Traffic crimes in California involve more than just getting a speeding ticket. Most traffic violations will result in a fine, points on your driving record, and possibly higher insurance rates. However, some traffic violations can result in criminal prosecution, including misdemeanor and felony crimes.
In addition to fines and higher insurance rates, traffic crimes can result in the loss of your license, community service, mandatory classes, and even jail time. If you have been charged with a traffic crime in the East Bay, talk to an experienced criminal defense attorney about fighting the charges. Common traffic crimes in California include:
- Driving on a Suspended License
- Driving Without Insurance
- Evading Police
- Hit and Run
- Open Container
- Reckless Driving
- Failure to Stop at the Scene of an Accident
A conviction for certain traffic crimes can result in a suspended license. The length of the suspension will depend on the violation and the driver's history. License suspensions can last anywhere from 30 days to more than a year. Multiple violations may result in a Negligent Operator license suspension.
To get your driver's license reinstated, you may need to meet the requirements of the court, including paying all court costs and fines and waiting out the suspension period.
In some cases, you can lose your license even if you are never convicted of a crime. The most common reasons for getting a suspended license without a conviction are for a DUI arrest or refusing a chemical test.
Under California's “implied consent” laws, you can have your license suspended simply for getting arrested on suspicion of a DUI or for refusing to submit to a breath, blood, or urine test. Drivers arrested for a DUI will automatically have their license suspended if they do not request a DMV hearing within 10 days. Refusing a chemical test after an impaired driving arrest can result in a 1-year suspension of your license.
Other driving-related penalties that follow a traffic crime violation may include:
- Ignition interlock device (IID)
- SR-22 proof of financial responsibility
- Paying fines and court costs
- DUI school or traffic school
- Restricted license (limited to driving to and from work or school)
Most traffic violations will not result in criminal penalties beyond a fine or suspended license. However, some traffic crimes are categorized as misdemeanors or felonies. These can carry both maximum and minimum jail time for a conviction. Some of the most serious traffic crimes that may result in mandatory jail time may include:
- Leaving the scene of a serious accident;
- Evading police;
- Multiple drunk driving violations;
- DUI causing injury or death; and
- Vehicular manslaughter.
In addition to jail time, a conviction will result in a criminal record. Most criminal records in California are considered public records. This means that anyone can search a person's background to discover criminal convictions. Prior convictions can also increase the penalties for subsequent criminal violations.
Don't Ignore Traffic Violations
Even minor traffic violations can result in an arrest. If traffic violations are not paid or the driver fails shows up in court to address the violation, the court may issue a bench warrant. If you have a bench warrant, the police may arrest you and take you to jail. If a bench warrant has been issued for traffic violations, contact a lawyer to help you recall the warrant so you will not face getting arrested for simple traffic violations.
East Bay Traffic Crime Lawyer
It can be difficult to get by in California without a car. Traffic crimes can mean the loss of your license, which can impact your ability to get to work or go to school. Fighting criminal charges will mean you can avoid jail time, keep your license, and keep your record clean. With more than 30 years of criminal defense experience, Lynn Gorelick understands how to approach the individual facts of each case for the greatest chance of success. If you are facing criminal charges anywhere in Contra Costa County or Alameda County, contact us today.