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What Are Traffic Violations And Infractions In Illinois?

In Illinois, a traffic offense refers to possible offenses a driver may commit while operating a vehicle. Illinois categorizes most of these offenses as an infraction or a violation, depending on the severity. An infraction is less severe and usually requires the offender to pay a fine. These offenses may include running a red light, a stop sign violation, and most speeding tickets.

A violation is a more severe offense and may be regarded as a misdemeanor or a felony. Traffic violations include driving under the influence (DUI), reckless driving, failure to wear a seatbelt while driving, vehicular homicide, etc. Depending on the offense, under the Illinois Vehicle Code, offenders may pay fines, complete jail terms, or both.

What Are Felony Traffic Violations In Illinois?

A felony traffic violation in Illinois is generally more serious than any other traffic violation or infraction. Typically, a traffic offense is considered a felony when the offense causes serious physical injury to a person or a group of persons, or when some financial damage is incurred.

The penalty for an Illinois traffic felony depends on the specific violation and the facts of the incident. Usually, felonies carry a jail term of at least one year. According to Illinois’ General Sentencing Provisions, these felonies are categorized into five different classes, including:

  • Class X Felony: This is the most severe type of felony and carries a jail term of six to 30 years, or up to $25,000 in fines, or both
  • Class 1 Felony: This carries a jail term of four to 15 years or up to $25,000 in fines or both
  • Class 2 Felony: This is punishable by up to $25,000 in fines, or between three and seven years, or both
  • Class 3 Felony: This carries up to $25,000 in fines, or a prison sentence of two to five years, or both
  • Class 4 Felony: This is the least serious felony class in Illinois and carries a sentence of at least one year, or up to $25,000 in fines, or both.

The specific fine or jail term varies based on the circumstance, and whether or not the accused person is a repeat offender.

Examples Of Felony Traffic Violations In Illinois

  • Vehicular Homicide or Manslaughter: An offender may be charged even if there was no intent.
  • Repeat DUI: DUI first offender who fled the scene without causing a crash or injuries may not be charged for a felony. However, repeat DUI offenses are classified as a felony.
  • Hit and Run: Illinois considers a hit-and-run as a felony. Authorities may assume that the offender is deliberately complicit if the person fled the scene without checking for injury or damage.

What Are Traffic Misdemeanors In Illinois?

Illinois traffic misdemeanors are violations that are typically less serious than felonies, but more severe than traffic infractions. Like felonies, traffic misdemeanors carry varying penalties in jail terms or fines depending on the severity of the offense. In Illinois, many initial traffic offenses are treated as misdemeanors. However, repeat offenses may be treated as felonies. Generally, Illinois traffic misdemeanors carry a maximum jail term of 364 days, a maximum fine of $2,500, or both.

Illinois misdemeanors are categorized into three classes, depending on the severity and facts of the case. These classes include:

  • Class A: This is the most severe type of misdemeanor. It carries up to 364 days in prison or up to $2,500 in fines, or both.
  • Class B: This is a less serious misdemeanor and carries a maximum sentence of six months, or up to $1,500 in fines, or both.
  • Class C: This is the least serious type of misdemeanor and carries a maximum fine of $1,000 or a jail term of up to 30 days, or both.

Examples Of Traffic Misdemeanors In Illinois

  • DUI—Driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol could be a misdemeanor if the person is not a repeat offender, there was no death, injury, crash, or damage, and the offender did not flee the scene.
  • Driving over the speed limit: Driving over 26 miles per hour (mph), but less than 35 mph is a Class B misdemeanor. If speed is over the limit by 35 mph, the offense is a Class A misdemeanor.
  • Driving with a revoked or suspended license: If the license has expired for more than a year, the offense is a Class B misdemeanor
  • Reckless driving
  • Deliberately destroying or removing a traffic sign

What Constitutes A Traffic Infraction In Illinois?

An Illinois traffic infraction is a minor offense - mostly an ordinance violation - that is less serious than a traffic misdemeanor or felony. A traffic infraction is punishable by paying varying fees depending on the kind of offense. These fines could be as low as $1 but no more than $1,000.

In addition to fines, persons may also have demerit points on driving records. However, offenders may avoid the fine and demerit points in some cases, by completing a traffic school program. This type of offense does not affect a person’s driving record and does not result in a jail term.

For many of these infractions, the offender may receive an order of supervision if they have a good driving record. If the person satisfies the order, the case may be wholly dismissed without any demerit points added to the person’s driving record. However, this does not happen all the time.

Examples Of Traffic Infractions In Illinois

  • Unauthorized parking
  • Speeding
  • Driving without valid insurance or registration documents
  • Cracked windshield
  • Damaged lights
  • Running a red traffic light
  • Stop sign violation
  • Failure to properly switch lanes
  • Driving without wearing a seat belt

How Does A Traffic Ticket Work In Illinois?

A traffic ticket is a notice issued to a traffic offender, which contains details about the traffic offense allegedly committed and any fines incurred. A traffic ticket may either be issued by a law enforcement official or by an electronic device, as is possible when a person runs a red light.

