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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Connecticut?

In Connecticut, all legal offenses that are traffic-related are referred to as traffic violations or traffic infractions. The Superior Court hears cases regarding traffic offenses. Per Connecticut General Statute (CGS) section 51–164m, infractions are typically less severe offenses than violations defined by CGS section 53a–27. Both offenses can lead to a trial, but a violation can include felonies, often leading to jail time.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Connecticut?

The most severe traffic offenses in Connecticut are categorized as felony traffic violations. Felony traffic violations are criminal offenses that cause or threaten property destruction or injury to an individual. A common felony traffic violation in Connecticut is a DUI charge or driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol.

Connecticut has Persistent Offender Laws, also known as the three-strikes law. The three-strikes law mandates more extensive punishments for individuals who have been convicted of the same or similar crime three times. The law allows state attorneys to prosecute offenders for felonies if they have been convicted of three or more similar misdemeanors. Suppose the offender has two arrests for reckless driving defined by CGS § 14–222, and gets another charge of reckless driving, the individual will likely face a felony charge instead of another misdemeanor charge.

According to the Connecticut Penal Code, punishment for traffic felonies in Connecticut can consist of fines, probation, and jail time. If the individual is facing prison time, sentences vary depending on the felony class:

  • Capital Felony: execution or life without the possibility of release
  • Class A felony: 10–25 years or 25–60 years in prison
  • Class B Felony: 1–20 years in prison
  • Class C Felony: 1–10 years in prison
  • Class D Felony: 1–5 years in prison

There are unclassified felonies that also may result in imprisonment but are not included in the state penal code.

Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Connecticut

Some examples of felony traffic violations in Connecticut are:

  • Aggravated or multiple DUI charges
  • Vehicular homicide or manslaughter
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Hit and run
  • Striking a pedestrian in a crosswalk
  • Persistently driving with a revoked or suspended license

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Connecticut?

Traffic misdemeanors in Connecticut are often given in the form of a ticket or citation. Although misdemeanors are less severe than felonies, penalties for misdemeanor traffic violations may incur fines, prison sentences, or both. If the misdemeanor is grievous, the driver may be taken into custody for criminal traffic violations and made to post bail before release. A court date will be set, and offenders have the right to an attorney and a jury trial. Failure to make a court appearance on the date listed on the citation given for a traffic misdemeanor often results in the court issuing an arrest warrant for the individual.

Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In Connecticut

Common misdemeanor offenses in Connecticut include:

  • Driving under the influence (DUI)
  • Driving with a suspended or revoked license
  • Driving with an invalid license
  • Speeding 40 mph or more over the speed limit
  • Racing
  • Reckless driving
  • Leaving the scene of an accident
  • Driving on the wrong side of a highway
  • Possession of alcohol (for persons under 21 years of age)

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Connecticut?

Connecticut traffic infractions are not crimes and are typically the least consequential kind of traffic violation. The penalties for most traffic infractions are payment of fines and the addition of points to the individual’s driving record. One infraction citation may not lead to arrest, but it will result in one point on the driving record. Anyone with six to nine points on their driving record will receive a warning from the DMV and will be required to complete a driving class. Ten or more points will result in the suspension of a license for 30 days. After that, receiving another ten points within five years of the previous suspension will result in a suspension of up to two years.

Fees for all traffic infractions are set by statutes, unlike certain traffic misdemeanors and felonies. Fines for traffic infractions are imposed by the Superior Court judges, which hears cases related to moving and non-moving traffic violations.

Only one point will be added to a driving record if an individual receives a traffic infraction and chooses to pay the amount listed on the Centralized Infractions Bureau ticket. However, it is essential to note that paying the fee for a traffic infraction may result in other penalties such as suspension of driver’s license and the charge being listed on the driver’s record. Parties wishing to find more information about traffic infractions and the Connecticut DMV can call Driver Services at (860) 263–5720.

Connecticut General Statute section 51–164m outlines the penalties parties may face if convicted of a traffic infraction. Typically, parties will be required to pay $100 to $300 depending on the severity of the infraction and how many infractions the driver has accumulated over time. If the offender receives multiple infraction tickets, the fees will be higher than a first-time traffic infraction charge.

Some examples of traffic infraction include:

Traffic infractions are given in the form of a ticket due to a driver breaking one or more traffic rules, but not severe enough to be categorized as a crime. Examples of traffic infractions are:

  • Speeding
  • Failure to stop
  • Failure to yield
  • Failure to signal correctly
  • Seat belt violations
  • Driving a vehicle without proper lighting
  • Littering on a highway
  • Use of electronic devices while operating a vehicle
  • Unsafe turns or lane changes
  • Parking illegally
  • Driving slower than the speed limit

How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In Connecticut?

