What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Georgia?
In the state of Georgia, traffic violations and infractions refer to offenses related to driving or road usage. Generally, these offenses vary in severity, but they are broadly classified as either violations or infarctions. The Official Code of Georgia Annotated (O. C. G. A.) sub-classifies traffic violations as felonies and misdemeanors, depending on severity. Individuals found guilty of violations face serious consequences ranging from hefty fines to jail time. On the other hand, traffic infarctions are less serious offenses. A guilty party may pay fines, complete community service, or face sanctions imposed by the court.
What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Georgia?
Felony traffic violations are the most severe types of driving offenses as they tend to be injurious in terms of financial or physical damages. Compared to misdemeanors and infractions, traffic felonies typically carry the most substantial penalties. Depending on the circumstances, a guilty individual will face penalties specified under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. Generally, traffic violations in Georgia become felonies by a habitual violation or when serious injury or homicide results, according to the Traffic Court Reference Manual.
Depending on prior convictions and other aggravating factors, such as fleeing the scene, a felony traffic violation can carry lengthy prison terms and suspension of driver’s license. For instance, the O. C. G. A. classifies a traffic violation without aforethought, which leads to serious bodily injury or loss of life, as a felony. This felony is punishable by imprisonment of one year to 15 years.
Likewise, frequent traffic violations result in the suspension of license for extended periods and more severe penalties with each violation. For instance, the O. C. G. A. classifies a first D. U. I. as a misdemeanor up to the third offense. However, a fourth conviction is a felony that is punishable by significant fines, probationary period, clinical evaluation, and 1 to 5 years in prison.
Generally, the State of Georgia does not use a classification or grading system for offenses. Thus, the assignment of penalty is on a crime-by-crime basis. Nevertheless, the classification of traffic offenses are:
- Major Traffic Violations: These are typically traffic violations with the potential to cause physical harm to a person or property. The penalties are imposed on a crime-by-crime basis. However, the driver faces a 1 to lifetime disqualification of driving privileges.
- Serious Traffic Violations: These are typically traffic violations that do not result in physical harm to a person or property. The penalties are imposed on a crime-by-crime basis. However, the driver faces up to 120 days of revocation of driving privileges.
- Railroad Grade Crossing Violations: These are traffic violations that occur at a railroad crossing. A guilty driver’s license is suspended for up to 1 year, depending on the circumstances.
- Out-of-Service Order Violations: This is a violation based on the poor state of a vehicle, such as bad brakes or broken lights. The maximum punishment is a 3-year disqualification of driving privileges.
Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Georgia
The Traffic Court Reference Manual provided by the Department of Driver Services (D. S. S.) is a compendium of traffic violations in Georgia. Summarily, felony traffic violations in Georgia include:
- Vehicular homicide
- Homicide by interference with an official traffic-control device
- Vehicular homicide while driving with no license or suspended license
- Vehicular feticide
- Vehicular feticide with prior convictions of any traffic-related assault, manslaughter or homicide
- Serious injury by a vehicle without malicious aforethought
- Habitual D. U. I. violation (more than 3 D. U. I. convictions)
- Driving while declared as a habitual violator during a five-year revocation period
- Driving without a license (four or more offenses within five years)
- Fleeing the police or roadblock
- Hit and run (i.e., fleeing the scene of an accident with property damage or serious bodily harm)
- Tampering with traffic control devices or road materials resulting in severe physical damage to government property
- Reckless driving or D. U. I. with a prior traffic felony conviction
- Endangering a child while driving under the influence of a substance
- Unlawful or fraudulent application or use of a license
What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Georgia?
Traffic misdemeanors in Georgia are driving offenses that are less serious than felony traffic violations but more serious than traffic infractions. The nature of these offenses and appropriate punishments vary under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated. However, misdemeanors are punishable by a maximum jail term of 12 months and other penalties specified under the Official Code of Georgia Annotated.
Furthermore, the assignment of penalty for traffic misdemeanors is based on the factors surrounding the violation and the individual’s driving history. For instance, a first traffic misdemeanor like D. U. I. will attract a penalty ranging from a minimum fine of $300; 40 hours (minimum) of community service; completion of a D. U. I. Risk Reduction Program; suspension of license; to maximum jail time of 12 months. The presiding judge has the discretion to impose any of these penalties.
The Department of Driver Services is the official body that awards penalty points against driving licenses. Depending on the driver’s age, cumulative points may result in increased fines, suspension, or permanent loss of a driver’s license.
Adult drivers who accumulate 15 or more points with 24 months will have their licenses suspended or revoked. Also, the Teenage and Adult Drivers Responsibility Act (T. A.D. R. A.) imposes stiffer penalties on younger drivers. Drivers under 21 who accumulate four or more points within 12 months will have their licenses suspended.
Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In Ohio
The Traffic Court Reference Manual provided by the Department of Driver Services (D. S. S.) is a compendium of traffic violations in Georgia. Summarily, these are some examples of traffic misdemeanors in Georgia:
- Driving under the influence of alcohol, drugs, or other intoxicating substances (first offense)
- Racing on highways or streets (including drag racing)
- Driving in a circular or irregular course
- Pedestrian under the influence of alcohol or drug
- Driving away without paying for gasoline
- Riding as a passenger in the uncovered bed of a pickup truck on an interstate highway (the driver shall be guilty of a misdemeanor)
- Use, possession with the ability to use, sell or purchase traffic-control device preemption emitter
- Knowingly driving a motor vehicle on suspended, canceled, or revoked vehicle registration.
