Many legal terms are ambiguous and confusing, so it's always nice to come across a few that are self-explanatory. Moving and non-moving violations seem to be among the easy-to-understand crowd. If you get a ticket for speeding, it is obviously a moving violation, for moving a little faster than the law allowed. If you get a parking ticket, it is a non-moving violation. But the distinction is not always quite that easy.
TL;DR (Too Long; Didn't Read)
Non-moving violations are tickets you get when the car is stationary, like parking tickets. They can also be tickets you get whether your car is moving or not for matters that do not relate to your driving behavior, like failure to have a rear license plate.
Moving vs. Non-moving Violations
If you get a moving violation, it's always for driving choices that break traffic laws. The quintessential example of a moving violation is a speeding ticket, but making an illegal left turn, texting while driving and passing in a no-pass area of the highway trigger moving violations too if a police officer catches you. The person who gets the moving violation is always the driver of a car regardless of who owns the vehicle.
Non-moving violations are usually handed out for actions you take or don't take when the car is stationary. A typical example is a parking ticket, like a ticket for parking in a bus stop area, or not feeding your meter. But police officers can also issue non-moving violations for equipment violations, like failure to have a back bumper, and paperwork violations, like failure to have an up-to-date registration. The owner of a car always is responsible for a non-moving violation.
The Range of Non-Moving Violations
State laws vary about the type of equipment a vehicle must have to be street legal. For example, some states make it illegal to have a car without a front license plate. Others may have rules about how many inches a bumper must extend over the chassis of the car. Almost all require working brake lights, signal lights and side mirrors. In California, license plates must be made with paint that will reflect in the cameras on stop lights.
If your car is issued a ticket for a defect in equipment, or some kind of a parking ticket, you get a ticket on the car (for parking tickets) or handed to you. As long as you pay the set fine for the violation by the deadline, you won't have to go to court. If you don't pay, you may have trouble registering the car the following year. You'll have to pay the tickets first, plus big fines.
Consequences of Non-Moving Violations
Non-moving violations will not up your insurance rates. That's because insurance companies worry about risk. While moving violations mean that a driver has a higher risk of being in an accident, non-moving violations do not. Drivers who speed, make illegal U-turns or text while driving are more likely to have collisions than those who do not. The fact that individuals might forget to put money in a meter does not impact their risk as a driver. Therefore, non-moving violations do not increase insurance rates.
Does a non-moving violation go on your record? In some states it does, in some it doesn't. You should check with the DMV in your state. In many states, including Ohio and Nevada, it does not go on your record. In Texas as well as California, you get points on your record for each moving violation but none for non-moving violations.
Florida is an example of a state that includes non-moving violations on an individual's record. Non-moving violations do not result in points on your license in Florida. However, they will usually appear on your driving record since they are adjudicated. Most non-moving violations stay on your record in Florida for three to five years.
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