What is a traffic ticket?

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Jeffrey Johnson is a legal writer with a focus on personal injury. He has worked on personal injury and sovereign immunity litigation in addition to experience in family, estate, and criminal law. He earned a J.D. from the University of Baltimore and has worked in legal offices and non-profits in Maryland, Texas, and North Carolina. He has also earned an MFA in screenwriting from Chapman Univer...

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UPDATED: Jul 16, 2021

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A traffic ticket is the general term used to describe an official notice issued to drivers by law enforcement. This notice is issued because of traffic laws the driver was not obeying.  A traffic ticket can be issued for violations that take place while the vehicle is in motion as well as when it is parked.

Are there different types of traffic tickets? 

Under the umbrella of “traffic ticket,” there are two classifications: “moving violations” and “non-moving violations.” Typically, moving violations are more serious. They may entail larger fines or they may result in points being assessed that go on your license, marring your driving record. Too many points on your license can lead to the loss of that license, as well as an increase in your insurance premium rates. 

There are a variety of different types of moving violations. These include:

  • Speeding 
  • Reckless driving
  • Driving with a suspended license 
  • Running a red light.

Examples of non-moving violations include:

  • Expired parking meters 
  • Parking in restricted areas 
  • Expired tabs.

What are the consequences of a traffic ticket?  

Traffic tickets vary in severity depending on the nature of the violation, and the punishments associated with them vary as well. Some traffic tickets for very small offenses require only the payment of a fine, which can be mailed in. In many cities an expired parking meter results in a traffic ticket of $10, which you can mail to the city office. Other violations can involve serious car accidents and vehicular homicide and can result in years in prison, fines up to thousands of dollars, and a loss of driving privileges.

If you are dealing with a traffic ticket, especially for a moving violation, you may want to think about talking to a lawyer. An attorney can help you to fight a traffic ticket or plea bargain the ticket down so you can avoid protect your driving history. 

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