client and traffic ticket attorney reviewing paperwork

Infraction vs. Misdemeanor: What’s the Difference?

When you’re dealing with a traffic violation — from parking tickets and speeding tickets to DUIs and reckless driving — you’re vulnerable to being fined or sentenced to jail time. 

However, the courts apply different penalties for different traffic violations, and the type and severity level of yours can make a world of difference when it comes to the consequences. Regardless of your citation type, the first step is to contact a lawyer who is experienced in traffic ticket defense and general traffic law. 

When it comes to traffic violations, many people wonder what the difference is between an infraction and a misdemeanor.

Key Differences Between Infractions and Misdemeanors

There are several important elements that separate an infraction from a misdemeanor offense. Which type of offense yours is qualified as can have a great impact on your future and financial well-being. 

What is an infraction? 

Both misdemeanors and infractions are violations, but an infraction counts as a non-criminal violation. Infractions constitute the majority of traffic tickets and are also known as “violations” or “civil infractions.”

Infractions are either minor violations of traffic laws or vehicular mechanical problems that don’t pose a direct danger to other citizens. Here are a few examples of infraction traffic offenses: 

  • Speeding
  • Failure to stop
  • Roll-through stop
  • Failure to yield
  • Failure to signal
  • Damaged headlights
  • Not wearing a seat belt
  • Driving with minors who aren’t wearing seat belts

The court usually considers traffic infractions to be strict liability offenses. This means that even if the driver was ignorant of the law and did not have the intent to break the law, the court considers them to be as liable for the offense as they would have been had they had the genuine intent to break the law. 

Potential Consequences of Infraction Offenses 

Should you commit and be convicted of a traffic infraction, your penalties will likely be minor compared to those of a misdemeanor offense. Most Central New York traffic infractions include fines of up to several hundred dollars, and some traffic tickets may involve up to 30 days of jail time. 

A traffic ticket attorney may be able to help you avoid conviction.

What is a misdemeanor? 

A misdemeanor traffic offense is significantly more serious than a traffic infraction, no matter what state you’re in. However, misdemeanors are much less serious than felony traffic offenses, which are also possible. Here are a few examples of misdemeanor traffic offenses:

  • Excessive speeding of 11 miles or more over the limit
  • Driving without a license
  • Driving with a suspended license
  • Driving with a revoked license
  • Hit and runs
  • DUIs

If you’ve received a ticket for a misdemeanor traffic offense, contact a lawyer as soon as possible to explore your legal options.

Potential Consequences of Misdemeanor Offenses

The penalties for your misdemeanor are determined by your specific circumstances. Most misdemeanor traffic violations result in significantly higher fines than traffic violations, depending on the circumstances, along with multiple years of jail time.

Turn to New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers Today

Regardless of what kind of traffic ticket violation you are facing — whether it be an infraction, a misdemeanor, or even a vehicular homicide — there’s no reason for you to lose hope yet. There are many legal nuances that an experienced attorney can help you understand, allowing you to fight your case in the most effective way.  

At New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers, our dedicated team works hard to protect the rights of our clients and secure the best possible outcomes for their cases. Let a seasoned traffic ticket attorney from our firm take the burden of dealing with your traffic violation off your shoulders. 

If you’ve been accused of a traffic violation, contact New York Traffic Ticket Lawyers to schedule a consultation today. 

David Hammond, Esq. is a traffic offense lawyer and prosecutor that has over a decade of experience fighting for the rights of service members and their families. He served nine years and went on two combat tours as an active duty US Army officer. He then joined the Reserves and moved to Syracuse to be near his family. Not only does he defend the rights of Central New Yorkers, but he also has a veteran-focused practice. David represents servicemen and women before the military appellate courts and takes cases to fix service members’ military records. If you have any questions about this article, you can contact David by clicking here.