Traffic offenses are generally considered minor infractions, but there are actually four levels of offenses. Some levels can carry serious consequences and leave you with a criminal record.
According to the Minnesota House, the four offense levels range from a petty misdemeanor to a felony. Each level increases the severity of the charge and comes with stiffer penalties.
The lowest level offense is a petty misdemeanor. It is not a criminal charge, so there will be no impact on your criminal record. It can impact your driving record, though. You will not be subject to jail time, but you could face a fine of up to $300. Usually, you can simply pay the fine instead of having to go to court. Most traffic violations will fall into this category.
The next level is a misdemeanor. These may be payable offenses where you can pay the fine without having to go to court, but some also require you to go to a hearing. This type of offense can carry jail time up to 90 days. Fines can be as high as $1,000.
Gross misdemeanor or felony
The two highest levels are gross misdemeanors and felonies. These typically are not something a traffic court would handle. Your case would transfer to a criminal court because these are serious criminal offenses. Acts such as vehicular homicide would fall into these categories. Penalties are wide-ranging and include prison and fines. Most traffic offenses will not fall into these categories.
When you receive a citation, you will usually know whether it is minor or serious. Minor offenses usually result in a ticket, but the more serious offenses will end in an arrest.