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What Is the Difference Between Moving and Non-Moving Violations?

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If a police officer recently gave you a traffic ticket, you may wonder what penalties you can face. In the state of Washington, law enforcement places traffic tickets into one of two categories: moving and non-moving violations. The penalties you will have to defend yourself from will vary based on the severity of the charge, which category it falls into, and the level of damage that the police allege that the incident caused.

What Is a Moving Violation?

You will receive a moving violation charge if the crime that the police are accusing you of occurred when the vehicle is moving. The Washington Administrative Code defines the following crimes as moving violations. They range in severity from making an improper lane change and other minor traffic violations to dangerous driving behaviors, such as distracted and intoxicated driving.

  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Being in physical control of a vehicle while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Vehicular homicide or vehicular assault
  • Reckless driving or racing
  • Hit and runs
  • Eluding a police vehicle
  • Having an open container of alcohol in your vehicle
  • First and second-degree negligent driving
  • Failure to obey a road sign
  • Being under the age of 21 and driving while under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Being a commercial driver and operating a commercial vehicle while under the influence
  • Speeding anywhere, including a school zone
  • Failure to obey a school crossing guard, police officer, firefighter, or other official
  • Using an electronic device while driving.

The above list is not exhaustive, as the Administrative Code defines over 70 different driving infractions that qualify as moving violations. Moving violations can stay on your record for a very long time, impacting your insurance rates and potentially your ability to drive.

The penalties that you could face for a moving violation depend on the type of crime the police allege that you committed. For example, a speeding ticket may require you to go to traffic court and attend traffic school, as well as pay a fine. However, if police arrest you for speeding while you are under the influence of alcohol, you could face jail time, high fines, license suspension, and other administrative penalties.

What Is a Non-Moving Violation?

On the other hand, you receive a non-moving violation if the incident occurs when the vehicle is not moving. In the state of Washington, the police will charge you with a non-moving violation if you violated parking rules, fail to renew your license and registration, or drive without insurance. Many different infractions can qualify as a non-moving violation – check with a Tacoma defense attorney to determine whether or not your charge falls under this category.

Non-moving violations can appear on your driving record in Washington, unlike many other states. Both moving and non-moving violations will remain on your record for three years – but unlike moving violations, non-moving violations usually do not have an impact on your insurance rates.

Penalties for non-moving violations are usually less harsh than moving violation consequences. Depending on the type of infraction, you will usually have to pay a traffic ticket and face administrative penalties, such as license suspension until you renew your insurance. It is not likely that you will face jail time for a non-moving violation.

When Do You Need an Attorney for a Traffic Ticket?

Knowing the difference between a moving and a non-moving violation can help you determine what type of legal issues you may face. Moving violations can have long-term consequences for you, including jail time, fines, and significant administrative punishments. If you believe that you could face criminal charges for the infraction, contact a Washington criminal defense attorney as soon as possible.

Depending on the facts of your case, your attorney could help you negotiate the terms of the sentence and work towards the best possible outcome. He or she will guide you through the criminal justice system and help you prepare for what is next. Speak to an attorney with experience in moving violations to determine your legal options.

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