In many jurisdictions, most traffic tickets can be processed simply as infractions and thereby entirely removed from the criminal court process. The offender, in these cases, is not subject to jail-time or excessive fines, but also loses his/her right to an attorney and a jury-trial. It should be noted that fines for speeding tickets, when they are based on the rate of excess speed, can grow to be quite large. This method of processing is beneficial because of its speed and efficiency; however, it in no way mitigates the negative consequences of a conviction. That is to say, if the offense is serious or recurring, driving privileges may be curtailed and auto insurance rates will likely be increased.
Driving infractions that are misdemeanors or felonies (usually involving injury or damage to property) can be quite serious. In these cases, the criminal defendant always has a right to an attorney and a jury-trial, as well as any other constitutional protections and the process of the court.