Archive for February, 2020

What Is a Petty Offense?

Friday, February 28th, 2020

What Is a Petty Offense?


As a driver, it is natural to worry about getting a ticket for a traffic violation. Tickets can be expensive, require you to go to court, and blemish your driving record. Typically, a ticket results from what is called a petty offense. Petty offenses are typically minor, non-criminal offenses, such as traffic violations.


Although petty offenses are not misdemeanors or felonies, there are still consequences associated with petty offenses that are important to know about. Below are some common petty offenses, and what you can expect if you receive a ticket for violation of these laws.



Types of Petty Offenses


There several kinds of petty offenses, mostly minor traffic violations, that can result in a citation.


  • Driving above the designated speed limit


  • Parking improperly. This includes parking in handicapped spaces or not having proper parking stickers to park in a specific parking lot


  • Running a red light. Failing to stop at a red light may get you pulled over by a police officer, or may result in you being mailed a ticket if there are cameras installed at the intersection.


  • Failing to stop or making an incomplete stop at a stop sign. Failing to stop at a stop sign, also known as “running a stop sign,” is considered a petty offense


  • Following a vehicle too closely is a traffic offense that can get you cited.


  • Improper lane change. This includes any unsafe lane change and failing to signal before changing lanes.


  • Failure to present proof of insurance or a valid driver’s license. If you do not have proof of insurance or your driver’s license on you when you are stopped, you will likely get a ticket. The ticket may be dismissed if you bring your proof of insurance or driver’s license to court. In some states, driving without a driver’s license (as opposed to a suspended or revoked license) constitutes a petty offense that will result in a citation.


  • Distracted driving. This includes texting, or any other type of distraction while driving.


  • Failure to yield. Failing to follow proper right-of-way rules in parking lots or on the road, or failing to yield to pedestrians.


What Happens After a Petty Offense?


If you are pulled over for a petty offense, you will usually be given a citation that includes a notice to appear in municipal court on a certain date. As with other offenses, you can enter a plea of guilty, no contest, or not guilty. If you plead guilty or no contest, you may receive a conviction of the offense on your record and you must pay a fine. You may also be given the option to take a defensive driving course and pay an additional fee in exchange for dismissal of the ticket.


If you plead not guilty, you will receive a court date to appear before the judge to present your case. Whenever you are going before a judge, you can hire a lawyer to represent you before the court. Unlike criminal offenses, there is no jury involved with petty offenses, and any guilt or punishment will be decided by a judge at the end of the trial.


Do I Have to Go to Court?


Many petty offenses will not actually require you to appear before a judge. You can usually settle your ticket by visiting the Justice of the Peace or municipal court, or by paying a fine online or over the phone. You may also be able to enter a plea of guilty or no contest with the court clerk, and sign paperwork and pay the required fine or agree to take a defensive driving course.


Failure to appear in court on the scheduled date or to pay the required fine before your court date will typically result in a bench warrant for your offense.


Possible Punishments for Petty Offenses


  • Conviction on your driving record. A conviction on your driving record can result in higher insurance premiums and as a “strike” against you.


  • Fines and court costs. All petty offenses are punishable by a fine, which can be up to a thousand dollars. In addition, late fees and court costs can add up.


  • Suspension of license. If you get too many traffic convictions within a certain timeframe, your license may be suspended.


Facing a Petty Offense or Traffic Ticket? TicketVoid Can Help!


If you have received a citation for a petty offense or have any questions about traffic violations, contact TicketVoid can help. TicketVoid is a free attorney match service available to help you in all traffic situations. Simply enter your ticket or case information into the free consultation form, and TicketVoid will match you with an attorney in your area to discuss your case and the best options for your individual situation.

Alcohol Breath Tests Plague with Accuracy Problems, New York Times Reports

Friday, February 21st, 2020

Alcohol Breath Tests Plague with Accuracy Problems, New York Times Reports

Breath tests to determine the alcohol content in a person’s blood system have been used since shortly after automobiles became available in the early 20th century. They have been relied on for decades to secure convictions in drunken driving cases, but results are now being called into question for their accuracy.

An investigative report in the New York Times claims many of those convictions are made using inaccurate and unreliable breath test results. Some judges are even beginning to question alcohol breath tests and are thousands of drunken driving convictions are being thrown out of court.

All Brands in Different States Producing Inaccurate Results

Alcohol breath testing devices are sensitive instruments that need to be properly calibrated by an experienced technician. Regardless of the brand or the state in which it was being used, the Times found tests being poorly maintained or improperly set up and alcohol breath tests were producing inaccurate results that were falsely identifying drunken driving violations. Some cities that use “home-brewed chemical solutions” or have safeguard features disabled can show even more inaccuracies.

