Traffic stops are common in the U.S. In fact, 44% of all face-to-face contact with law enforcement officers takes place during a traffic stop, according to the Bureau of Justice Statistics. When you have been pulled over, the majority of these occasions will result in minor citations, for example, you may be cited for speeding or for running a stop sign. However, there are instances when a violation of the traffic laws results in a criminal charge.
Driving-related violations are typically classified as one of three types: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. If you are facing criminal charges as a result of a traffic stop, it is imperative to contact a criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg as soon as possible.
Criminal charges may occur as a result of an alleged violation of Florida’s traffic and drive license laws. Here are three of the most common traffic law violations that are classified as criminal offenses:
Driving Under the Influence (DUI and DWI)
If you are charged with Driving Under the Influence (DUI) or Driving While Intoxicated (DWI), the consequences can be serious. Furthermore, if you have a child in the vehicle while driving under the influence, law enforcement may also make an arrest for child abuse or child neglect. Very often, an experienced criminal defense attorney may be able to persuade the State Attorney’s Office to decline to prosecute this felony offense based on a showing that no accident or injury occurred, the child was otherwise well cared for, and that the child was wearing a seatbelt.
Charges of DUI or DWI are very serious and can incur steep fines, revocation of your driver’s licence, community service, and even a jail sentence. If you have been arrested on charges of DUI, DWI, or a child abuse or child neglect charge associated with a DUI you should contact a defense attorney in St. Petersburg immediately.
Driving While Suspended, Revoked, or Disqualified
Although it may not seem like a serious matter, especially in the event that no accident or no injury was involved, driving while your license is suspended, revoked, or disqualified, if you knew your license was suspended is a criminal charge. Many people find that this charge has a “snowball effect,” where multiple driver license suspensions stack on each other and the crime of driving on a suspended license makes reinstating driving privileges very difficult or impossible. Your first conviction of driving with a suspended license with knowledge is a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by a maximum fine of $500 and a maximum of 60 days in jail. With each violation thereafter, the law provides for a series of escalating penalties, including enhancement to a first degree misdemeanor on a second offense, or a third degree felony on a third offense. A recent revision to Florida Law further provides for a minimum ten day jail sentence for multiple Driving while License Suspended with Knowledge convictions.
Reckless driving is defined as driving that is a willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property. As such Reckless Driving is treated as a criminal charge. But what is the difference between careless driving and reckless driving in the eyes of the law? Careless driving in the state of Florida is a civil traffic offense, while reckless driving is a criminal traffic offense and requires a court appearance with possible penalties ranging from a fine, probation, driver license suspension, or even jail time.
If you have been charged with a criminal charge as a result of a traffic violation, you should contact an experienced criminal defense attorney in St. Petersburg. It is important to understand your rights and discuss all possible avenues to resolve your case.
For a free consultation with a criminal defense attorney St. Petersburg, please contact Russo, Pelletier & Sullivan today.
Disclaimer: The information contained in this article is for general educational information only. This information does not constitute legal advice, is not intended to constitute legal advice, nor should it be relied upon as legal advice for your specific factual pattern or situation.