Many traffic infractions are violations of the law, but not at the criminal level. If you don’t pay a parking ticket or don’t do a full stop at a stop sign, you could receive a citation and fines, and you aren’t going to be charged with a crime or face jail time. However, while such a traffic violation is not considered a crime, it may be enhanced to a criminal case under more consequential circumstances, such as an injury or death.
Some examples of traffic crimes that you could face criminal charges for include:
- Driving while impaired (DWI);
- Driving under the influence (DUI);
- Driving while your license is suspended or revoked;
- Reckless driving;
- Fleeing from an accident;
- Fleeing from a police officer;
- Failure to appear in court or comply with legal orders.
Certain behaviors like the above could lead to misdemeanor or felony charges beyond mere violations of traffic laws. New York criminalizes specific types of driving behaviors, so it is important to understand whether you have simply been accused of a moving violation or whether you have been accused of a criminal act. To better understand which traffic violations are criminal, let’s examine the two more serious types of traffic violations.
Misdemeanor Traffic Violations
Driving on a suspended license is considered a misdemeanor crime. If you are pulled over on a suspended license that you may have received due to your failure to appear in court for driving without a license or with an expired registration, your next court dealing will be considered a criminal traffic case in New York.
Driving under the influence (DUI) or driving while impaired (DWI) are also both considered misdemeanors. Additionally, depending on the circumstances or driving conditions at the time, a ticket for reckless driving can also count as a misdemeanor.
Penalties for misdemeanor traffic crimes in New York might be:
- Jail for up to 1 year;
- Points on your license;
- Increased auto insurance;
- Fines up to $1,000.
Felony Traffic Violations
Felony traffic violations, on the other hand, have more drastic consequences. Felony traffic crimes can be repeat DUIs, repeat DWIs, or fleeing the scene of an accident, to name a few. Be aware that these felonies will be considered more severe when the consequences of your actions are injury or death to an innocent third party. Even a traffic infraction such as reckless driving can be considered a felony if the accident results in the death of another person. However, note that traffic felonies are a Class E felony, which can sometimes be negotiated down to a misdemeanor with the right lawyer.
Penalties for a felony traffic crime in New York include:
- Jail time from 1 year up to a life sentence;
- Loss of privileges such as voting, firearm possession, and operating licenses;
- Points added to, or revocation of, your license;
- Fines up to $10,000.
If you have been charged with a traffic violation, it will be important to know what constitutes a minor infraction and what constitutes a criminal violation. The consequences of misdemeanor and felony traffic violations are much more serious, as you may face significant jail time and fines. An experienced traffic lawyer can help you negotiate lower charges and defend your case against a harsh traffic sentence. Speak with our team today before settling your case.
Contact us at Martin A. Kron & Associates, P.C. for a consultation today!