Most traffic violations are designated as either moving or non-moving violations. This designation goes beyond just the rotation of tires and can impact how a traffic conviction affects the driver's insurance, license, and driving record.
This article explains how violations are categorized and how these categories are treated differently.
Generally, traffic violations that involve a moving vehicle (which is the majority) are considered moving violations. But a traffic violation can also be designated as a moving violation based on its severity. Common moving violations include:
States are not entirely consistent in categorizing moving and non-moving violations. But these violations listed above are generally in the moving-violation category.
Non-moving violations are generally less serious offenses than are moving violations and sometimes don't involve a moving vehicle. While the specific categorizations vary between states, non-moving violations often include:
However, there are also a number of violations that are moving violations in some states and non-moving violations in other states. Some of the more common examples of offenses that fall into this category are:
Some states also classify speeding tickets where the driver exceeds the speed limit by only a small amount (such as ten miles per hour or less over the limit) as nonmoving violations.
We've covered the types of offenses that are categorized as moving and non-moving violations. But why does it matter? Basically, it comes down to penalties and other consequences that can result from each type of violation.
Traffic tickets—whether for moving or non-moving violations—typically carry fines. The categorization of moving versus non-moving doesn't directly affect fine amounts. However, non-moving violations tend to be less serious offenses than moving violations. So you can generally expect the fine amounts to be lower for non-moving violations than they are for moving violations.
Most states have traffic violation point systems. Drivers who accumulate too many points within a certain time period face consequences such as having to complete a driver's safety course and license suspension.
Generally, moving violations carry points, whereas non-moving violations do not.
The Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) keeps records on all licensed drivers in the state. A driver's record is separate from a criminal history record and is generally shared between state agencies but not open to the general public.
A moving violation will generally go on a driver's record. However, a conviction for a non-moving violation will almost assuredly not show up on the driver's record.
Insurance companies are generally permitted access to drivers' records so that they can adjust their policy costs. Insurance companies set premium rates, in part, based on a driver's record.
Drivers who have violations on their record can expect to pay higher rates than they would with a clean record.
In many states—including those that don't use point systems—drivers who get multiple moving violations within a certain amount of time face license-related penalties.
For example, in some states, a driver who gets three moving violations in a year is looking at the possibility of license suspension.