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Driving Violations

South Florida Traffic Ticket Attorney

People in the United States know that when they face a criminal accusation, they are innocent until proven guilty. Most understand that prosecutors must prove their case beyond a reasonable doubt. However, many people seem to forget this fact when they get behind the wheel, especially with traffic tickets. They accept whatever happens as an inevitable consequence of being on the road, or they just think it’s not worth the trouble to fight it.

However, conviction of a traffic violation will hurt you in the pocketbook and it will hurt you in the wallet. It will hurt your privilege to drive in the future. More serious offenses can even lead to you being put behind bars. You have an opportunity to fight these consequences, and your best bet to do so is by hiring a dedicated attorney.

Palm Beach County Traffic Ticket Lawyer

You can turn to the experienced traffic violation lawyers at Meltzer & Bell, P.A., “The Traffic Stop,” to fight your traffic violation or serious offense. We handle any type of criminal matter that a person can be accused of when behind the wheel of a motor vehicle, and we can represent you.

For non-criminal traffic infractions not involving an accident, we offer a money back guarantee — no points, no school, or your money back.  Some restrictions apply and court costs and fees may apply in addition to the attorney fee.  For other offenses, we offer dedicated representation, and we will zealously fight for you. In many cases, you will never have to go to court or even our office.

Call us today at (561) 557-8686. We represent people in Palm Beach County and Broward County, including those pulled over in West Palm Beach, Fort Lauderdale, Delray Beach, Boca Raton, Boynton Beach, Pembroke Pines, Hollywood, and Miramar.

Information Center for Driving Violations

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Non-Criminal Traffic Violations Under Florida Law

The most common traffic violations are not considered criminal offenses under Florida law. They are considered “non-criminal violations.” Some of those violations include:

  • Speeding: By far the most common citation, speeding involves operating a motor vehicle at an unsafe speed. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.183)
  • Driving Too Slowly: Highways, including I-95, have a minimum speed of 40 miles per hour. Driving slower could lead to a citation. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.183)
  • Red Light Violations: In many cities, traffic signals are regulated by red light cameras. This is illegal, and your attorneys can help fight any citation you receive. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.075)
  • Careless Driving: This vague offense may be prosecuted if police did not feel you were driving in a “careful and prudent manner.” (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.1925)
  • Failure to Yield: Drivers are required to yield to certain vehicles, including ambulances, fire trucks, police cars and public transit, to pedestrians and whenever a traffic sign indicates to do so. (Florida Statutes Annotated §§ 316.075, 316.079, 316.0815, 316.126)
  • Improper Passing: There are many rules when one vehicle passes another on a highway involving signaling, lane changes, right of way and when one may pass. (Florida Statutes Annotated §§ 316.083 – 316.0875)
  • Failure to Stop for a School Bus: When a school bus stops to let children in or off, all other vehicles on the road must stop. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.172)
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident: When a person is involved in an accident, he or she has the duty to stop and give information, including his or her name and vehicle registration number. The failure to do so is a violation. Leaving the scene can also be a criminal offense. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.062)
  • Aggressive Careless Driving: This offense means committing non-criminal violations that are listed in the statute in succession of one another. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.1923)

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Criminal Traffic Offenses

Criminal infractions are more serious and include misdemeanors and felonies. A criminal traffic violation can lead to a person being put behind bars. Some are:

  • Reckless Driving: Reckless driving means to operate a motor vehicle with “willful and wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Charges escalate if there was property damage or injury caused. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.192)
  • Racing on Highway: Participating in unauthorized drag racing or other speed competitions on the road is a criminal offense. It is also a crime to organize such an event. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.191)
  • Driving While License Suspended: It is a criminal offense to drive if the driver’s license or permit has been suspended, canceled, revoked or is otherwise invalid. Offenses become worse with a subsequent offense. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 322.34)
  • Operating Without Valid Commercial License: To drive certain vehicles, a person must have a commercial license in Florida. If that person does not have one, he or she may be charged with a misdemeanor. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 322.03)
  • Fleeing or Eluding a Law Enforcement Officer: If a law enforcement officer has turned on the flashing lights of his or her car and is pursuing that suspect, it is a felony for that suspect to knowingly and willingly fail to stop. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.1935)
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Misdemeanor): If a driver does not stop and give information after an accident that causes damage to any property, including another vehicle, it is a second-degree misdemeanor. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.061)
  • Leaving the Scene of an Accident (Felony):  If a driver leaves the scene of an accident without giving information in an accident involving injury or death to another, it is a third-degree felony. If under the influence of drugs or alcohol, there is a two-year minimum sentence. (Florida Statutes Annotated § 316.027)
  • Vehicular Homicide: If prosecutors can prove that a driver caused the death of a person or viable fetus due to driving in a reckless manner, it is a serious felony. (Florida Statutes Annotated §782.071)

