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What is a traffic infraction?

It goes without saying that not all crimes allegedly committed in Roanoke are created equal. The penalties associated with you receiving a speeding ticket are not the as those you may have to deal with if you are accused of committing a felony offense. If you are like most, then you likely classify criminal penalties as either misdemeanors or felonies. Given that misdemeanors tend to be viewed as being less serious than felonies, you might then assume that traffic violations are misdemeanors. Yet there is actually a third category of criminal violations (one under which a majority of traffic violations fall): infractions. 

Virginia’s Motor Vehicle Code defines “infractions” as being violations of the law which are neither felonies or misdemeanors. Some of the more common traffic infractions may include: 

  • Speeding
  • Running a red light
  • Following another car too closely 
  • Failing to come to a complete stop at an intersection

State law mandates that infractions not be penalized by fines greater than those what would be assessed should you be charged with a Class 4 misdemeanor. That is not to say that traffic infractions cannot ultimately result in more serious penalties. For example, as has been detailed on this blog in the past, repeated infractions that result in the accumulation of demerit points over a certain period of time can result in the suspension of your driving privileges. 

Along the same lines, more serious criminal penalties can result from you being charged with a traffic infraction. Say that you are called to court to answer for a traffic infraction, yet you repeatedly ignore the summons. Eventually, a judge can issue a bench warrant for your arrest and may even charge you with being in contempt.