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CT defense lawyerOriginally published: July 29, 2018 -- Updated: June 3, 2021

UPDATE: Drivers who use cell phones or other electronic devices while driving may be subject to traffic violations as described below. However, distracted driving may also result in criminal charges if it leads to an accident that causes a person’s death.

Connecticut law does not specifically define the offense of causing a fatality due to using a cell phone or texting while driving. Depending on the circumstances of a case, a person may be charged with multiple types of criminal offenses:

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Fairfield traffic ticket defense attorneyMost adults have received at least one or two traffic citations in their lifetime. They may have driven above the speed limit, run a red light, or failed to stop fully at a stop sign. While traffic violations are typically considered minor offenses, the consequences can be significant. Penalties for traffic infractions may include stiff fines, and, if you have accumulated too many demerit points, suspension of your driver’s license. If you have recently been issued a traffic ticket, you may wonder what your options are for challenging the ticket, or if it is in your best interests to contest the ticket by pleading not guilty.

Is My Ticket Worth Fighting?

Many people do not realize that they have the option to contest a traffic ticket. Others understand that this option is available but assume that the time and energy needed to challenge the traffic violation is simply not worth it. If you are questioning whether or not to plead not guilty to your traffic violation, consider the following:

  • Did you actually commit the offense that you have been accused of?
  • Do you have any evidence you can use to prove your innocence?
  • Will paying the fine cause you considerable financial stress?
  • Will the ticket lead to a significant increase in your car insurance payment?
  • Are you facing suspension of your driver’s license?

If you did not commit the traffic infraction, the ticket will create a significant financial burden, or you are facing license suspension or other significant consequences, it may be a good idea to contest the ticket.

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IL defense attorneyGiven the recent scarcity of traffic on Connecticut roads, it is perhaps understandable that Connecticut police have been issuing more speeding tickets in recent months, as less traffic usually means more chances to speed. That said, it is never a good idea to speed, even if you believe that no one is watching. The ensuing ticket may seem inconsequential, but its future ramifications can be very serious.

Speeding Leads to More Fatalities

Despite the significant decrease in traffic on Connecticut’s roads, statistics from the National Safety Council point to a major increase in road traffic fatalities for the state in 2020, with the state seeing a 42 percent jump in fatalities per miles driven between March 2019 and March 2020. Overall, the auto accident death rate is approximately 2 percent higher in 2020 than it was in 2018 or 2019, which reverses the downward trend in those years. Anecdotal evidence abounds to suggest that a major proportion of those being injured and dying on state roads are speeding or otherwise driving in a reckless manner.

Even if you are not driving recklessly, you can still exceed the speed limit and receive a ticket for the offense. Connecticut law has specific speed limits - 55 mph on most roads, and 65 mph on highways - but the relevant statute also bars driving “at such a rate of speed” so that they “endanger the life” of any occupant of the car. If a passenger can make a reasonable case that they believed their life was in danger while being a passenger in your vehicle, while you were driving, you may wind up being ticketed, if not arrested and charged.

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IL traffic attorneyThe overwhelming majority of drivers have been ticketed during their lifetimes, most often for relatively minor offenses. However, minor tickets can add up, or some Connecticut traffic offenses are considered major enough that you could actually be facing jail time. If you have been ticketed for a traffic offense, it can be tempting to simply plead guilty and pay the fine, or comply with other requirements, but this can open you up to potentially serious legal trouble.

Do Not Ignore Traffic Tickets

People who are ticketed for moving violations or other traffic offenses do not often treat them with the seriousness they should. Because the consequences are often seen as inconsequential - for example, a well-off driver cited for speeding may face a small fine, especially if it is a first offense - many people simply choose to pay the ticket, unaware that they are basically admitting guilt when they do so. In Connecticut, paying a traffic ticket without contesting it is considered a plea of nolo contendere (“no contest”), meaning you do not dispute what you are being charged with.

Any kind of guilty plea carries consequences - it may place one or more points on your driver’s license, as well as requiring driver re-education courses and rarely, may even result in a license suspension. That said, some traffic offenses are, of course, more serious than others, resulting in property damage, injury, or even death. Offenses like evading responsibility (also known as leaving the scene of an accident), driving a vehicle without permission (which can be charged as grand theft auto), or vehicular homicide will usually result in not only in the driving consequences articulated, but also, potentially, in a long prison term.

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CT defense lawyerThere are several different reasons that your Connecticut driver’s license might be suspended, from accumulating too many points on your record to driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs. Depending on the underlying reasons for the suspension, getting your license back can be a time-consuming endeavor, even though you may need your car to get to school or work. If you have an experienced attorney to help you negotiate the process, it can mean that you get your license back sooner.

Why Suspension?

Between adult and teen drivers, there are countless reasons that a court may either suspend your license or in the case of teen drivers, refuse to grant your application for a license. In addition to point accumulation or DUI, adults can lose their license for failing to answer a summons or pass a remedial drivers’ education course, for committing crimes like vehicular homicide, and for having too many accumulated traffic violations. Teens can have their license suspended for reckless driving or any kind of offense that implies recklessness; these offenses are violations of Connecticut’s teen driving statutes.

Regardless of the reason, you are not permitted to drive any kind of motor vehicle under any circumstances (with very rare exceptions) until your driving privileges have been restored and you have a valid license or learners’ permit in your possession. If you are caught driving on a suspended license, you can be charged with criminal penalties, facing up to 90 days in jail and fines of a minimum $150 for a first offense. If you are caught driving on a suspended license a second or third time, both the jail time and the fines will rise exponentially.

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