Matthew S. Abdo & Cy M. Abdo
The Difference Between Civil Infractions and Criminal Traffic Violations
Traffic offenses are classified as non-criminal or criminal. A non-criminal traffic violation is called a “civil infraction”. In this article, ABDO LAW will explain the differences between various traffic offenses and why you should fight every traffic ticket to avoid points and higher insurance premiums. Avoiding a criminal record may be an additional goal if you are charged with a criminal traffic offense such as leaving the scene of an accident, driving while license suspended or reckless driving. The Michigan Traffic Offense Code contains a complete list of all Michigan traffic offenses along with penalties, points and license sanctions. Here are the goals that we have when we fight a traffic ticket:
- Avoid points
- Avoid any offense on driving record
- Avoid higher insurance premiums
- Avoid a criminal traffic conviction
Civil Infractions: A civil infraction can result in the following sanctions: points on your driving record with secretary of state and monetary sanction (fine) to the court system. Not all civil infractions result in points or go on your driving record. If you are wondering, there are a few civil infractions which we can get in a plea deal to resolve a traffic ticket and keep a client’s record clean. The following offenses do not appear on your record and do not carry any points: double parking, impeding traffic and sudden acceleration. Yes, the court remains able to assess a fine for these matters. However, insurance rates will not be impacted since these offenses do not show up on your record. That makes it a huge deal to get a traffic offense reduced to a civil infraction which DOES NOT appear on your driving record. Here are a few examples of common civil infractions that can hurt you because they carry points and appear on your driving:
- Speed 1 to 10 mph over limit, 2 points
- Speed 11 to 15 mph over limit, 3 points
- Speed Over 15 mph over limit, 4 points
- FTSACD (rear end accident), 2 points
- Disobey stop sign, 3 points
- Disobey traffic signal, 3 points
- Careless driving, 3 points
Criminal Traffic Violations: When an offense is labeled a crime or criminal traffic violation, it can carry the following sanctions: points, fine, court costs, possible jail and probation. If the matter is a misdemeanor traffic violation, it can carry up to 2 years probation. A felony involving a motor vehicle (such as fleeing or OWI 3rd), can carry up to 5 years probation. Here is a list of the most common criminal traffic offenses that carry 6 points, possible jail and probation:
Criminal Traffic Offenses
- Reckless Driving
- Fail to stop after accident
- False info to police after accident
- Fleeing and eluding
- Drunk driving (OWI)
- Driving while license suspended (DWLS)
Insurance companies get rich when you just pay a traffic ticket!
Don’t surrender to the police, courts and insurance companies when you get a traffic ticket! There is never any benefit to just paying a ticket without trying to fight it. Absolutely Never! Based upon our experience, all traffic tickets in every district court in Macomb, Oakland and Wayne counties can be fought, won and save you from getting jammed up with higher insurance premiums. When we refer to these counties, we are referring to the district courts located in these counties such as the 37th District Court (Warren, Centerling), 38th District Court (Eastpointe), 39th District Court Roseville, Fraser), 40th District Court (St. Clair Shores), 41A District Court (Sterling Heights), 41A District Court (Shelby Township, Macomb Township, Utica), 41B District Court (Clinton Township, Harrison Township, Mt. Clemens), 42-1 District Court (Romeo, Washington Township), 42-2 District Court (New Baltimore, Chesterfield Township), 43rd District Court (Ferndale, Madison Heights, Hazel Park), 44th District Court (Royal Oak) and the 53rd District Courts (locations in Troy, Rochester).
When you get a ticket, points are added to your Michigan Driving Record which will result in higher insurance premiums. In addition, if you accumulate 12 or more points, your license will be suspended. Anyone getting a ticket should get a traffic defense lawyer to review all possible options. The avoidance of points has a huge economic benefit as far as motor vehicle insurance costs are concerned.
Clean Slate Law Allows for Expungement of Certain Criminal Traffic Violations
Prior to 2021, a criminal traffic violation was could NOT be expunged in Michigan. Now, under Michigan’s new expungement rules, traffic misdemeanors may be expunged. There are exceptions to this rule and the following offenses involving a motor vehicle may not be expunged:
- Operating a motor vehicle while intoxicated or impaired.
- Any traffic violation involving an injury or death.
This is a step in the right direction but we still feel that drinking and driving offenses should be subject to expungement and we will continue to fight for this reasonable change. Whenever in doubt, contact an expungement lawyer to find out if your case is eligible for expungement.
Impeding traffic, double parking?? What do they mean?
Most of the time, an attorney can negotiate for reduction of the ticket which usually means less points. When this occurs, the ticket is amended to an offense such as “impeding traffic” or “double parking” which is a zero point violation and does not appear on the driving record. We understand that “impeding traffic” or “double parking” may not have anything to do with the original ticket, but who cares! The key is that it does not carry any points and does not go on the driving record of the offender.
Links to Macomb and Surrounding Area Courts
Here is a sample of courts that surround our office where we frequently practice and have had success in getting thousands of tickets dismissed!
- Clinton Township, Harrison Township, Mt. Clemens and the 41-B District Court
- Eastpointe and the 38th District Court
- Chesterfield, New Baltimore and the 42-2 District Court (Division 2)
- Romeo, The North End, and the 42-1 District Court (Division 1)
- Roseville, Fraser and the 39-A District Court
- St. Clair Shores and the 40th District Court
- Shelby Township, Macomb, Utica and the 41-A District Court
- Sterling Heights and the 41-A District Court
- Grosse Pointe Communities and Their Municipal Courts
- Rochester, Rochester Hills, and the 52-3 District Court
- Royal Oak and the 44th District Court
- Warren, Centerline and the 37th District Court
- Madison Heights and the 43rd District Court