Traffic Court Defense Lawyers in Florida
How to Beat a Traffic Ticket in Florida
The Florida Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles states that there are about 2 million non-criminal traffic violations and another 300,000 criminal traffic violations each year in Florida.
Suppose you or a member of your family receives a moving violation or any type of traffic citation in the State of Florida. In that case, it is essential that you speak to an experienced traffic court defense lawyer immediately to understand the impact of the violation and protect your legal rights.
Traffic Court Procedures in Florida
Traffic courts follow the Florida Rules of Traffic Court when hearing a traffic infraction case. These rules are unique to Florida and are applicable to traffic misdemeanor cases and civil traffic violations. These procedures include:
- • discovery rules in speeding ticket cases.
- • special rules for amending the traffic infraction;
- • a 180 day speedy trial period for traffic infractions beginning when the defendant is served with the citation;
- • a twelve (12) month statute of limitations for any traffic infraction;
- • rules for when a mandatory hearing is required for a traffic infraction;
- • mandatory driving school requirements; and
- • rules for the points system in Florida for traffic infractions and offenses.
Non-criminal Traffic Violations in Florida
Traffic violations that are not criminal are referred to as civil traffic infractions. Most of these infractions require the offender to attend traffic school and/or pay monetary fines.
Civil traffic infractions are categorized as nonmoving and moving violations. Such violations include, without limitation, the following:
- • Driving Too Slowly
- • Speeding Tickets
- • Illegal Turn
- • Speeding Zone
- • Traffic Signs
- • Traffic Lights
- • Tailgating
- • Express Lane Violations
- • Driving While License Suspended without Knowledge
- • Passing a School Bus
- • Handicap Tickets
- • Illegal U-Turn
- • Improper Lane Changes
- • Distracted Driving
- • Careless Driving
- • Seat Belt Violation
- • Toll Violation
- • Driving without Insurance
Criminal Traffic Violations in Florida
There are moving infractions that constitute criminal traffic violations in Florida. Those who are facing accusations of a criminal traffic violation are often required to make a court appearance. While non-criminal traffic violations usually require a driver to pay fines, criminal traffic violations may include fines as well as imprisonment for a certain period of time. Criminal traffic violations may be charged as a felony or misdemeanor offense, and often include, without limitation, the following:
- • Driving While License Suspended with Knowledge
- • No Valid Driver's License
- • Reckless Driving
- • Fleeing or Attempting to Elude
- • Driving under the influence (DUI)
- • Violation of Driving Restriction
- • Leaving the Scene of a Crash (Hit and Run)
- • Racing on Highways
- • Driving on a Habitual Traffic Offender (HTO) Revocation
Rule 6.340(c) and Hiring a Seasoned Traffic Violation Lawyer in Florida
If you received a traffic citation in Florida, do not pay the monetary fine without first calling Musca Law to represent your legal rights and interests. Under Rule 3.40(c), a lawyer can make an appearance on behalf of the accused without filing an affidavit of defense or having the defendant present.
Appealing a Traffic Court Decision in Florida
If the judge rendered a guilty verdict, you may be able to appeal the decision. Filing an appeal does not mean that you are entitled to a new trial. The appeal is reviewed by the appellate department of the court, which reviews the exhibits and testimony during the original trial.
The following information sheet outlining the appeals process is found on the State Judicial Council's website: Information on Appeal Procedures for Infractions.
Failure to Appear at a Traffic Court Hearing in Florida
If you miss a court date such as a failure to appear following the receipt of a notice to appear, the court can issue a capias warrant for your arrest. In some circumstances, defense counsel can file a motion to seek a withdrawal of the failure to appear warrant. This must be done as soon as possible, as the prosecutor has to discretion to file more charges against you if you did not appear in court and remain a fugitive from justice.
Under Florida Statute Section 843.15(b), it is a misdemeanor in the first-degree when a person fails to appear in court. Under Florida State Section 843.15(a), t is a felony in the third-degree when a person fails to appear in court.
