Once you’ve been charged with a criminal traffic violation, your ability to live your life will be put on hold. Your driver’s license could be immediately suspended, you could be ordered to pay a high fine, or you could be arrested and held in county jail. If you’re convicted of a traffic crime, your criminal record could prevent you from living where you want, pursuing your career, or maintaining your personal relationships.
The consequences for traffic crimes can be severe, so you should never pay a ticket or plead guilty to a charge without an experienced lawyer on your side. Attorney George Reres can help you challenge traffic tickets and fight against criminal accusations, getting you the best outcome possible in your case. Call us today at 954-523-3811 or complete our contact form to schedule your confidential consultation.
Common Traffic Offenses in Florida
Florida laws include a wide range of motor vehicle offenses, and each one is either charged as a civil infraction or criminal violation. Civil traffic infractions—such as running a red light or speeding—are only punishable by a fine. Criminal traffic violations are punishable by jail or prison sentences, probation, and other conditions depending on whether the offense is a felony or a misdemeanor.
We represent clients charged with both civil and criminal traffic offenses, including:
- Driving without a license
- Driving while license suspended (DWLS)
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Texting and driving
- Highway racing
- Fleeing to elude police
- Second refusal to submit to testing
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Careless or reckless driving
- Failure to report an accident or making a false crash report
- Traffic homicide or manslaughter
- Refusal to comply with a lawful order from a member of law enforcement, fire department, traffic accident investigation, or traffic infraction enforcement
- Obstructing a street or highway for solicitation purposes
- Filing a false affidavit in response to a red light camera ticket
- Commercial Driver's License (CDL) violations (such as willful violation of load restrictions or violation of federal regulations regarding hazardous materials)
Potential Penalties for Motor Vehicle Offenses in Florida
In all traffic cases, defendants run the risk of losing their auto insurance or being forced to pay higher premiums for being a high-risk driver. You may also be issued points on your license or lose your driving privileges outright through suspension or revocation of your driver’s license.
Court penalties vary depending on the extent or nature of the crime. For example, you could face misdemeanor or felony traffic charges for:
- Suspended or Revoked Driver’s License. A driver who operates a vehicle while knowing that their driver’s license is invalid may be charged with a second-degree misdemeanor, punishable by 60 days in jail and fines up to $500.
- Reckless driving. Penalties for reckless driving depend on the severity of the crime. A first conviction may result in up to 90 days in jail and fines up to $500. Second or additional convictions may result in up to 6 months in jail and fines up to $1,000. An offense that results in property damage or bodily harm on a victim may be charged as a third-degree felony, punishable by up to 5 years in prison and fines up to $5,000.
- Leaving the scene. If a driver is involved in a motor vehicle accident but fails to remain at the crash site, they may be charged with a third-degree felony and face a prison sentence up to 5 years and a $5,000 fine. If a driver leaves a crash site where a victim has suffered severe injuries, they may be charged with a second-degree felony, and face a prison sentence up to 15 years and a $10,000 fine. If a driver leaves a crash site where a victim has died, they may be charged with a first-degree felony and face a prison sentence up to 30 years and a $10,000 fine. In addition to fines and prison time, an offender will also be required to make restitution to the victims (or the victims’ families) for the damages and losses resulting from the accident.
- Vehicular homicide. People who kill another human being or an unborn child in a vehicular accident face severe punishments under the law. These accidents are charged as either a second-degree felony (punishable by a fine of up to $10,000 and imprisonment up to 15 years), or a first-degree felony (punishable by a fine of up to $15,000 and up to life imprisonment). In addition to court punishment, defendants may be ordered to complete 120 hours of community service in trauma centers serving vehicular accident victims.
Why Do I Need a Defense Lawyer for Traffic Charges?
If you’ve been issued a traffic ticket, you may be tempted to simply pay the fine and put the incident behind you. Unfortunately, what many people don't realize is that the state recognizes paying a ticket as an admission of guilt. Depending on the type of violation, you could still suffer driver’s license suspension and increased insurance costs even after paying the fine. A lawyer can help you fight against the charge to ensure your right to drive is protected.
In a criminal traffic case, you need an attorney for two main reasons. One, your attorney can immediately intervene to appeal your administrative driver’s license suspension. If the suspension is upheld, your attorney can help you apply for a restricted license that will allow you to drive in vital situations such as work, school, or medical appointments.
Finally, your attorney will have to address the criminal charges against you. There are multiple defense strategies that may be used depending on the crime, the circumstances, and the manner in which you were detained. For example, you may have been unaware that your license was expired, so you had no idea you were committing a crime. Or, the police officer who pulled you over did not have probable cause to search your vehicle, meaning any evidence gathered was obtained through an illegal search.
Contact an Experienced Fort Lauderdale Traffic Defense Lawyer
If you or someone you love has been ticketed or charged with a traffic crime, we can begin building a solid defense in your first phone call. Call us at 954-523-3811 or fill out our contact form to get answers at no cost to you.