Last updated on January 31, 2024

When Does A Traffic Violation Become A Misdemeanor?

Reflection of a Police Car in Side View Mirror

There are lots of examples of things that could be misdemeanors, but typically it is going to be something that is considered a bit more serious in nature. The court has the authority and or the discretion to be able to potentially put you in jail for what you did. One of the common traffic violations in the driving and traffic realm is driving while a license is suspended. That is a ticket that will be issued, because somebody failed to pay a speeding ticket and their license was suspended and then pulled over. Sometimes the drivers do not even know that their license was suspended, but that is not a defense in most situations. If you find yourself in a similar situation, speak with a reputable Michigan motor vehicle offenses lawyer today.

At Michigan Defense Law, our lawyers can provide the guidance and representation you need to navigate through these complexities and safeguard your rights. Contact us today at (248) 451-2200 for assistance in addressing your misdemeanor case.

With a driving while license suspension, if you are convicted you will receive an additional thirty day suspension on your license, and two points off your license. You might face probation, and be subjected to drug or alcohol testing if the court feels that is appropriate. You could go to jail for up to ninety-three days for a first offense and up to one year in jail for a second subsequent offense. That is the most common ticket people do not think is serious enough. But in certain situations it is treated very seriously in many of the courts. In particular in Oakland County, they take driving while a license is suspended very seriously, especially if the person has any prior history of the same offense.

They really do not approve of multiple DWLS tickets. They feel like it represents people who do not care about following the law. In Oakland County, Macomb County and parts of Wayne County, they take it very seriously. Sometimes clients have been in trouble in local cities where driving while a license is suspended is not taken as seriously, and then suddenly shocked to find out that they are in front of a judge who is considering placing them in jail. Reckless driving is another traffic misdemeanor, and you can go to jail for that offense. If convicted, it is six points on your license and a ninety-day hard suspension of your driver’s license. This means you cannot drive at all for ninety days.

Surprisingly most people think of reckless driving as being totally out of control, but the statute basically says that a person is guilty of reckless driving if they drove in a reckless manner. It is really vague, and not as dramatic as many people think.

There have been many examples of people getting ticketed for reckless driving simply because they were spinning their tires on a road or doing donuts in a snow-covered parking lot when there were no other cars around. Some things that people do not look at as being that dangerous or risky have resulted in charges of reckless driving. Some other misdemeanors with traffic offenses can involve operating while intoxicated by alcohol, operating while impaired, or operating while intoxicated by drugs.

Child endangerment is another charge that often comes into play. This is where kids are in the car when someone is doing something that is dangerous or improper. Open intoxicants in a vehicle are one of them. If you have a half bottle of wine or an open bottle of beer in the car, and even if you are not drinking the alcohol, the police can charge you with open intoxicants. This results in a misdemeanor and does often result in people being placed on probation, and having a misdemeanor criminal conviction on their record.

Traffic Violation Consequences
Driving with a Suspended License Additional 30-day license suspension, two points on your license, potential probation, and up to 93 days (first offense) or up to 1 year (subsequent offenses) in jail.
Reckless Driving Six points on your license, 90-day hard license suspension, and possible jail time.
Operating While Intoxicated (Alcohol) Potential misdemeanor, fines, probation, license suspension, and mandatory alcohol education programs.
Operating While Impaired Potential misdemeanor, fines, probation, license suspension, and mandatory education programs.
Operating While Intoxicated (Drugs) Potential misdemeanor, fines, probation, license suspension, and mandatory education programs.
Child Endangerment Potential misdemeanor, fines, probation, and a criminal record if children are present during dangerous driving.
Open Intoxicants in a Vehicle Potential misdemeanor, fines, probation, and a criminal record for having open alcohol containers in a vehicle.

Are Traffic Violations Misdemeanors?

A traffic offense, also known as a traffic violation, takes place when a driver breaches the motor vehicle laws or regulations established by a state. Sometimes, a traffic offense or violation is categorized as an infraction, which is not considered a criminal offense (misdemeanor or felony). However, more severe traffic offenses or violations may result in misdemeanor charges.

In Michigan, traffic violations are categorized as either civil infractions or misdemeanors. Driving a vehicle with a suspended license is classified as a misdemeanor, leading to substantial consequences. Other traffic misdemeanors include activities such as driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. In certain instances, reckless driving can also be treated as a misdemeanor rather than a standard traffic infraction.

Penalties for these offenses vary depending on the specific charge but may encompass fines, court costs, license suspension, and, in the case of misdemeanor traffic offenses, the possibility of imprisonment. Failure to address a traffic ticket can lead to the revocation of your driver’s license.

Navigating the intricacies of traffic violations and determining whether they amount to misdemeanors can be a complex task. At Michigan Defense Law, our skilled Michigan motor vehicle offenses lawyers can provide invaluable assistance. With a deep understanding of state traffic laws, our attorneys can assess your case, strategize a defense, and work towards minimizing potential consequences. Contact us today to protect your rights and navigate the legal intricacies surrounding motor vehicle offenses in Michigan.

What Would Aggravate A Misdemeanor Traffic Violation To Felony Status?

Occasionally if a person does not stop immediately upon being signaled to pull over by a police officer, they can be guilty of fleeing and eluding which can be a felony and can result in a long-term suspension of their driver’s license. Another charge out there is called felony joyriding, or unlawful driving away of an automobile, and this can result in a felony.

Another common misdemeanor is failure to stop and identify after a property damage accident. In other words, say your car slides off the road and causes some damage to a fence, and rather than sticking around and waiting for the police to make a police report you drive home and intend to just deal with it the next day. Many of those situations result in the police showing up at your house and issuing you a misdemeanor ticket for failure to stop and identify after a property damage accident. The courts take those very seriously, because in general the assumption at the courthouse is that you probably were drunk and got away with it. Or you had drugs in your car, had a warrant for your arrest, or you had a suspended driver’s license.

They always assume that if you leave the scene of a property damage accident, it is because you are trying to cover up something worse. That is another important misdemeanor that can add six points to your driver’s license as well.

For more information on Enhancement Of Traffic Violations, a free initial consultation is your next best step. Contact us today and get the information and legal answers you are seeking by speaking with one of our Michigan criminal defense lawyers at (248) 451-2200.

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