Types of Traffic Offenses in New Haven
In New Haven, there is a broad classification of motor vehicle traffic offenses that contain motor vehicle infractions, motor vehicle misdemeanors, and motor vehicle felonies. A traffic infraction is defined as anything that carries a maximum penalty of a fine.
A traffic misdemeanor is a motor vehicle offense that carries a maximum of one year in jail and a motor vehicle felony is an offense that carries a minimum of five years or more in jail. Those distinctions of possible traffic offenses are based upon the penalty which an experienced New Haven traffic lawyer can explain and help defend against.
What is Considered a Traffic Offense?
In Connecticut, there are several classifications of motor vehicle issues. The first is a motor vehicle infraction. An infraction is defined as anything that – as a maximum penalty carries a fine. It does not include or do not penalties of jail and the maximum penalties simply a fine. An infraction would not be defined as a felony.
A felony is anything that carries the possibility five years or more in jail. The definition of infraction is anything that is punishable by a fine. So, there cannot be an infraction that constitutes a felony. However, there are many instances in which a person may be involved with a motor vehicle incident in which they are charged with infractions and felonies.
There is another level of motor vehicle offenses which are considered criminal offenses and that they carry the possibility of jail time. For example, if an individual is charged with felony evading responsibility which is a criminal offense, which is a felony, they may also be charged with numerous infractions such as speeding or failure to maintain lane.
Infractions and Misdemeanors
The difference between an infraction and a misdemeanor is in receiving a traffic offense versus receiving the maximum penalty. A misdemeanor for a traffic offense carries the possibility of incarceration. A misdemeanor charge for a traffic offense carries a maximum of one year in jail. The key distinction between the two traffic offenses is the maximum penalty and a traffic infraction carries a fine and a traffic misdemeanor carries the possibility of incarceration.
Most Common Infractions
There are a number of common infractions in New Haven, which include:
- Failure to signal
- Failure to maintain lanes
- Passing a school bus
Additionally, speeding tickets can be something that is very serious in pursuit by the prosecutor in the event the person has multiple previous tickets or if the person is driving at a very high rate of speed. In fact, there are cases in which prosecutors initially, although the person is charged with the infraction of speeding will increase the charge to reckless driving.
The most common traffic offense is traveling speeding or traveling unreasonably fast. There are different offenses that carry different fine amounts depending on whether the person is driving on the highway, whether the person is on a city street and the speed that they are going. The most common are the actual charges speeding and then traveling unreasonably fast. Those are the most two common speeding-related infractions.
The point system is a system whereby as an individual cumulates speeding tickets or other infractions. The DMV will make a notation on their license as to a number of points. Once they have reached a certain number of points, their license – a certain number of points within a certain timeframe, that person’s license will be suspended. The point system is really there to track the individual’s motor vehicle history and at some point, if the person accumulates enough points, their driver’s license will be suspended.
In New Haven, traffic enforcement is a major part of the police operation on a daily basis. So it is something that they do enforce strictly, as they do set up checkpoints, they do set up speed traps and they certainly issue tickets on a frequent basis. They very often will enforce these with traffic laws for couple reasons.
They believe it leads to a safer community, so when people are going through red lights, speeding through the city, or simply not following other traffic laws, it creates a situation where it endangers other members of the community. New Haven has certainly seen a number of pedestrian deaths as well as motor vehicle deaths, so traffic laws in New Haven are taken very seriously and many types of offenses are prosecuted heavily.
Appealing a Traffic Infraction
The process for challenging a motor vehicle infraction starts from the moment the person is given the traffic offense ticket. An officer will give the person a traffic ticket and they have the option to either mail it in and pay a fine in which essentially finding themselves guilty of the traffic offense. Alternatively, the person can mail it back not guilty and that is the first step to challenging the traffic offense case. The person who mails the traffic offense back not guilty will then receive a notice of the transfer from the DMV.
What that means is, the DMV is transferring the matter of the traffic offense to court to hear the not guilty plea. The case is transferred to court, they will give the person a notice called a transfer date. From there, the court will assign a court date for the traffic offense not guilty plea. That is the process by which to challenge an initial motor vehicle offense.
If the person ultimately cannot work out a favorable disposition for their traffic offense case, they cannot have a hearing. Dealing with a traffic offense is not like dealing with a criminal case, where the individual gets a judge and jury. Instead, it is simply a hearing in front of a magistrate. If the person facing the traffic offense is found guilty they may then have a hearing.