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The difference between traffic violations and misdemeanors

When people get pulled over by a member of law enforcement in Illinois, they may expect nothing worse than a ticket. However, sometimes people find themselves charged with a misdemeanor instead of receiving a ticket. It is important to understand the difference between traffic violations and misdemeanors.

When law enforcement pulls most people over, it is usually because someone committed a traffic violation. According to FindLaw, failing to yield and speeding are examples of traffic violations. Parking in a handicap spot may also be a violation if someone does not have a handicap sticker. Additionally, traffic violations include parking in front of fire hydrants. These offenses are usually less serious because they do not always have the potential to harm other people.

Traffic misdemeanors are generally more serious violations. FindLaw says law enforcement might charge drivers with a misdemeanor if they have do not have insurance or if they do not have a driver's license. People might also commit a traffic misdemeanor if they drive recklessly or if they are intoxicated. If people get into a collision but drive away, this may also be a misdemeanor. These offenses may be misdemeanors because they have the potential to harm other people and property.

Sometimes the situation determines whether an offense is a misdemeanor. Members of law enforcement may charge someone with a traffic violation for running a red light. However, the offense may become a misdemeanor if the driver causes an accident because he or she ran the light. Because these offenses are more serious, the penalty is also more serious. People typically have to pay a fine, and this is usually more expensive than the fine for traffic violations. In some situations, people may spend less than one year in their county jail.


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