The average person drives about 13,500 miles per year. That is, at least 13,500 opportunities to be stopped by police, resulting in tickets, tow fees, license suspensions, and even criminal charges and arrests. Most of us must drive to get to work, school, and care for ourselves and our families. For others, driving is their very livelihood. If you or a loved one has been stopped for a traffic offense, arrested for a traffic crime, or drive under the constant fear that your suspended driver’s license will be discovered by police, you may find yourself asking:
- Will I be charged with a crime?
- Will my license be suspended?
- How do I get my license back?
Understanding the Problem
If you have been involved in a traffic offense, you may not know exactly what the consequences of that offense are until after the fact. The first question is, “what sort of offense is it?” Misdemeanor charges can have serious consequences, including fines, jail time, and license suspension, but even simple traffic tickets can start you on a downward spiral of suspensions, fines, fees, and eventually criminal charges. Some of the most common traffic problems include:
- Traffic Tickets (Infractions or Ordinance Violations)
- Driver’s License Suspensions
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident
- Special problems for Commercial Drivers
Learn more about your traffic problem:
- Traffic Tickets (Infractions or Ordinance Violations): Traffic tickets are simple matters for the experienced attorneys at the Stracci Criminal Defense Team. For most traffic tickets, you can hire us to defend you for roughly the same amount of money the ticket would cost if you just paid the fine. However, by hiring us, you would likely be spared the points on your driving record and other costly consequences that may arise from receiving a traffic ticket. Many people believe they can handle such a simple thing on their own because few people realize how complex tickets can get. Numerous questions may arise which you may need assistance with, for instance: Is the infraction even against the law? Were you improperly ticketed for an ordinance violation on a state highway? Were you going fast enough to be charged with a crime? Did you have insurance at the time? How many points on my driving record will a conviction result in? Will the points you would receive for pleading guilty to the new infraction, coupled with your existing points, result in your having to take a traffic safety class or face a license suspension? Being able to answer these questions can make the difference between staying on the road and unwittingly subjecting yourself to continued license suspensions, hassles, and expenses that can go on for years.
- Driver’s License Suspensions: Driving on a suspended license is no small matter. Even if you have never done it before, you can be given a ticket with a hefty fine, have your car towed, and receive additional suspensions. This is not a ticket that you just want to pay and go on your way! Once you pay this ticket, for the next 10 years, all future Driving While Suspended charges are no longer just tickets -- each and every time you are charged with another Driving While Suspended, you will be charged with a Class A Misdemeanor and may be taken to jail and forced to pay a bond to be released in addition to the consequences mentioned above. Class A Misdemeanors are punishable by up to a year in jail and a $5,000.00 fine. The good news is that if your license is currently suspended, there are ways to fix it.
- Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Everyone knows that leaving the scene of an accident is against the law. But many do not know that it can range from a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to 6 months in jail, up to a Level 3 Felony, punishable by up to 16 years in prison. This can be true even if it was not your fault! But “leaving,” “scene,” and “accident” have complex and nuanced meanings that can make the difference between a major felony and no crime at all. Rest assured, we have successfully litigated these types of cases.
- Special Problems for Commercial Drivers: If you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL), you depend on that license to provide for yourself and your family. Many commercial drivers are owner-operators. For them, loss of driving privileges means closing their business. As any truck driver will tell you, everything is harder with a CDL. Moving infractions cannot be deferred, equipment requirements are stricter, and violations can result in loss of commercial driving privileges, even if your license is not suspended. We understand the importance of keeping commercial drivers on the road. Contact us to learn more about how we can help protect your family, your business, and your livelihood.
- Habitual Traffic Violators: Something as simple as a ticket can result in a driver’s license suspension, but that doesn’t mean driving is not still a necessity. Unfortunately, as people must continue to drive, tickets and misdemeanor convictions start to pile up. If within 10 years you receive 10 “moving violation” tickets or 3 “major violation” convictions, the BMV can declare you a Habitual Traffic Violator and suspend your license for up to 10 years! Driving after this could be a Level 6 Felony punishable by up to 2 ½ years in jail. There are, however, ways to undo an HTV determination and other ways to help keep you driving even if you are HTV. We can get HTV drivers back on the road quicker than you might imagine.
- Specialized Driving Privileges: Even if there is no way to get rid of a suspension, regardless of how long, it doesn’t mean that there is no way to drive legally. A court can grant you “specialized driving privileges,” which many people know as a “hardship license.” The terms of these privileges vary wildly depending on why you are suspended and what court you are in. Since life is more than just the morning commute, these privileges can include driving for work, child care, caring for parents, school, charitable work, and basic life necessities. Contact us to learn more about whether you qualify for specialized driving privileges and where you might be able to go with them.
What to Expect After a Traffic Offense
If you have been accused of a traffic offense, you will likely receive a court date. If it is a ticket, you will have the option to just pay it. But, think twice before you do. Simply paying that ticket could result in higher insurance rates, a suspended license, loss of commercial driving privileges, and a basis to charge you with a misdemeanor crime later. If you’ve been charged with a criminal traffic offense, you will also receive a court date. In some cases, the court may ask if you just want to plead guilty. DON’T DO IT! While you are unlikely to get jail time in such a scenario, these offenses are nothing like traffic tickets. Your guilty plea will result in a criminal conviction and, likely, high fines, multiple license suspensions, hundreds or thousands of dollars in fees, and perhaps even a habitual traffic violator determination. “Simple” traffic misdemeanors like driving while suspended, leaving the scene of an accident, and reckless driving can be just as destructive to your family, finances, and livelihood as being convicted of Operating While Intoxicated.
Without a strong, knowledgeable advocate on your side, you may end up with unnecessary jail time or an endless and overwhelming cycle of license suspensions and exorbitant fees. You might end up entangled with the police, the courts, and the BMV for years to come, all ending up years down the line with felony charges for simply driving to work. Whether your case is a traffic ticket, felony HTV, or a suspended license, all traffic cases require a careful, thorough, and resourceful defense.
Schedule a Free, Thorough Consultation About Your Northwest Indiana Traffic Case
The Stracci Law Group team will help you out of your traffic jam with skill and foresight. We have years of experience helping people with big traffic problems get back on the road legally and making sure people with small traffic violations don't turn into big problems. To discuss your traffic problem, no matter how big or small, contact the Stracci Law Group today at (219) 525-1000.