What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Georgia?
Generally, traffic infractions are regulatory offenses and ordinance violations that are not punishable by a jail term. In Georgia, traffic infractions are typically the least severe types of traffic offenses compared to traffic felonies and misdemeanors. A point schedule measures traffic infractions. Accumulated points are punishable by fines imposed through citations or tickets or even license suspension as specified by the Department of Driver Services.
An individual charged with a traffic infraction may pay the fines by the date due on the citation. Paying the fine is an automatic admission of guilt that could result in the award of penalty points. On the other hand, contesting a ticket in court gives the individual a chance of being acquitted. Less often, an offender may ignore the citation. Ignoring a citation invites severe implications, and the court will issue a Failure to Appear (F. T. A.). F. T. A. results in a bench warrant issued for arrest and $200 in fines or three days in jail.
Examples Of Traffic Infractions In Georgia?
Generally, traffic infractions are offenses that do not cause any injury or damage to body or property. Some examples include:
- Exceeding limits on the appropriate sound volume
- Failure to obey a traffic signal or light
- Failure to yield to oncoming traffic
- Failure to yield to bicycle
- Failure to yield to an emergency vehicle
- Improper use of signal
- Unlawful passing of school bus
- Driving at less than minimum speed
- Improper use of child or youth restraint (under the age of 8)
- Failure to obey person directing traffic
How Do Traffic Tickets Work in Georgia?
In Georgia, a traffic ticket is a broad term for any notice issued by law enforcement to drivers, road users, or pedestrians when they have violated traffic laws. Georgia law enforcement classifies and issues traffic tickets based on whether the offense was a moving or non-moving violation.
Moving tickets, also known as speeding tickets, are the most common, and these constitute a citation and summons to appear in a traffic court. Moving traffic violations in Georgia are typically misdemeanors. In this case, a determination of guilt is only made in the traffic court. On the other hand, non-moving tickets, also known as parking tickets, typically involve the determination of guilt on the spot. In this case, the traffic officer may award points based on the nature of the violation.
Furthermore, Georgia has a Super Speeder Law where an individual is issued a citation for driving at 75 mph or faster on a two-lane road or 85 mph or faster on any Georgia road or highway. In this case, the penalty is a ticket and a $200 fine and other applicable fines. Failure to pay these fines within 120 days leads to the suspension of the driver’s license. In this scenario, the offender will have to pay the fine and a $50 license-reinstatement fee.
How To Get A Traffic Ticket Dismissed In Georgia
The process of getting a traffic ticket dismissed in Georgia is typically complex, but it is usually possible with the aid of an attorney. The court only dismisses a traffic ticket if the driver is found not guilty at their hearing. Furthermore, under the O. C. G. A. § 40–13–32, an individual must challenge a traffic violation conviction within 90 days, or the conviction becomes permanent on their record.
Are Driving Records Public In Georgia?
Driving records, also known as Motor Vehicle Records (M. V. R.), or Driving History Report, are public records under the Georgia Open Records Law. A Driving History Report is a document that contains the traffic offenses, reported accidents, and convictions of an individual as well as license suspensions or revocations. Sensitive information like social security number, residential address, and credit card information are typically redacted.
Parties who can request an M. V. R. in Georgia include:
- Individual mentioned in the record
- Individuals with a written consent signed by the individual mentioned in the record
- Individuals with a court order
- Employers or businesses
- Insurance companies
- Law enforcement and government agencies
- Private investigative agents/agencies
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in.
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How To Find Driving Records In Georgia?
The Georgia Department of Driver Services (D. S. S.) maintains and disseminates certified copies of driving records in Georgia. The eligible requester must complete and submit a signed authorization form along with the necessary identification documents. Requests to obtain driving history are made in person, by mail or online. Records obtained via these means will detail the driving history for three years or seven years, depending on the requester’s selection. Mail requests involve completing a request form and mailing it along with a self-addressed stamped envelope with the applicable fees.
Direct requests to:
Georgia Department of Driver Services
M. V. R. Request
P. O. Box 80447
Conyers, Georgia 30013
A 3-year history report costs $6.00, while a 7-year history report costs $8.00. Fees are payable via check, money order, or credit card. Mail requests paid with a credit card must include a completed credit card authorization form. Likewise, checks and money orders must be made payable to the Department of Driver Services.
Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged/Sealed In Georgia?
Traffic violations can be expunged if the case qualifies. Examples of qualifications include when the party is found not guilty of the charges, if the court dismisses the charges, or if the violation is not prosecuted. However, the term “expungement” actually refers to record restriction as of July 1, 2013, under Georgia law. In this case, the record is restricted from public viewing and only made available to law enforcement and certain government agencies.
On the other hand, under the O. C. G. A. § 40–5–86, a driver may apply for a point reduction of up to 7 points every five years. To qualify, the individual must complete a certified driver improvement course and submit the original certificate to the D. D. S. by mail or in person.
Send points reduction application to:
Georgia Department of Driver Services
P. O. Box 80447, Conyers
The restriction of traffic violations and infractions from public view is not automatic even if the case qualifies. The individual has to apply through an attorney.