It’s an exciting rite of passage for many teenagers to get their first temporary driving permit or driver’s license. A driver’s license represents the first taste of adulthood and freedom for many teens. A driver’s license often opens a pathway for a first job or for dating without a parent or older sibling as a chaperon.
However, sometimes the sense of liberty that comes along with getting a driver’s license can combine with a lack of road experience to result in traffic infractions. A teenager might step on the gas a little too hard, or forget to signal a turn. Before the teen knows it, he or she is being pulled over and issued a ticket or perhaps a more serious traffic citation. Common traffic offenses committed by juveniles in Ohio include:
- Failure to stop at a stop sign
- Failure to obey a traffic control device, or running a red light
- Failure to stop for a school bus or emergency vehicle
- Failure to yield
- Tailgating, or failure to maintain an assured clear distance ahead
- Failure to control, also known as a physical control violation
- Failure to signal a turn or lane change
- Texting while driving
In Ohio, when a minor under 18 commits a traffic violation it’s handled a little differently than when an adult commits a violation. In particular, there’s a different process when a juvenile gets multiple tickets or violations and is labeled a juvenile traffic offender. Where an adult may just pay a fine and have a couple of points added to his or her license, a juvenile who commits a traffic violation may experience more serious consequences, including restriction or suspension of his or her license.
It’s also important to understand that unlike an adult who gets a traffic ticket, a juvenile can’t simply pay the ticket and move on. When a minor under 18 gets a traffic ticket, the juvenile and a parent or guardian must go to juvenile court for a hearing and disposition.
Because a juvenile must attend a hearing even for a minor traffic infraction, it’s beneficial to have the help of an experienced Ohio juvenile defense lawyer. A good juvenile lawyer will understand how local courts handle juvenile traffic violations, what to expect in court, and the possible outcomes your teen faces. A lawyer can be an advocate for your teen and work to get the juvenile an outcome that protects his or her future.
Ohio Process for Juvenile Traffic Offenses
When a juvenile is suspected of a traffic violation, the matter is heard in an Ohio juvenile court. In Cincinnati, juvenile traffic offenses are considered in the Hamilton County Juvenile Court. The court sets a hearing on the traffic matter, which the juvenile and a parent or guardian must attend.
At the hearing, the juvenile must enter a plea to the traffic offense. Juveniles cannot plead “no contest” to a traffic charge as an adult could. Instead, a juvenile must either admit or deny the charge.
If the juvenile denies the charge, the court will schedule the case for trial. At a trial, the court hears evidence and then makes a determination whether to adjudicate the juvenile as a “Juvenile Traffic Offender.”
If the juvenile admits the charge or is adjudicated a Juvenile Traffic Offender at a trial, then the court determines the disposition, or outcome, of the case.
Penalties for Juvenile Traffic Offenses
When a juvenile is found to be a Juvenile Traffic Offender, a court may impose fines and other consequences. Fines vary depending on what level of offense the charge would be if committed by an adult. For example, a traffic offense that would be a minor misdemeanor with a $150 fine for an adult can carry a fine of up to $50 for a juvenile. A juvenile also may be ordered to pay court costs associated with the violation.
In addition to fines and costs, a determination that a teen is a Juvenile Traffic Offender can have other consequences. Those may include:
- Suspension of the teen’s driver’s license or temporary instruction permit
- The juvenile may become ineligible to obtain a temporary instruction permit
- Suspension of any vehicle registration in the juvenile’s name
- Probation or community supervision
- An order to pay restitution to any victims of the offense
An experienced Cincinnati juvenile defense attorney can explain the potential outcomes and consequences for juvenile traffic matters in Hamilton County, and how your child’s case might be handled in a local court.
Defending Cincinnati Juvenile Traffic Offenses
A driver’s license isn’t just representative of a teenager’s freedom and burgeoning adulthood. A driver’s license also can be critical to a minor’s ability to get a job or attend classes or extracurricular activities. Loss of a teen’s driver’s license can be a serious consequence of an Ohio juvenile traffic offense.
If you are a juvenile charged with a traffic offense, or the parent or guardian of a juvenile, a skilled Cincinnati juvenile defense lawyer can help with your case. A good juvenile lawyer understands that young people sometimes make mistakes, and that those mistakes shouldn’t affect their ability to grow into productive and prosperous adults. A lawyer can be a compassionate advocate for a teen charged with a juvenile traffic violations and work to ensure that a traffic charge doesn’t have a long-term effect on the juvenile’s life.