In Florida, a traffic ticket for failing to come to a stop for a school is a civil traffic infraction and not a criminal charge. The traffic law states that any driver "shall, upon approaching any school bus which displays a stop signal, bring such vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped, and the vehicle shall not pass the school bus until the signal has been withdrawn." Failing to stop for a school bus is always a moving violation. Then it gets more confusing.
Driving on a suspended license can be a criminal or civil case in Florida. Too many charges of driving while suspended can result in a 5-year revocation of a driver's license as a habitual offender.
What if you received a traffic citation in Florida but you live in another state and cannot come back to fight the ticket in Court? There is a fundamental right to travel in the United States. However, when using the roads such as north Florida's main arteries of I-75, US 301, US 441 a driver can be ticketed even if they ain't from around here and are unfamiliar with the area. Some drivers call the office and feel that they may have even been targeted because they are from out of town or just visiting. We can defend the citation in court and maybe have it thrown out, dismissed or have a driver found not guilty, but we cannot change the circumstance that the driver stands accused. We defend against the accusation.
In DUI defense a common question or problem involves the "ignition interlock device". The law on the ignition interlock device states that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles "shall require the placement of a department-approved ignition interlock device for any person convicted of committing an offense of driving under the influence as specified".
Traffic tickets are issued for single vehicle or car crashes. A person ticketed for careless driving, failing to maintain a lane, or any other traffic citation charge brought as a result of a crash involving only one vehicle should always chose to take the infraction to court. In that instance the person cited received the ticket because there was an accident and for no other reason.
Some traffic tickets are issued as "Infraction Court Appearance Required" sometimes also referred to as Mandatory Appearance citations. The only choice is whether to hire a lawyer or go into court unrepresented. In general, if the case requires an appearance, then the person should have counsel. Failure to appear in court will cause harsh consequences. Near the bottom of a Uniform Traffic Citation, on the left hand side there are three boxes. From top to bottom those boxes should be Criminal Traffic, Court appearance required and, Infraction which does not require appearance in court.
School zones are heavily monitored. Therefore, in traffic ticket defense, we seeseveral citations issued to people for failing to stop at a red light (or behind the stop bar), failing to yield, failure to obey a traffic control device and of course speeding through a school zone. The cities on US Highway 301 (Waldo and Lawtey) still write a bunch of tickets even though their signage has improved over the years.
Part of the traffic ticket practice is clearing suspensions in the best possible way. Common reasons for suspensions are for failing to address the citation within thirty (30) days, failing to pay, failing to complete traffic school, failing to appear in Court in a criminal case, warrants, child support etc. Of course there are many other reasons a driver's license can be suspended and each case is unique.
Often times, people will call the office immediately after having received a traffic ticket and ask "what are my options?" The answer like everything else in the law is that "it depends". Traffic citations can be criminal or civil infractions. People accused of some civil traffic infractions are required to have a hearing. We refer to these as mandatory citations or appearance required citations and the citaiton should have a box checked next to "Infraction court appearance requred".
Almost every week I hear from people who have just been informed that they have been habitualized in the worst way. Apparently, ordinary people (not defense lawyers) trust the government and just pay a fine on a traffic ticket, especially when that fine is overdue. A common complaint will go something like this: "I just paid a ticket to get my license back and now I am being told that I am a Habitual Traffic Offender and my license is gone for five (5) years." Almost always the ticket that was paid recently is for driving on a suspended license.