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The difference between criminal and civil traffic violations

On Behalf of | Feb 17, 2024 | Criminal Law, Traffic Violations

Traffic violations are common occurrences on Florida roads, though many are minor infractions. However, not all traffic violations are equal under the law.

These violations can be broadly categorized into two main types: criminal and civil traffic violations. Florida drivers should know the key differences between these two categories.

Criminal traffic violations

Criminal traffic violations refer to offenses that are more severe. They typically imply harsher punishments and penalties. Examples of criminal traffic violations include street racing, hit-and-runs, driving under the influence and reckless driving.

Individuals charged with criminal traffic violations may face serious consequences. These can include hefty fines, license suspension, community service and even imprisonment in severe cases. Criminal traffic offenses also tend to leave a permanent mark on one’s criminal record. This leads to long-lasting implications on employment opportunities and personal reputation.

Civil traffic violations

On the other hand, civil traffic violations are generally less severe infractions. Examples of civil traffic violations include speeding tickets, running red lights and improper lane changes.

Civil traffic violations typically require the payment of fines or participation in defensive driving courses. These penalties are generally less severe compared to the consequences associated with criminal traffic violations.

Unlike criminal traffic violations, civil infractions do not typically result in jail time. However, repeated civil traffic violations can lead to escalating penalties, such as increased fines or the suspension of driving privileges.

According to the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles, there were a total of 322,019 criminal moving violations in the state in 2022. For the numerous motorists who face traffic violation charges each year, it is important to know what sets criminal traffic violations apart from milder civil traffic violations.