Illegally Passing a Bus in Florida
Each day, school buses take children to school. In order to keep them safe, school buses are equipped with certain safety features, such as flashing red and yellow lights, along with an extendable stop arm. This allows students to safely enter and exit a bus.
There appears to be quite a bit of confusion as to when it is permissible to pass a school bus that is stopped on a roadway. According to Florida law, a person located behind a school bus must stop his or her vehicle and remain stopped until the bus withdraws its signals and stop arm.
There are exceptions to this rule, however. For example, a driver is permitted to pass a school bus that is stopped if he or she is going on the opposite direction of the bus in a location where the highway or roadway is divided by (i) a raised median, including an island or curbed area between the opposite lanes of traffic; (ii) a space of at least five feet of surface that is unpaved (such as a grassy median) between the opposite lanes of traffic; or (iii) a physical boundary such as a cement barrier or fence between the opposite lanes of traffic.
Penalties for Illegally Passing a School Bus
The consequences of illegally passing a school bus are:
- • A mandatory hearing
- • Completion of an approved basic Driver Improvement Course
- • A fine of $165 for passing on the opposing traffic side of the street from the bus, and up to six months in jail
- • A moving violation citation accompanied by four points on your driving record
- • A fine of $265 for passing on the same side of the street as the bus, and up to one year in jail
The consequences of causing death or serious injuries include:
- • More than one year in prison
- • $1500 monetary fine
- • One-year minimum driver license suspension
- • A mandatory hearing
- • Six points added to your driving record
- • Participation in a victim impact panel, or completion of an approved Driver Improvement Course
- • Community service
- • Probation
Unsafe Driving in a Construction Zone
In Florida, unsafe driving in construction zones is heavily prosecuted. The Florida Department of Transportation reported that back in 2016, the state saw the most construction zone deaths in the nation. Because crashes in construction zones often cause serious injuries and even death, drivers face double the fines if they violate the law in work zones when workers are in the vicinity.
Examples of unsafe driving in a construction zone include:
- • Distracted driving
- • Merging without signaling
- • Tailgating
- • Speeding
• Failing to slow down and exercise caution when passing a work or emergency vehicle that is stopped on the roadway in the construction zone
If an individual operates his or her vehicle in an unsafe manner in a construction zone, he or she can face monetary fines from $50 to $500. The driver may also have points added to his or her license. Higher fines can be imposed as well as jail time and other penalties if the offender has prior offenses, including a DUI. Other consequences may include a mandatory hearing, the completion of a driver improvement course, and a suspension of one's license.
Red Light Camera Traffic Tickets in Florida
A red light camera is a device placed at an intersection that records drivers committing a red light infraction. As a driver passes over a sensor at an intersection when there is a red light, it automatically takes a photo of the vehicle as well as the front license plate. The picture taken of a driver committing an infraction serves as a major ally in the prosecution of the case. Once the infraction is caught on camera, a program of enforcement automatically issues a ticket that is mailed to the owner of the vehicle. The camera is also able to capture up to 12 seconds of video showing the infraction.
If you stop over the line at an intersection, turned right or left at a red light, or passed through the intersection at a red light, you may be caught in violation of the red light camera. If you do so, you can face steep monetary fines, points on your license, higher insurance premiums, and other consequences that can negatively affect your driving record.
As noted above, in Florida, the registered owner of the vehicle receives the red light violation ticket. It does not matter whether someone was borrowing your car when the violation occurred. However, this scenario can be challenged in traffic court.
Over the past several years, there have been several debates as to the legality of red-light cameras. Although Florida's House of Representatives issued approval of banning these devices back in 2017, the Florida Supreme Court ruled that they are legal and in the public's interests because they promote driver safety.
While the costs of a red light camera violation vary per state, the typical fines associated with a ticket in this regard is approximately $160. This fee can be increased to $300 if a person fails to pay his or her ticket after receiving the citation by mail.
Contact the Florida traffic ticket defense attorneys at Musca Law for your free and confidential case evaluation at 1-888-484-5057.