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What is the difference between criminal traffic and infraction traffic?

Spokane, WA |
Attorney answers 3


The main difference likely is that jail/prison time is a possible punishment for a criminal law violation where as infractions are not punishable by jail/prison time.

The standard of proof in a criminal law case is "beyond a reasonable doubt". The standard in an infraction case is a lower "by the preponderance of the evidence".

You should review your specific facts with your attorney to find out your legal options.


a criminal charge is one that has a potential penalty that includes jail time. An infraction is a charge where the only possible penalty is money. Traffic refers to the fact that whatever the charge, it involved driving in some way.
The most common criminal traffic charges are DUI and reckless driving. The most common traffic infraction is speeding.


A traffic infraction is a civil matter instead of a criminal matter. Some of the main differences are:

Jail can be imposed for a criminal offense, but not for a trafffic infraction.

A committed finding for an infraction is reported on your driving history, while a conviction for a criminal traffic offense goes on your criminal record and your driving history.

In a criminal case, you have a number of important constitutional rights including the the right to an attorney, the right to appeal and the right to a trial by jury. The standard of proof is "beyond a reasonable doubt." In a civil action, you have diminshed rights and the standard of proof is a "preponderance of the evidence" (which equates to somewhere around "probably").

The standards for admissibility of evidence are more relaxed in an infraction case than a criminal case.

You are not required to attend an infraction hearing, whereas a warrant will generally be issued for your arrest if you fail to attend your criminal hearing.

In some jurisdictons the prosecutor does not attend civil infraction hearings.

There are a number of other differences as well...

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