In most states – about half of U.S States– a speeding ticket is perceived an infraction, not criminal. It is, therefore, regarded as a misdemeanor.
Nothing feels scarier than seeing the police through your rear view mirror with red lights flashing. Just then, you discover you’ve gone well-over the supposed speed limit.
Interestingly, in most states, speeding is not considered criminal – but an infraction. However, a speeding ticket can increase your driving record points.
Decriminalizing Traffic Tickets
In so many states, over speeding is not treated as a crime. ‘Civil infractions’ and similar less implicating terms are used to qualify traffic violations in some places – like California.
This means your criminal records will not capture a case of speeding ticket. However, a speeding card will reflect on your driving record. For states running a points system, a speeding ticket will accrue points.
While it sounds interesting to know a speeding ticket is not criminal, it still doesn’t make it favorable to drivers. When charged with an infraction, a citizen is stripped off a range of protections.
That said, the court may convict you if more than half of the evidence presented posit you committed the crime.
It is, however, noteworthy that a speeding ticket can be considered misdemeanor in some specific conditions. For instance, in the event your car injures or threatens to harm another person or property.
Is a Speeding Ticket a Misdemeanor?
Is a speeding ticket a misdemeanor in Texas? Some states consider speeding ticket as a crime – as well as a misdemeanor. In Texas, for example, most speeding tickets are issued for Class C misdemeanor.
Offenders are liable to pay as much as $500, without jail time. You will either plead innocent or guilty to the charges. Offenders who plead guilty may face trial.
A traffic ticket trial in Texas is similar to other states’. You may also opt for a jury trial, as you please.
Texas, as a state, takes up the burden to provide evidence to prove your involvement, beyond a reasonable doubt.
After presenting the cases, the jury determines whether you’re guilty or not, and appropriate punishment. Punishments may be anything from a deferred sentence to a full fine, including all court costs.
When the court pronounces a deferred sentence, you are placed on probation, pending when all the terms are met. Having satisfied all conditions of probation, the judge then discharges and dismisses the case. Here, you will not be pronounced guilty.
How to Dismiss Your Reckless Driving
Reckless driving – referred in some states as careless driving – involves the abuse of a ticket issued for a range of reasons. The gravity of this driving offense varies from state to state. While reckless driving and careless driving are interchangeable in some states, they mean two separate crimes in others.
Reckless driving captures a range of driving irregularities – over speeding, street racing, fleeing from a police officer in the form of a car chase. A reckless driving ticket, however, leaves a severe dent on your license.
That said, knowing how to contest a reckless driving ticket can be a lifesaver. However, the procedure varies across states.
Fix a Date for Hearing
Typically, you may call or write to the court to fix a hearing date. Once a date is set, it’s up to you to decide whether or not to bring in a lawyer. The service of a seasoned attorney is highly recommended to help you go through the court procedures for the best outcomes.
Obtain a Police Record
Here, you’d need to pay a fee to the police department or court that issued the traffic ticket. However, ensure you obtain a copy of the report, to be double sure exactly what reflects on the public record. Pay close attention to it and check for any discrepancies in the details.
If you had any witness at the scene, convince them to share their side of the story, to help you compare their words with those on the police statement.
Here, again, an attorney will help you a whole lot. Besides helping you review the police report, they can professionally interrogate the witnesses to vindicate you in the trial.
Go to Court
Often, the court offers a “Plea,” and an opportunity to plead guilty to a less implicating charge. A seasoned lawyer can guide you to decide between taking the plea or contest the ticket in court.
Plea often comes with probation or some specific conditions. So, you want to take time to consider the options for a well-informed decision.
However, opting for a plea does not automatically dismiss your driving ticket; it only says you have settled for a lesser charge.
If you decline a plea bargain, you’d have to appear in court to either plead innocent or guilty to careless driving.
If you decide to plead innocent, the date for a hearing will be fixed for your charges. During the hearing, you will spot-light details as in the police report. Here, a seasoned lawyer will help interrogate witnesses and argue your case. The jury or judge – it varies across states – will, then, make a final pronouncement.
If found innocent, the court dismisses your careless driving ticket. Otherwise – If pronounced guilty – a reckless driving ticket will sit on your records.
Will A Speeding Ticket Reflect on A Background Check?
Did you recently violate the speed limits? Wondering if that could negatively influence your job prospects?
Will a regular background check expose your speed driving ticket? Would you have to disclose your ticket during a job application interview?
A traffic ticket may not be cited criminal. Such minor offenses are referred to as civil citations – meaning, they are neither categorized as a misdemeanor nor felony. Hence, they do not appear in your criminal records. Therefore, if your background check emphasizes your criminal history, a speeding ticket will not appear.
