What is the difference between a citation and a traffic ticket in the US?

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The police in the United States can stop you while driving, usually to fine you for committing a traffic violation or for safety. However, you have to pay attention to the language with which they address you, since even if it seems the same, it can be different things.

Some they might say they are issuing you a speeding ticket, while others call it a citation.

What is the difference between citation and traffic ticket?

Even though they sound totally different from each other, a traffic ticket and a citation are the same thing.

The term subpoena is proper legal jargonwhile traffic ticket is more informal. However, both terms refer to a written document issued by the police that describes the traffic rules you broke and possibly what you need to do to correct the situation. Automatic citations help prevent most drivers from violating traffic laws. However, not all traffic tickets are created equal.

Types of traffic tickets.

1.- Violation without movement

Drivers typically receive citations for two main causes of violations. They are non-moving and moving violations. A parking ticket is the most common reason for a non-moving violation. The police will issue you a ticket if you park your car in a restricted or unauthorized area, such as a one-way street.

2.- Moving offense

Traffic offenses are much more diverse, an example is ignoring traffic lights and traffic signals. As a result of traffic violations, the police could cite you for something like running a red light.

The severity of the consequences varies depending on local and state laws, ignoring traffic signs puts other motorists and pedestrians at risk. Therefore, the punishment included in the fine or citation will likely be quite severe.

On the other hand, you can also get a speeding ticket and as the name suggests, these citations are for driving the car over the speed limit. The severity of the violation generally depends on the difference between the speed limit and your cruising speed.

Finally, one of the most serious traffic rules that people break is driving under the influence of alcohol or other substances. If you receive a DUI ticket, you may have to pay a hefty fine. Also, your license could be suspended and you could end up in jail.


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