There are a wide variety of laws and regulations that make up the rules of the road, and drivers should strive to follow them all. Failing to comply with some traffic laws, however, pose more serious consequences than others.
Which violations carry criminal charges?
Some traffic violations are so serious that they are automatically considered a crime while others might be elevated to a criminal case depending on the consequences of the action. Additionally, some crimes are considered less serious and are therefore deemed misdemeanors while others are felonies. It is important to understand which traffic violations are crimes as well as the potential penalties.
Examples of misdemeanor traffic crimes include:
- Driving on a suspended license
- Driving under the influence (DUI)
- Driving while impaired (DWI)
- Reckless driving
- Leaving the scene of an accident that involves a personal injury
- Driving with an invalid insurance ID card
Examples of felony traffic crimes include:
- Repeat DWI or DUI offenses
- Fleeing the scene of an accident that involves serious personal injury or death
- Reckless driving resulting in the death of another person
What are the penalties for traffic crimes?
Misdemeanor traffic crimes carry the following penalties in New York:
- Jail time up to one year
- Points on your license
- Raised auto insurance costs
- Fines up to $1,000
Most traffic felonies are Class E felonies, meaning that a skilled lawyer can often negotiate the offense down to a misdemeanor. Class E felony traffic crimes carry the following possible penalties:
- Jail time ranging from one year to a life sentence
- Loss of certain privileges like voting or firearm possession
- Revocation of license or points added to your license
- Fines up to $10,000
While most traffic felonies are Class E, some are more serious. For example, fleeing the scene of an accident that results in death is classified as a Class D felony. The severity of the penalties often depends on the crime and the consequences of your action, as well as your past history of offenses.