In California, there are three broad categories of traffic violations. From the least to most serious, they are: infractions, misdemeanors, and felonies. Depending on how your traffic violation is classified, you may be facing a range of consequences from a small fine to jail time. Continue reading to learn about the penalties for each type of traffic violation, as well as some examples of each.


Most traffic violations are infractions, which are defined as an act or omission that is prohibited by law but is not a crime. Infractions carry relatively minor penalties, typically involving a small fine and no jail time. As such, many drivers do not take infractions seriously, but these traffic violations can add up. Generally, there is a base penalty with additional fees added depending on the severity of the offense. These additional fees can considerably increase how much you must pay. If you fail to pay the fines, you may even be at risk for jail time. In addition, the court may require you to attend traffic school or add points to your driving record. If you accumulate a certain number of points, you will face increased insurance premiums and even the loss of your driving privileges. 

Some examples of traffic infractions include: 

  • Speeding 
  • Running a red light 
  • Not wearing a seatbelt 
  • Having an expired license 


Misdemeanor offenses are the next level of traffic violations. They are considered criminal violations and thus carry more severe consequences than infractions. The penalties for a misdemeanor can include fines, up to a year in jail, and probation. Misdemeanor violations also add up to two points to your driving record, which can lead to license suspension if you accumulate too many points within a certain period of time. These offenses often require you to appear in court, so it is best to contact a traffic attorney if you are charged with a misdemeanor. 

Traffic violations that are classified as misdemeanors include: 

  • Reckless driving 
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) 
  • Driving without a valid license 


The final class of traffic violations are felonies, which are the most serious type of offense. Typically, felonies involve serious bodily injury to another person or property damage. If you are convicted of a felony offense, you may face significant fines and more than one year in prison. Convicted felons have other personal and professional consequences as well, such as having limited employment and housing opportunities, being prohibited from owning guns, and getting a strike under California’s Three Strikes Law. However, many traffic offenses can be negotiated down to lesser charges by a skilled attorney. If you are being charged with a felony, an experienced traffic attorney is necessary for your case. 

Felony traffic violations include: 

  • Vehicular homicide 
  • Hit and runs 
  • Repeat DUIs 

Whether you have been charged with an infraction, misdemeanor, or felony, you should consider contacting a traffic attorney to discuss your options. With the proper defenses, your attorney may be able to reduce your charges or even get your case dismissed. 

Contact Wallin & Klarich Today 

If you receive a ticket for a traffic offense, contact Wallin & Klarich as soon as possible to see how we can help. With 40+ years of experience, Wallin & Klarich is your best choice amongst Southern California criminal defense firms. Our traffic attorneys have helped thousands of clients reduce their penalties and maintain their driving privileges after a traffic violation, and we have the skills and resources to help you as well. 

With offices in Orange County, Riverside, San Bernardino, Victorville, Torrance, West Covina, Los Angeles, and San Diego, you are sure to find an available and convenient attorney near you. 

Discover how our team can assist you. Contact us today, toll-free at (877) 4-NO-JAIL or (877) 466-5245 for a free consultation with a skilled defense attorney.