Traffic tickets, also commonly referred to as citations, are notices from law enforcement officers asserting that a driver has broken a traffic rule or committed a traffic crime.

Types of traffic tickets in Connecticut are classified into two categories: moving and non-moving. Moving violations can be further categorized into misdemeanors and felonies. A ticket will include a court date, also referred to as a “Notice to Appear,” along with all necessary information regarding the court location where the appearance must occur and the fees associated with the charge.

If the charge is not severe, parties have the option to pay the ticket online or by mail. Online payment for a traffic ticket can only be made using a credit or debit card, and parties must be prepared to enter the citation number and first three letters of the last name as it appears on the ticket. Paying the fee for a ticket by mail must include the ticket itself and check for the exact amount to be paid as indicated on the ticket, made out to the Clerk of Superior Court. Once this is collected, put the items in a self-addressed envelope and mail it to:

Centralized Infractions Bureau
P. O. Box 5044
Hartford, CT 06102–5044

Failure to pay the fee by the date indicated on the ticket or failure to appear in court often results in increased fines and even the issuing of an arrest warrant. Individuals must note that paying a traffic ticket in Connecticut is the equivalent of pleading Guilty or No Contest to the charges placed upon them. Once an individual pays for the fee listed on the ticket, the case will be closed. Connecticut also offers the option for individuals to participate in the Online Ticket Review System. Parties must enter the citation number and the first three letters of the last name on the ticket and view the ticket information. The system has options for individuals to plead Not Guilty and have a prosecutor review the case online and its facts.

Parties also have the option of attending the scheduled court date and pleading Not Guilty directly to the court or bureau. The court will set a new date, and parties will receive a Notice of Transfer from the Centralized Infractions Bureau. Individuals who wish to plead Not Guilty can do so online, by mail using the address listed on the ticket, or by telephone to the Centralized Infractions Bureau at (860) 263–2750, from 9 a.m. to 5 p.m. Monday through Friday. The court clerk nearest where the ticket was issued can answer all questions regarding the court proceedings following a Not Guilty plea. The specific court address can be found on the backside of the ticket.

Individuals in Connecticut may also have the option to write a letter to a prosecutor to get the case nulled, meaning the court will drop the charges, and no further action will be necessary. If the prosecutor states that the party does not qualify to have the case nulled, the party must appear in court and face the penalties.

Individuals can also attend court on the date to appear, plead guilty, and pay the associated fines. Failure to respond to a ticket within the time-frame indicated on it will lead to the assignment of a court date, suspension of driver’s license, and the reopening fee of $60.00 to the Clerk of Court. A charge of “Failure to Pay or Plead” will also be added to the original charges.

Are Driving Records Public In Connecticut?

The Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), Section 1–200 of the Connecticut General Statutes, states that the public can access all state agencies’ publicly available records. However, driving records are not considered publicly available in the state, and the records cannot be accessed through the FOIA. Driving records include all information regarding an individual’s license, permit, vehicle, and registration. According to Connecticut’s privacy laws, Section 14–10 of the Connecticut General Statutes, along with the Federal Driver’s Privacy Protection Act, personal information contained in driving records is restricted from public access. As defined by the Act, personal information includes driving history, vehicle registration, vehicle titles, and driver’s license information.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching simpler, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for a specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:

  • The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
  • The location or assumed location of the record or person involved. This includes information such as the city, county, or state that person resides in or was accused in.

Third-party sites are independent from government sources, and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.

How To Find Driving Records In Connecticut?

Although members of the public can not obtain driving records, individuals can request personal driving records if the parties provide the correct information and justification to the DMV. Necessary information includes the full name of the person listed on the ticket and valid, government-issued photo identification. Individuals can make requests for personal driving records in person at the local DMV location or by mail. Fees for driving records requests may vary depending on the type of document requested and the number of copies. Parties must send mail-in requests for personal driving records to:

DMV Legal Services
FOIA Coordinator
Room 164
60 State Street
Wethersfield, CT 06161

Can Traffic Violations And Infractions Be Expunged Or Sealed In Connecticut?

Yes, it is possible to seal or expunge traffic violations and infractions in Connecticut. Individuals or companies must petition to have driving records sealed or expunged in Connecticut. The court can typically expunge a traffic infraction or misdemeanor violation. A felony traffic violation is often more challenging to qualify for, but it is possible. In terms of traffic violations, a court will not grant an expunction if the charge was a federal crime, a felony in a different state, or a violent crime. The court can only remove DUI charges from a record by petitioning the court after ten years from the issued date. It may also be easier for minors to succeed in expunging traffic violations on driving records.

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