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Levels of Traffic Offenses in Birmingham

The Michigan Motor Vehicle Code governs conduct on all roads in the state of Michigan and describes multiple levels of traffic offenses in Birmingham, ranging from civil infractions to felonies. As a driver, it is important to be aware of all the different types of traffic offenses that you may encounter, as well as the penalties associated with each. A knowledgeable traffic lawyer could help explain the severity of specific infractions and act as a legal advocate to protect your rights in court.

The Three Levels of Violations

In order of severity, the three types of vehicle transgressions codified under Michigan state law are civil infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Civil infractions are not criminal offenses, so they carry no jail time or probation. Instead, civil infractions have a fine standardized in each court. Most civil infractions carry points as well.

More severe than civil infractions are misdemeanors, which may involve potential jail time of up to one year, plus fines and fees. A traffic misdemeanor is any misdemeanor addressed under the Motor Vehicle Code, but unlike most misdemeanors that carry 90 days to a year in jail, there is no minimum jail requirement for traffic ones, and most courts do not apply any jail time for them.

The final type of traffic violation is a felony, which carries prison time in excess of one year and further fines and fees, probation, and other penalties. Additional consequences include the loss of the right to bear arms and vote as well as increased difficulty obtaining loans, credit, or housing, and it may exclude individuals from certain forms of employment.  Additionally, like civil infractions, both misdemeanor and felony traffic offenses also carry points.

Birmingham traffic infraction cases are heard in Bloomfield Hills at the 48th district court. This court has three judges, all of whom have been on the bench for a very long time. Most civil infractions are handled by the magistrates, while higher-level infractions are handled by judges. Felony level offenses in Birmingham begin in district court, but automatically proceed to circuit court.

Aggravating Factors That May Enhance Penalties

Some traffic infractions come with aggravating circumstances in the state of Michigan based on the location of the offense, if there were prior violations, the severity of the breach, and other circumstances. For speeding offenses, there are different speed limit zones with lower limits or enhanced penalties for infractions, such as residential areas, school zones, construction zones, or heavily traveled routes. Besides simple posted speed limits, drivers may be required to travel at a slower pace for certain road conditions, particularly during heavy rain or winter.

If a traffic infraction could have caused serious injury or death, that may elevate a civil infraction to a misdemeanor or even a felony. Driving at high rates of speed might be seen as reckless or wanton, and the use of alcohol or an illegal substance—or the presence of children or construction workers—could compound an infraction to a different level of traffic offense in Birmingham.

 Fighting Traffic Offenses with an Attorney’s Assistance

Before appealing a traffic misdemeanor conviction, it may be essential to fight the original charge while going through due process. If you are facing a traffic charge, even one as relatively minor as a civil infraction, a skilled traffic lawyer may be able to help keep points off your license, represent you in court, and give legal advice. Call today to start working on your case.