What Is the Difference Between a Citation and a Traffic Ticket?

There is no discernible difference between citations and traffic tickets. Both terms can be used interchangeably to describe the notice given to people who commit an infraction.

Most minor traffic violations are classified as infractions. Traffic violations do not involve jail time, and penalties are usually in the form of a fine. Violators can typically send a check through the mail or go to the courthouse and pay in person. While the easiest course of action is to simply pay the fine and resolve the case, fighting a ticket may be worth the time and expense in some circumstances, such as if accruing points would result in a license suspension or if the resulting conviction would result in higher insurance premiums, notes FindLaw.

An infraction is typically a minor crime where the law is broken in a non-violent way. More serious crimes are classified as misdemeanors or felony crimes. A citation or traffic ticket can be given for a wide variety of infractions committed while driving a vehicle. Some common traffic infractions are running a red light, having an expired license, or failure to completely stop at a stop sign. Infractions can be appealed or simply paid.

Although traffic violations are minor enough that they do not usually require legal representation, retaining an attorney is recommended in certain situations. People should consider hiring a lawyer for serious traffic offenses, such as leaving the scene of an accident, reckless driving and drunk driving, explains FindLaw.