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Procedure After a Citation or Arrest

When you are pulled over and given a citation in Fort Lauderdale, for example, the police officer will ask you to sign the citation. It is very important to realize that this is, in no way, an admission of guilt. It is simply an acknowledgment that you received the citation.

Florida Traffic Court Rules (TCR) provide the “practice and procedure in any traffic case and specifically apply to practice and procedure in county courts and before civil traffic infraction hearing officers.” TCR 6.010. Only the criminal offense of Driving While License Suspended under Florida Statute Section 322.24 can be classified as a civil traffic infraction (DWLS without knowledge), a criminal traffic misdemeanor (DWLSR with knowledge) or as a felony (DWLSR with knowledge after becoming HTO or for a third offense with prior forcible felony).

In Palm Beach County, you have 30 days to decide how to respond to your citation. You may plead guilty or nolo contendere and pay the fine, or you can plead not guilty and fight it.

If you face a criminal allegation, you may be arrested and have a first appearance where you plead guilty or not guilty. You may have the opportunity to pay a bond to be released.  In many traffic criminal matters, an officer simply will hand you the notice to appear (the citation) and give you a court date.  This may seem less serious to you because you were not taken into custody and you were not arrested for a “crime”.  At Meltzer & Bell, P.A., “The Traffic Stop,” we have handled a combined total of more than 10,000.00 traffic criminal cases and know that each case needs to be taken seriously.

In both criminal and noncriminal matters, you can have a dedicated attorney fighting for your rights to avoid the significant consequences of a traffic ticket or criminal conviction.

Under the traffic court rules, an attorney can appear on behalf of a defendant at a hearing or trial without the presence of the defendant and without the defendant filing an affidavit of defense. See TCR 6.340(c); State v. DuPont, 399 So.2d 438 (Fla. 1DCA 1981).

At the end of the hearing on a traffic citation, the court must find the defendant either guilty or not guilty. If the court finds the defendant has not committed the offense alleged in the traffic ticket then the defendant is found not guilty. If the court finds that the defendant has committed the offense alleged in the traffic ticket then the court must decide whether to adjudicate or withhold adjudication of guilt.

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After Hearing Motions in Traffic Court

A conviction is not necessarily the end of the story. Even after paying the ticket or a conviction after a hearing, certain post-conviction motions can be filed.

Traffic Court Rule 6.540(a) permits a motion for new hearing or motion for arrest of judgment if filed within 10 days (or up to 30 days after the trial if allowed by the court). The motion can be written or oral and made at the conclusion of the hearing and heard immediately. See TCR 6.540(b)&(c).

Traffic Court Rule 6.490(b)(1) also gives the defendant a final opportunity to request that the court reduces the penalty imposed if filed within 60 days. If the court finds that an illegal penalty was imposed then the court may at “anytime” correct such an error. See TCR 6.490.(a).

Under Florida Rule of Appellate Procedure 9.030(c)(1)(A), an adverse decision at trial on a traffic ticket can be appealed to the Circuit Court in the same manner as any other county court case.

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Meltzer & Bell, P.A. | A Traffic Lawyer in Fort Lauderdale

For any noncriminal violation, misdemeanor, or felony that a person can be accused of while behind the wheel, the attorneys of Meltzer & Bell, P.A. can fight for you. Don’t just accept the points, driving school, fines, or other consequences of a ticket. And remember — we offer a money back guarantee: no points, no school, or your money back for civil traffic infractions. Call (561) 557-8686 today to set up a consultation.

This article was last updated on Monday, September 19, 2016.

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