A traffic ticket is not always absolute and may be dismissed even if the offender did commit the offense. A traffic ticket may be dismissed if:

  • The ticket contains false information about the incident. If the ticket carries a different date or car color, the ticket could be rendered invalid.
  • The offender can prove that there was a problem with the device that recorded the offense. For example, the ticket could be dismissed if the camera that captured a red light violation malfunctioned, capturing an image earlier or later than it should have.
  • The car was stolen at the time that the offense happened. This may require the accused person to provide a police report declaring the car missing.

Generally, traffic violations are either moving or non-moving violations. A moving violation is an offense committed by a driver while in control of a vehicle in motion. These include speeding, failure to use turn signals, driving under the influence of drugs or alcohol, and disobeying traffic lights or signs.

A non-moving violation may not require that a car is not in motion. These violations are usually specific to offenses directly involving the vehicle. Examples of non-moving violations include a broken tail light, parking in a handicapped or otherwise illegal zone, expired vehicle documents, and unregistered vehicles.

Typically, Illinois moving violations are considered more serious than non-moving violations. The State of Illinois may suspend an offender’s license if the person has had three moving violations within 12 months.

In Illinois, demerit points are mostly awarded to offenders that commit speeding violations, depending on how fast the offender was speeding. Points are awarded as follows if the offender passes the speed limit by:

  • 11 to 14 miles per hour—15 points
  • 15 to 25 miles per hour—20 points
  • More than 25 miles per hour—50 points

Under the Illinois Administrative Code 1040.30(b), the points on a driving record may result in a suspension, depending on the offender’s previous record. The following apply if the offender has had no suspensions or revocations for seven years before the current conviction:

  • 0 through 14 points = No action
  • 15 through 44 points = 2-month suspension
  • 45 through 74 points = 3-month suspension
  • 75 through 89 points = 6-month suspension
  • 90 through 99 points = 9-month suspension
  • 100 through 109 = 12-month suspension
  • 110 or more = revocation

If the offender has had one suspension or revocation within seven years of the current conviction, the following applies:

  • 0 through 14 points = No action
  • 15 through 44 points = 4-month suspension
  • 45 through 74 points = 6-month suspension
  • 75 through 109 points = 12-month suspension
  • 110 or more = Revocation

If the offender has a current suspension for an unsatisfied judgment or financial/safety responsibility, and at least one conviction was entered after any of the suspensions, the following apply:

  • 0 through 14 points = No action
  • 15 through 109 = 12-month suspension
  • 110 or more = Revocation

Are Driving Records Public In Illinois?

Following the Illinois Freedom of Information Act (FOIA), the general public may access the state’s driving records. However, only the persons named on the records and their immediate family members may access personal identifying information about the persons named on the records. Restricted details include personal information such as the person’s phone number or address. The public may only access crash information, withdrawals, and convictions.

Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. Operating independently of any state agency, 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 Traffic/Driving Records In Illinois?

Illinois driving records are accessible from the Office of the Secretary of State’s Driver Services Department. The Secretary of State maintains these records and keeps details of all suspensions or revocations in the state.

Generally, traffic tickets that end in either revocation or suspension remain on an offender’s driving record for at least seven years from the day the person’s license is reinstated. Other serious offenses, such as a DUI, may remain permanently on the offender’s driving record. The Secretary of State reserves the authority to remove or maintain any details.

Abstracts of Illinois driving records are available online, by mail, and in person. To obtain a driving record abstract online, use the Driving Record Abstract platform. This method is only valid for people requesting personal records. It costs $12 in addition to a payment processor fee. The acceptable mode of payment is debit or credit card from American Express, Visa, Discover, or MasterCard.

To request via mail, complete the Driving Record Abstract Request Form. Enclose a check or money order for $12, payable to the Secretary of State, with the completed form. Mail the request to:

Secretary of State
Driver Analysis Section
2701 Springfield Dirksen Parkway
Springfield, IL 62723

To request in person, drivers may need to visit a Driver Services Facility to complete the Driving Record Abstract Request Form. In-person requests cost $12 each, plus a $1 payment processing fee. Payments are accepted via Discover, American Express, MasterCard, or Visa credit or debit cards.

Where a third party makes a request, the Office of the Secretary of State generally informs the person named on the record. Driving records of persons under 18 years old may only be accessed by the person named on the record, or by a parent or legal guardian. The requestor must present notarized written permission from the subject of the record.

The complete driving record of a person who is at least 18 years old, is accessible by an immediate family member. However, the requestor must also provide notarized written permission from the person named on the record.

Can Traffic Violation And Infractions Be Expunged/Sealed In Illinois?

Illinois State law prohibits sealing or expunging traffic offenses, regardless of whether or not the offender was convicted or was given court supervision. However, under the state code ILCS 2630/5.2 some minor traffic infractions where an arrest may have been made without any charges may be sealed or expunged.

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