misdemeanor traffic violations
Misdemeanor traffic violations can result in significant jail time.

California Misdemeanor Traffic Violations

After you receive a traffic ticket, the first thing you should do is understand the type of violation you have been cited for. Which section of the California vehicle code is the officer accusing you of having violated? Did the officer specify whether the citation was issued due to a misdemeanor or infraction traffic offense?

Misdemeanors vs. Infractions

There are two types of traffic violations you can be cited for in California: infractions and misdemeanors. These two types of violations are very different, so it is important for you to understand the severity of each. Infractions, which are punishable by a fine, are less severe and more common than misdemeanor traffic violations. Misdemeanor violations carry much harsher consequences. In addition to a hefty fine, you may face serious jail time if convicted of a misdemeanor.

Types of Misdemeanor Traffic Violations in California

The following are common traffic violations that are charged as misdemeanors in California:

Fleeing From an Officer (CVC 2800.1)

Under California Vehicle Code 2800.1, you can be charged with a misdemeanor crime if, while driving a vehicle, you willfully attempt to flee from an officer who is pursuing you in a motor vehicle or bicycle. If you are convicted of this crime, you face:

  • A sentence of up to 364 days in county jail (PC 672);
  • A fine of up to $1000;
  • Suspension of your drivers’ license for up to 6 months. (CVC 13201(d)); and/or
  • Impoundment of your vehicle for up to 30 days (CVC §14602.7(a)).

Unlawful Use of a Handicap Placard (CVC 4461)

Handicapped placard
Illegall use of a handicap placard

Under California Vehicle Code 4461, you can be charged with misdemeanor misuse of a handicap placard under any of the following circumstances:

  • You lended a validly issued disability placard to someone who is not authorized to use or own such a placard;
  • You knowingly allowed another person who is not entitled to use a disability placard to use one;
  • You used a disability parking placard that was issued to someone else, or one that was cancelled or revoked; or
  • You drove someone else’s car that has a valid disability placard and then parked in a reserved handicap parking spot.

If convicted of this crime, you face:

  • A maximum fine of up to $1000; and/or
  • A sentence of up to 6 months in county jail;

In addition, the court may impose a penalty of $100 imposed under CVC 4461.3, or a fine of up to $1500 for each additional conviction.

Driving Without a Valid Driver’s License. (CVC 12500(a))

Under California Vehicle Code 12500(a), you are prohibited from driving in California without a valid driver’s license. In order for it to be valid, your driver’s license must be valid for:

  1. The state in which you live; and
  2. The type of vehicle (car, motorcycle, commercial truck, etc.) that you are driving.

If charged with a misdemeanor crime of driving without a valid drivers’ license, you face:

  • Up to six months in county jail;
  • A maximum $1,000 fine; and/or
  • Impoundment of your car for 30 days.

Under California Vehicle Code 14607.6 and 14607.8, the court must inform you upon a first conviction that your motor vehicle is subject to forfeiture if you drive without a valid driver’s license on a highway in California. This law applies if you are the registered owner of the vehicle and have a prior misdemeanor conviction for a violation of Vehicle Code sections: 12500(a), 14601, 14601.1, 14601.2, 14601.3, 14601.4, or 14601.5.

Hit-and-Run Causing Injury or Death (CVC 20001 – 20004)

Hit & run
Hit and run causing injury

Under California Vehicle Code 20001 – 20004, it is illegal to leave the scene of an accident without first identifying yourself to the other people involved. If someone is injured or killed in the accident and you leave the scene, you face much more serious consequences.

A hit-and-run causing injury or death may be charged as either misdemeanor or felony. A misdemeanor hit-and-run causing injury or death is punishable by:

  • Imprisonment in county jail for up to 364 days;
  • A maximum $10,000 fine; and/or
  • Suspension of your license for one year (CVC 13350(a)(3).

A felony conviction for a hit-and-run causing injury or death is punishable by:

  • Two, three or four years is state prison;
  • A maximum 10,000 fine; and/or
  • Suspension of your license for one year (CVC 13350(a)(3).

Reckless Driving (CVC 23103)

Under California Vehicle Code 23103, “a person who drives a vehicle upon a highway in willful or wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property is guilty of reckless driving.”

If you are convicted of this crime, you face:

  • A sentence of up to 90 days in county jail; and/or
  • A fine of up to $1,000.

In addition, the court may suspend your driver’s license for up to 30 days upon a first conviction, up to 60 days upon a second conviction, and up to 6 months upon any subsequent conviction. (CVC 13200).

Call the Traffic Ticket Attorneys at Wallin & Klarich

Wallin & Klarich misdemeanor traffic violations attorneys
Speak to our traffic attorneys today

If you have been charged with a misdemeanor traffic violation, you need to speak with an experienced traffic attorney at Wallin & Klarich immediately. At Wallin & Klarich, our skilled and knowledgeable attorneys have over 40 years of experience successfully helping our clients fight misdemeanor traffic violations. Let us help you now.

With offices located in Los Angeles, Sherman Oaks, Torrance, Orange County, San Diego, Riverside, San Bernardino, Ventura, West Covina and Victorville, there is an experienced Wallin & Klarich traffic attorney available to help you no matter where you work or live.

Call us today at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5425 for a free phone consultation. We will get through this together.


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