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Serious Traffic Offenses

Traffic tickets are very common, and most drivers have gotten one or more for speeding or rolling through a stop sign. You go take care of it at municipal court, and maybe wind up paying a little more for auto insurance.

However, it’s possible to get in very serious trouble while driving. Some traffic offenses can lead to dramatically higher fines, and even jail time. While you may feel comfortable representing yourself on a speeding ticket, these serious traffic offenses carry significant consequences.

Traffic Crime Attorney in Des Moines, Iowa

If you are facing a traffic charge with serious implications, you do not want to show up in court by yourself and hope for the best. You can have a skilled Des Moines serious traffic offense lawyer representing you. Our criminal defense attorneys at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. will treat your traffic charges with the gravity they deserve. We will fight the charges and seek the have them reduced or dismissed.

We represent clients facing serious traffic charges throughout the Des Moines area, including in West Des Moines, Ankeny, Urbandale, Johnston or anywhere in Polk County, Dallas County or the state of Iowa.

Call us today at (515) 279-9700 to schedule a free consultation.


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Types of Serious Traffic Offenses in Iowa

Most traffic offenses do not rise to the level of a criminal offense. Speeding, running a stop light and failure to signal a lane change are mere infractions.

Other traffic offenses, however, can lead to hefty fines and even time in jail. Some common criminal traffic offenses include:

Reckless Driving (Iowa Code 321.277): Reckless driving means driving with a “willful and wanton” disregard for the lives and safety of others. No one needs to be actually injured for prosecutors to successfully press reckless driving charges. Driving far above the speed limit, changing lanes quickly and other dangerous driving may lead to reckless driving charges. It is a simple misdemeanor, with punishments ranging up to 30 days in a jail and a fine ranging from $65 to $625.

Drag Racing (Iowa Code 321.278): Drag racing means using a public road or highway to race in a contest or exhibit speed. It is illegal to both be a drag racer and to in any way aid or abet drag racing. Motor vehicle speed contest or exhibition of speed are defined as one or more persons competing in speed in excess of the applicable speed limit in vehicles on the public streets or highways.The crime of drag racing is a simple misdemeanor that may lead to up to 30 days in jail and a fine from $65 to $625. More serious charges can be brought if anyone is injured as a result of the drag racing. 

Eluding or Attempting to Elude Pursuing Law Enforcement Vehicle (Iowa Code 321.279): It is a serious misdemeanor, with penalties of up to a year in prison and fines from $315 to $1,875, to flee or elude or attempt to flee or elude a police officer. This charge is defined as willfully failing to stop one the police officer turns his or her flashing lights on and/or sounds the siren.

The charges will increase to an aggravated misdemeanor, with penalties of up to two years in prison and fine from $625 to $6,250, if accused of fleeing and, in the process, going more than 25 miles per hour above the speed limit. If intoxicated, fleeing after committing a felony or if serious injury results to a person other than the driver, the charges go up to a Class D felony, punishable by up to five years in prison and a fine from $1,000 to $10,000.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident: Whenever you get an accident, regardless of whether or not you are at fault, you are supposed to stop and check to see who was involved. If no one was injured, you are supposed to exchange information. If someone was injured, you are supposed to make any reasonable effort to arrange for transportation to a medical facility or take the person there yourself.

However, if you drive off and do not give information, often called a “hit and run,” you could face criminal penalties. If there was only damage to the other vehicle, it is a simple misdemeanor, with punishments ranging to up to 30 days in jail and a fine from $65 to $625.

If there was an injury, then it is a serious misdemeanor and can result in up to a year in jail and a fine from $315 to $1,875. If the injury was serious, it is an aggravated misdemeanor with up to a two-year sentence and a fine from $625 to $6.250. If a person died, then it is a Class D felony. You could spend up to five years in prison and pay a fine from $1,000 to $10,000.


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Defenses to Serious Traffic Charges in Polk County

A serious traffic accusation is like any other criminal charge in that the prosecution must prove all elements of the offense beyond a reasonable doubt. Your Des Moines criminal defense lawyer can show the holes in the prosecutor’s case and seek to have illegally obtained evidence suppressed.

Prosecutors must prove intent in all these charges. Your lawyer can argue, in a hit and run, that you were dazed after the accident and left without realizing what was happening, for instance. Many charges are based solely on the judgment of the police officer, who your attorney can vigorously cross-examine.


Additional Resources

Traffic Unit of the Des Moines Police Department - The Traffic Unit of the Des Moines Police Department conducts investigations for serious traffic accidents, hit and run investigations, and the detention of drunk and/or impaired drivers. The traffic unit of the police department in Des Moines, Iowa, is exclusively responsible for the investigation of all serious and fatal motor vehicle accidents that occur within the city. Officers within the Traffic Unit of the Des Moines Police Department receive training to conduct crash investigations to become Advanced Investigators or Accident Reconstructionists. 


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Attorneys for Traffic Crimes in Polk County, Iowa

If you face accusations of a serious traffic offense, you should take them very seriously. The experienced Des Moines serious traffic offense lawyers at McCarthy & Hamrock, P.C. will fight for you. We can call into question the prosecution’s evidence and seek to have your charges reduced or dismissed.

Call us today at (515) 279-9700 for a free consultation.


This article was last updated on Friday, July 7, 2017.

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