Close up of a traffic ticket

6 Kinds of Traffic Tickets

There are six different types of traffic tickets.

Most tickets are simple, handled by paying a fine or contesting it in court. Occasionally, they can be more complicated and result in arrest and the need to use the bail bonds process.

Let’s take a look at the different types of tickets.


Generally speaking, a speeding ticket is pretty straightforward. If the speed limit is 55mph, and a driving is driving 56mph, the driver is speeding. Occasionally, however, speeding tickets can be more nuanced.

Some states use a presumed speed-limit system, which means that drivers can drive faster than the posted limit, if they are driving safely. This means a driver can be ticketed for speeding when they are driving 50mph in a 45mph zone, but if they can prove to the judge that conditions allowed for that, they may get the ticket dismissed.

There’s also a basic speed-limit law, and under this law, a driver can be ticketed for speeding even if driving under the posted speed limit. An example of this might be driving 35mph in a 40mph area when the road is icy and it’s raining.

Distracted driving

Distracted driving is a somewhat vague term that refers to doing anything behind the wheel that distracts the driver from their primary task of driving the vehicle. The most common example of this today is talking or texting on a cell phone. Other examples include applying makeup, reading, writing, tending a pet, shaving, or even eating.

Some states allow a driver to be pulled over and ticketed for distracted driving as an infraction of its own, which is primary enforcement. Other states only allow ticketing for distracted driving if the driver is pulled over for another infraction first, called secondary enforcement. In either case, drivers can be ticketed with or without an accident.

Driving without a license
Every state requires drivers to have a valid driver’s license. There are two ways drivers can be ticketed for driving without a license:

1.Driving with no license – If a driver has never had a license, has had their license temporarily suspended, or has had their license permanently revoked.
2.Driving while failing to carry the license – If a driver has a license, but has forgotten or lost it and therefore, cannot prove in that moment that they have a license.

The first way has the potential to lead to serious trouble for the driver. The second way tends to be resolved easily, as most drivers can simply go to court with the ticket, show their license and have the ticket dismissed or reduced.

Leaving the scene of an accident
Also known as ‘hit and run’, leaving the scene of an accident is illegal in all states. Drivers involved in an accident are required to stay at the scene, exchange information, help injured parties, contact police, and look for witnesses. If the accident involves an unattended vehicle or property such as a mailbox, the driver is expected to make reasonable efforts to locate and inform the owner, including leaving a note with name and phone number, if necessary.

Leaving the scene is one of the more serious tickets a driver can get, and has the potential to be a felony.

Reckless driving
Reckless driving is a wanton disregard for the rules of the road. Drivers may or may not have been in an accident when receiving this ticket. This ticket is another serious ticket, often charged as a misdemeanor, rather than an infraction such as speeding. This ticket can have penalties ranging from heavy fines to jail time. Each state has its own definition of what constitutes reckless driving.

Running a red light or stop sign
Every driver knows exactly what a red light or stop sign means: come to a full and complete stop. These tickets may be issued by an officer, or be received in the mail at a later date after a traffic camera has captured the offense.

While most tickets are easily dealt with, if a driver ends up with one of the more serious tickets, they should seek out legal help.

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