Many people associate traffic violations with small punishments like having to pay fines or take a safe driving course. However, Georgia has traffic offenses on the books that result in more serious punishments. Some traffic violations reach the level of a misdemeanor or even a felony, which can send a person to jail for one or more years.
DUI violations are well known to the public as traffic offenses that can result in harsh penalties. Still, a Georgia driver may face a serious traffic charge that does not involve the use of alcohol. These charges often involve endangering the lives of others while using a vehicle.
Like many states, Georgia singles out reckless driving as a serious offense. The state defines a reckless driver as somebody who drives without regard for the safety of other people or the sanctity of property. A reckless driving offense is a misdemeanor charge in Georgia. A person convicted of reckless driving may have to pay a $1,000 fine and serve jail time that could last up to a year.
Causing injury or death
Reckless driving can result in serious injury or even death to other parties, such as another driver, vehicle passengers or pedestrians. Georgia defines both homicide by vehicle and serious injury by vehicle as felony offenses. A driver who injures another human being with a vehicle may go to prison for as long as 15 years. Prison sentences for homicide by vehicle may go even higher depending on the severity of the case.
Fleeing from police
State law also forbids a motorist from trying to escape from police if an officer signals the motorist to stop. A failure to heed a police officer may result in a high and aggravated misdemeanor, but a driver could easily incur a felony charge under certain circumstances, such as:
- Driving 20 miles above the speed limit
- Fleeing in traffic conditions that place the general public at serious risk of injury
- Striking a vehicle or a pedestrian
- Leaving the state
- Fleeing while under the influence of drugs or alcohol
Many of the offenses that can increase the charge of fleeing the police to a felony level are themselves serious offenses. This reinforces the fact that committing multiple traffic violations may result in a serious deprivation of freedom with a jail sentence that could last for a long time.