That said, some employers go beyond criminal background check, as part of their pre-employment procedure/requirements. An employer may look deeper into your background history for the most insignificant errors. Some may have a particular interest in your motor vehicle records.
Of course, a look at your driving records will expose such traffic violations. If your prospect job involves driving, expect that the hirer will find out your ticket when examining your driving records. Besides, other related traffic violations – usually within the past seven years – will be revealed.
However, the nature of the ticket determines whether or not it will reflect on your criminal background check.
How Much Will a Speeding Ticket Cost?
A couple of factors determine how much a speeding ticket will cost you.
- Was the ticket issued for speeding alone or for some other traffic infractions?
- Driving speed
- The level of recklessness involved in the violation
All these considerations influence the cost of your ticket. Besides paying for the ticket, court appearance, charges and fines are applicable – based on the specific violation.
While you may contact a reliable agency to help calculate the actual cost, you may find out the cost of a speeding ticket through these steps:
Contact the address on the card. Date and time for a court hearing are stated on the ticket. You can obtain your ticket cost from the clerk if you may not show up in court.
Call your local Department of Motor Vehicles and supply your violation code or ticket number. The agency will confirm how much you are required to remit to the state.
Discuss with the local police department where you got the ticket. They should offer you a comprehensive list showing the fine of each offense.
In the event the ticket was issued outside the state or county, ensure you send the fine by mail early enough or make payment online, if applicable. Where penalties are unpaid before stated deadlines, an additional fine and other fees may be included for late payments.
Contact the office of the local court clerk where your ticket was issued. Here, you can easily access the address and ticket cost.
Will a Speeding Ticket Increase My Insurance Rates?
While a speeding ticket could inflate your vehicle insurance rate, it may not affect your premium.
However, rates vary based on driving records, speed, state of residence, and, most importantly, your car insurance company.
Most insurance companies no longer increase premiums following a speeding ticket. Findings reveal that about 78% of drivers who got a ticket continued with their initial premiums, even after.
However, most insurers keep an eye on your records from the Department of Motor Vehicles to evaluate your risk level while on the road. They assess tickets and points issued in the past one to three years, depending on your states. The higher the risk level, the higher your insurance company charges.
Factors that might increase your insurance premium
Severity of ticket
While the policies vary from an insurance company to another, the severity of the violation is a common factor that determines a rise in your car insurance premium.
Suspended driver license or reckless driving and related violations are near-guaranteed to spike up your car insurance rates.
Contrarily, improper packing, and ignoring a stop sign might be overlooked if your driving history looks stellar.
Speeding tickets takes similar protocols. The higher your speed, the higher the chances of an increased rate. So, a low-profiled speeding infraction may not tamper with your insurance premiums. However, where such minor infractions rack up, you may expect an insurance increase.
Again, state laws are a significant determinant. In some states, for instance, insurance companies are barred from accessing specific driving infractions on your record – such as violations revealed by traffic cameras.
For how long will I have to pay such high rates following a speeding ticket?
Where no further ticket is incurred, insurance companies may reverse to your initial premium rate about three years following an infraction. However, for more severe cases like DUI, you may remain on an inflated rate for up to five, or even ten years.
So, if you wish to get a new car, expect your tickets in the last two or three years to play a vital role in your rates.
Average Premium Increase Following a Speeding Ticket
The insurance company and your state are critical determinants of your premium. Speeding as much as 15 mph above the limit may incur around a 22-percent increase. Those who go between 16 to 30 mph beyond limit may be in for about 29% increment. Again, these rates vary across state laws.
Your insurance company is the next significant factor that may skyrocket your premium.
Averagely, Geico may charge an extra $156 annual premium, while Allstate may increase your premium to as high as a whopping $1,044, yearly.
Ideally, it is reasonable to do your findings before you settle with an insurance company. This could save you a fortune, eventually.
Differences Between a Speeding Ticket and Reckless Driving
While they are used interchangeably, reckless driving and speeding tickets are two different things.
The chief difference between these conditions is that speeding is a lesser offense than reckless driving. While speeding tickets are considered a minor offense, which may not attract a jail time, reckless driving is classified under class 1 misdemeanor – punishable by up to 12-month jail time.
Again, while reckless driving may take up to 6 points, speeding tickets takes only about 3 points on your records.
Reckless driving could cause criminal offense conviction, while traffic infraction – like speeding – will not.
Robert Gomez was born and raised in the Bronx, New York. He currently lives in Northern California with “the wifey,” “the kids,” “the dog,” and “that cat,” 🙁 He is also a former journalist who has interviewed murderers on death row. Felonyfriendlyjobs.org was born to help ex-felons get a second chance in life.