When you are driving and are stopped by a law enforcement official, there are many different types of traffic offenses for which you can be cited or charged. Are all traffic offenses misdemeanor or felony offenses that can result in you having a criminal record? Or are some traffic offenses less serious? It can be difficult to understand the distinctions in a number of traffic and traffic-related offenses, as well as to understand when traffic charges can lead to you having a criminal record. What are your rights when you are stopped? Do you have the same rights regardless of the offense for which you are stopped?
While it is always important to work with an experienced Illinois traffic defense lawyer on your case, we want to provide you with more information about Illinois traffic offenses. The following are five things you should know about traffic offenses in the state. If you have additional questions, an advocate at the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus can help.
The Least Serious Type of Traffic Offenses are Known as Petty Offenses
The least serious type of traffic offenses in Illinois are known as “petty” offenses. Under the Illinois Criminal and Traffic Assessment Act, petty offenses are defined as those “punishable by a fine of up to $1,000 and for which a sentence of imprisonment is not an authorized disposition.” Examples of petty offenses can include speeding, failing to wear a seat belt, and even speeding in a school zone. These offenses do not result in a misdemeanor criminal record.
Many Traffic Offenses are Misdemeanors That can Result in a Criminal Record
More serious types of traffic offenses are classified as misdemeanors and can result in a criminal record upon conviction. The statute defines a misdemeanor traffic offense as “any offense for which a sentence to a term of imprisonment in other than a penitentiary for less than one year may be imposed.” First-time charges for driving under the influence (DUI), as well as reckless driving, are some examples of misdemeanor traffic offenses.
Misdemeanor offenses are divided into three categories: Class A (most serious), Class B, and Class C (least serious).
Some Traffic Offenses can be Charged as Felonies
When a person’s death results from a traffic violation, the driver can face felony charges.
You May be Required to Appear in Court for a Traffic Offense
Even some petty offenses require you to appear in court. According to the Circuit Court of Cook County, speeding in a school zone while children are present, speeding in a construction zone while workers are present, and driving without a valid driver’s license are examples of petty offenses that require a court appearance.
You Have Rights When You are Stopped for a Traffic Offense
Similar to other situations in which a person is stopped by a law enforcement official, motorists have rights when they are stopped. It is important to know that you have the right to remain silent and you have the right to an attorney.
Contact a Chicago Traffic Offense Lawyer
Do you need help fighting traffic charges? An aggressive Chicago traffic defense attorney can get started on your case today. Contact the Law Offices of Jonathan Minkus to learn more about the defense services we provide.