The in-depth investigation included more than 100 interviews and a careful review of tens of thousands of related documents. The Times revealed widespread problems across the country that has received minimal attention.

Breath Tests Show Significant and Continued Anomalies

The most consequential part of being suspected of drunken driving is blowing into the “miniature science lab” administered at the scene or at the police station following your arrest. If the device shows an alcohol content level over the legal limit a conviction will soon follow.

The threshold for drunken driving in most states is 0.08 grams of alcohol per 100 millimeters of blood. The only completely effective way of determining the blood alcohol content is to draw blood from the person, which legally requires acquiring a warrant. Breath tests are an easier, if unreliable, alternative. Breath testing device contracts with police crime labs can be worth up to millions of dollars.

After a Pennsylvania judge questioned his state’s alcohol breath test results, prosecutors stopped using the tests in their cases. A Florida panel of judges said their state’s results showed “significant and continued anomalies.”

A 2007 analysis of the breath test device software revealed “thousands of programming errors,” according to a court report. The problem lies in the wide range of machine types and standards applied to these devices from state to state, community to community, which continue to rely on faulty or inaccurate results to convict drivers of drunken driving based on unreliable information.

Testing Continues Despite Inaccuracies

Despite the widespread reporting and ongoing inaccuracies throughout the country, drivers in all states are still being punished for refusing to take an alcohol breath test when ordered by an officer of the law.

The legal system still relies heavily on the results from these testing devices and procedures, meaning drivers are being wrongfully convicted of drunken driving based on unreliable test results. In turn, cases with flawed results are being dismissed, with possible drunk drivers let go without consequences to do it again.


Can I Get a Credit Card After I File for Bankruptcy?

Friday, February 14th, 2020

Can I Get a Credit Card After I File for Bankruptcy?

The process of filing for bankruptcy is a stressful, demoralizing experience that can wipe out your assets and obliterate your credit score. Rebuilding your financial status after bankruptcy can take years. It can be challenging to get a credit card after bankruptcy, but it is possible and you do not have to wait until your credit has been fully restored.

How Does Bankruptcy Affect My Credit?

While going through the bankruptcy process it will be tough for you to get approved for credit. Not all bankruptcies are the same, however, and exactly how and how long your credit will be affected depends at least in part on what kind of bankruptcy was filed.

Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Filing Chapter 7 bankruptcy is a last resort to help reset your finances when you lose the means to pay monthly bills and expenses, clearing away unsecured debts, such as credit cards. When you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, the process of liquidating all of your assets to pay back creditors can take up to six months.

Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

In chapter 13 bankruptcy, a repayment plan can be set up if you have enough income to keep with the payments. Your assets are not liquidated and repayment plans are typically set up to last three to five years.

Your credit score will be affected by either form of bankruptcy. Chapter 7 bankruptcies stay on credit reports for 10 years and Chapter 13 for seven years.

Can I Get a Credit Card After I File for Bankruptcy?

You would think that credit card issuers would stay away from anyone who has filed for bankruptcy. The fact is that after filing, most people get inundated with credit card offers, as some banks and lending institutions will actually seek out those who have gone through bankruptcy.

Whenever signing up for a credit card, it is crucial to read the fine print to know exactly what you are getting into. This is even more important after a bankruptcy, as these finance companies will offer credit cards with high-interest rates and exceptionally high fees to go with it. Trying to find a card without annual or any other unnecessary fees will be challenging, but they are available.

The most important thing to consider when applying for a credit card is to make sure you can afford to pay off the balance every month to avoid interest charges and head down another dangerous financial path.

If at all possible, it is recommended that those fresh out of bankruptcy hold off on taking on a credit card or any other type of revolving credit. Take the time to rebuild your credit and get your financial life in order before venturing out into the credit world again. There are a number of lower-cost options to traditional credit cards to get you back on your feet.

How Long Will It Take to Rebuild My Credit After Bankruptcy?

The journey back from bankruptcy to building good credit takes time, patience, and adjusting the types of behavior that led you to this point in the first place. As simple as it may seem, just paying your monthly bills on time every month is a surprisingly easy way to build up your credit.

Setting up and following a strict budget based on your income and expenses is essential to changing the way you approach your finances. A budget will help you keep track of exactly where you stand and help you to develop better spending habits over time as your credit is restored.

Should I Apply for a Credit Card After Bankruptcy?

The financial residue left in the wake of bankruptcy will take years to completely remove, but the impact on your life will begin to fade over time. Paying your bills on time and sticking to your budget will result in a gradual improvement of your credit.

People file for bankruptcy every day. It is not a pleasant experience, but the process is there help those who fall into financial problems after the loss of a job, a medical emergency, or a wide range of other personal issues that put you in a bad place. If you realize it is a temporary state and follow the necessary steps, your credit will be restored before you know it.