When Does an Infraction Become a Misdemeanor?

When you are issued a traffic ticket for some type of violation, you are accused of committing some type of infraction. These are non-dangerous moving and mechanical violations. In New York, an infraction does not carry the same weight as a criminal offense. Unfortunately, in some instances, the law you broke or the way in which you operated your vehicle bumps an infraction to the level of a misdemeanor or a felony. Either of these instances will have you facing stiffer penalties.

Misdemeanors

Most traffic offenses that are upgraded are only upgraded to misdemeanors. People commit traffic violations every day and increasing the level of charge would quickly overwhelm the justice system. Common examples of traffic infractions that may be charged as misdemeanors include:

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to stop at the scene of an accident or fleeing the scene
  • Driving without a valid license
  • Driving without insurance
  • Reckless driving

When a driver is charged with a misdemeanor, they may be taken into custody and forced to pay a bond to get out of jail. Consequences of a misdemeanor traffic violation includes jail time of up to one year, fines, court costs and surcharges.

Felonies

In some instances, a traffic violation is charged as a felony. When this is the case, someone has typically been injured or there has been significant property damage. In other instances, it is a second, third or fourth offense of the same type. If a person is convicted of a felony, they face prison time, fines, court costs and surcharges. The consequences of a felony are more severe than those of a misdemeanor.

Any person that has been charged with a misdemeanor or felony after a traffic stop in New York needs to seek the advice of an experienced attorney. Reach out to our office today for a free case evaluation and learn about the options available to you under current law. Don’t be tempted to fight your ticket on your own. An attorney can help you achieve the best possible outcome for your unique situation.