Traffic cases range from petty misdemeanor payable citations to serious criminal charges which carry the potential for incarceration, fines, and/or probation. While some traffic cases are relatively minor, many are very serious, and any traffic case can potentially have significant consequences for your driving privileges and insurance.

Reckless Driving

Driving is reckless when it is done “in such a manner as to indicate either a willful or a wanton disregard for the safety of persons or property.” Racing is also reckless driving. Racing is defined as willfully comparing or contesting relative speeds by operating one or more vehicles. Reckless driving is a misdemeanor. The prohibition against reckless driving is found in Minnesota Statutes Section 169.13, subdivision 1.

Effective August 1, 2015, the reckless driving statute has been amended to provide: “A person who drives a motor vehicle while aware of and consciously disregarding a substantial and unjustifiable risk that the driving may result in harm to another or another’s property is guilty of reckless driving. The risk must be of such a nature and degree that disregard of it constitutes a significant deviation from the standard of conduct that a reasonable person would observe in the situation.”

Also effective August 1, 2015, the penalty for reckless driving is enhanced to a gross misdemeanor when the violation causes great bodily harm or death to another.

Careless Driving

It is a misdemeanor to operate or stop a vehicle “carelessly or heedlessly in disregard of the rights of others, or in a manner that endangers or is likely to endanger any property or any person.” The prohibition against careless driving is found in Minnesota Statutes Section 169.13, subdivision 2.

Driving After Suspension, Revocation, Cancellation, or Disqualification

It is generally a misdemeanor to drive a vehicle while your license is suspended, revoked, cancelled, or to drive a commercial vehicle while your commercial driving privileges are under disqualification. It is a gross misdemeanor to drive while your license is cancelled as inimical to public safety. While the prosecutor must prove that you were given notice or reasonably should have know that your license was suspended, revoked, cancelled, or disqualified, it is not necessary to prove that you actually knew your privileges were invalid. Notice is generally sufficient if it is mailed to the address on your license.

A conviction for any driving after withdrawal offense will result in a license suspension. The length of the suspension ranges from 30 days to one year, depending on the number of driving after withdrawal offenses in the past five years.

No Insurance or No Proof of Insurance

Both the driver and the owner of a vehicle are responsible for providing proof of insurance. Failure to provide proof of insurance is generally a misdemeanor, but can be a gross misdemeanor if a driver has a prior conviction for no proof of insurance. A conviction for no proof of insurance can generally be avoided by promptly providing proof that the vehicle was insured.

A conviction for no insurance or no proof of insurance will result in a license revocation. The revocation period can range from 30 days to a year, and you may be required to provide proof of insurance before your license will be reinstated.

Hit and Run

A driver who is involved in a collision which results in bodily injury, death, or damage to an attended vehicle must stop and share information, including the driver’s name, address, date of birth, and license plate number. The driver must also render reasonable aid to any person injured in the collision. A driver who is involved in a collision with an unattended vehicle or some other property must take reasonable steps to locate and notify the owner of the collision. Additionally, a driver involved in a collision which resulted in bodily injury or death must notify law enforcement. An accident report must be filed with the Commissioner of Public Safety if the collision involved bodily injury or death, total property damage of $1,000 or more, or damage to a fixture.

Depending on the circumstances, a hit and run can be a misdemeanor, gross misdemeanor, or a felony. A conviction for hit and run may result in a revocation of the driver’s license or disqualification of commercial driving privileges.

Frequently Asked Questions

Can I get an attorney for my traffic case?
Yes. You have the right to have any attorney represent you for a traffic case. However, if you are only charged with a petty misdemeanor, you do not have the right to a public defender.
Do I need an attorney for my traffic case?
Because traffic cases vary widely and each case is different, we recommend that you talk to one of our attorneys to discuss your specific case and your concerns. We can help you decide whether it is reasonable to try to handle the case yourself, or you need to enlist the services of a trained professional.

If you have been charged with a traffic offense, contact us today at 612-333-7309 to discuss your case.

If you are facing a criminal charge, you need professional, personal representation. Our team of attorneys will offer you Straight Talk and Honest Answers about your case.