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Traffic violations are generally divided into two categories: parking violations and moving violations. Moving violations are the more serious of the two, carry stiffer penalties, and occur while the vehicle is in motion.
Among moving traffic violations, speeding is the most common. If the driver's manner of speeding is also posing a threat to the lives of pedestrians or other traffic, he or she might also be charged with reckless endangerment. Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol are also illegal, as is driving a vehicle that is in unsafe condition — for instance a vehicle with a broken windshield. In some states, using a cell phone while driving is illegal unless it is a hands-free style. Other traffic violations include not using a child's safety seat for small children and failing to fasten your safety belt.
Though traffic violations can differ from state to state, following is a list of some common infractions and misdemeanors:
- Parking illegally, e.g. in a red zone, taxi or bus zone, temporary zone, or in a disabled parking spot without a disabled sticker on your vehicle.
- Running a red light.
- Making an illegal turn by turning against a light or against a posted sign.
- Failing to stop completely at a stop sign before proceeding through.
- Taking the right-of-way when it belonged to another driver.
- Changing lanes without using the turn indicator.
- Using the diamond or carpool lane without sufficient passengers.
- Driving a vehicle without properly functioning turn signals and brake lights.
- Driving at night without headlights.
- Transporting an oversized load in an unsafe manner.
- Hitting another vehicle, be it parked or moving.
If a driver is ticketed with moving traffic violations, these count as strikes against his or her safety record. Too many strikes within a short period of time can substantially raise the driver's insurance premium, cause the insurance carrier to drop the insured, and even result in suspension of a driver's license.
In the United States, the Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) issues booklets that help educate drivers before a license is issued. People must pass a written driving test to earn a learner's permit. The final test requires a driving demonstration with a DMV employee present. Driving school is also an option.
The fines for moving violations can be very hefty and some violations, as in the case of vehicular manslaughter, are felonies. For less serious traffic violations, the offender can sometimes opt for traffic school in order to avoid a strike on his or her record. Traffic school requires several hours of attendance followed by a test. Upon successful completion, the court will remove the violation from record. Fees for traffic school vary and one might be able to petition the court to attend an online traffic school. In most cases the court will still require the offender to be present in court to take the final test. If one opts for traffic school, it must be completed in addition to any fines levied for the violation.