Getting behind the wheel of a car actually entails some pretty serious responsibility. Vehicles are wonderful transportation innovations. However, they can also be deadly pieces of machinery when operated in an irresponsible manner. Traffic violations can range from the most minor citations that results from careless mistakes to major convictions as the result of criminal negligence. Even small violations can add up over time to cause points to be added to your license. Once a driver acquires 12 points against them, they can potentially lose their license for up to three months. Understanding the difference between minor convictions and major ones can assist people in becoming more responsible and safer drivers out on the open road.
Sweating the Small Stuff
Minor driving convictions are the most common. These infractions include the kinds of things that we have all done at one point or another, either purposefully or otherwise. Running stop signs, speeding, going the wrong direction on a one-way street, or driving on an invalid license all qualify as minor offenses. These types of violations typically call for the defendant to pay a fine. Although, if a driver incurs enough of these penalties over a short period of time, then their license can be revoked, or they may be ordered by a judge to attend some form of driver education course in order to earn back points on their license. Some of the more uncommon infractions that fall under minor convictions can include improperly secured loads on the roadway, unnecessarily slow driving, improper towing, and causing unnecessary noise with a vehicle.
Small Offenses With Big Consequences
Major convictions are the next rung on the ladder. The list of these possible infractions is much shorter. Being convicted of these offenses typically results in having multiple points applied against your license, resulting in car insurance rates that will potentially be higher than prior to the conviction. Many people assume that failing to stop for a school bus is only a minor offense. However, this action and any other moving violations that are related to school zones are major offenses. The severity in the penalty is meant to protect children from the dangers of reckless drivers. Major driving convictions also include failing to report and accident, driving without insurance, or failing to report damage to highway and municipal property as the result of an accident.
When the Book Comes Down Hard
Criminal convictions are those driving offenses that can directly result in jail time. Major and minor offenses often do not require offenders to report before a judge. The offender can simply mail in the payment for their fine. Criminal cases require court appearances for sentencing. Drunk driving is by far the most common of the criminal offenses. In most states, drunk driving is the charge when a driver is pulled over with a blood-alcohol level of .08 or greater. Drunk driving, or driving under the influence, can also be the official charge when drivers are convicted of operating a vehicle while taking medications or other illegal drugs. Officers most often pull over drivers under the suspicion of careless or reckless driving, only to find that the driver is under the influence of a particular substance. Reckless driving is another charge that can be considered a criminal conviction, depending on the severity of the situation.
Refusing breathalyzers, disobeying police officers, racing, and vehicular manslaughter are also considered to be criminal convictions that carry stiff penalties. Drivers can also be convicted of multiple offenses at one time, depending on the actions of the judge presiding over the case. For example, a person involved in an accident where alcohol and state property is involved can be convicted of a DUI, reckless driving, and a possible failure to report damage to state property all in the same hearing.