 10 mph more, you would need about 100 feet to come to a complete stop. This is why going at 55 mph on a road with, say, a 35 mph posted speed limit is considered a driving offense—even if you are driving on a straight, clear road.
In some states, like Illinois, excessive speeding is considered such a serious offense that you could face a fine of up to $2,500 and a year in jail.
3. Drinking and Driving.
Driving after you’ve had a few drinks is called either a DUI (driving under the influence) or DWI (driving while intoxicated). While “influence” usually refers to alcohol, it can also refer to other substances. As a first time offender, you might just have your license suspended, pay a fine, or do some jail time.
However, if you do it again, then the penalties can become far more severe. According to the United States Department of Transportation, "Every day, 28 people in the United States die in an alcohol-related vehicle crash—that's one person every 53 minutes. Drunk driving fatalities have fallen by a third in the last three decades; however, the chance of being in an alcohol-impaired crash is still one in three over the course of a lifetime. These deaths and damages contribute to a cost of $52B per year."
While we've talked about infractions, it's also important to understand what is meant by the terms misdemeanors and felonies to get a broader understanding about moving violations. Here are two examples:
- Hit -and-run driving. If you leave the scene of an accident, even if nobody was injured, it’s considered a crime. However, the consequences are even worse if injuries were involved, including facing a hit-and-run charge, paying a heavy fine, losing your driving privileges, and jail time. In some states, a hit-and-run could be considered a misdemeanor, while in others, like New York, it is considered a felony, even if there were no fatalities. However, in all states, if someone is killed, then it’s considered a felony hit-and-run.
- Vehicular manslaughter. This is a fatality due to not paying attention to the road, the lapse in judgement may be due to distraction, e.g. texting or calling on a mobile phone, or drinking and driving. Usually, manslaughter results in criminal or civil charges