Traffic tickets happen to everyone. Even the best and most cautious drivers have gotten at least one ticket. What did you do when you got your first ticket? If you’re like any of the millions ticketed each year, you probably just paid the fine and called it a day.
What if there was a better way to handle a traffic ticket? Have you ever considered hiring a traffic ticket lawyer? A lawyer might be able to reduce the penalty and get you out of the ticket. Also, a traffic ticket lawyer isn’t that expensive. In many situations, hiring a lawyer to fight your ticket is inexpensive compared to the fines and increased insurance premiums that you might be facing.
In this article, we’re going to teach you some general information about traffic ticket law. This information will help when you meet with a traffic ticket lawyer at an initial consultation. We’re also going to explain different ways that a traffic ticket lawyer might be able to help your situation. Finally, at the end of the article, we link to our guide which lays out the specific steps to take on how to get a lawyer.
General Information On Traffic Ticket Law
Before we go further, you need to know that the information in this section is only general information about traffic ticket law. It is not legal advice, and it is not even specific advice. Instead, it is general information to prepare for your meeting with a traffic ticket lawyer. At the meeting, the lawyer can accurately advise you on how traffic ticket law applies to the facts of your specific situation.
The very first thing you should do before picking up the phone and calling a lawyer is to read the traffic ticket. The ticket should list the traffic violation that the police officer charged you with somewhere on the front of the ticket. So here is the question: were you charged on the ticket with the same thing the officer said when you were pulled over? It might be that you were pulled over for speeding but charged with a lesser offense or charged for something entirely different.
It is essential to figure out what the charge is before you think about hiring a lawyer. Why? Because some charges aren’t worth the fight.
Here are a few of the more common traffic violations which might appear on your ticket:
We’ve all gone over the speed limit. Maybe you were late for something important, or you might have been arguing with your spouse, or it could have been that you were having a bad day. Traffic tickets can happen to anyone.
Tickets Issued by a Police Officer
Usually, the police officer is lenient if this is your first offense or you weren’t going too much over the speed limit. A typical fine for something like this is relatively low and normally ranges between $50 to $100. But, the real cost of the ticket is much more because it will increase your insurance premiums and add points to your license. Keep on reading to find out how a lawyer possibly can eliminate the increase in your insurance premiums and points on your license.
If this isn’t your first traffic ticket, or you were going well above the posted limit, the fine is probably a lot higher. In many states, the penalty could be as high as $500 or more! Also, insurance companies look closely at these types of violations, and you could see a significant rate hike and a lot of points on your license. In these types of situations, you should strongly consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer to help with your ticket.
Tickets Issued by a Speed Camera
The most frustrating of all speeding tickets are tickets from speed cameras. Unlike a police officer, you can’t smile and explain your case to the officer. Instead, it’s a black or white issue. You were speeding, or you weren’t. If you were speeding… BAM! You get a ticket.
What can you do? Well, a traffic ticket lawyer in your state should be very experienced in dealing with these types of tickets. Your lawyer should know that there are a lot more ways to argue the ticket, especially if the court can’t prove that you were the one driving the car. If you get a speeding ticket from a speed camera, you should definitely consult with an attorney to review your options. You might be surprised at what you learn.
Failure to Stop or Obey Traffic Signals
Aside from speeding, the second most common ticket is one for failure to stop or failure to obey traffic signals.
In this category, not all offenses are created equal. The penalty usually comes down to what the officer chooses to do and also state laws. If you didn’t blow through a stop sign or traffic light, you might get off with a small fine or warning. But larger offenses carry higher penalties.
Failure to Wear a Seat Belt
The seat belt laws in each state are a little different. The only commonality between each state is that children must be restrained.
Seat Belts and Children
In every state, a child must be restrained in some type of seat. But there are a lot of variables that go into this rule depending on the state:
- At what age, height, weight can a child use a booster?
- At what age, height, weight can a child not use a booster?
- When can a child sit in the front seat?
- Can the car seat face forward or must it face backward?
- Can the car seat sit in the middle seat in the back or must it sit behind one of the front seats?
- Must the booster seat have back support?
These are all excellent questions, and the answer to these questions depends on the law of the state where you got the ticket. If you got a ticket for failure to restrain your child, then you might want to speak to a lawyer. The traffic ticket attorney can look at the state law and compare it to your ticket. It might be that the police officer was wrong about a point of the law and you can avoid the ticket.
Seat Belts and Everyone Else
Aside from children, there are many other ways that seat belt laws vary by state. You should ask your lawyer about the laws in your state. Here are some of the different ways they can change:
- Does anyone in the car have to wear a seat belt?
- Does only the driver need to wear a seat belt?
- Do only the people in the front seat need to wear a seat belt?
- Does everyone in the car need to wear a seat belt?
Texting While Driving
You know you shouldn’t do it, but it’s so easy to look down at your phone and read or send a text nowadays. However, texting while driving is dangerous and has very steep fines.
In most states, it’s illegal to text while driving. But there might be some wiggle room for a lawyer to argue you weren’t texting while driving. A traffic ticket lawyer can explain what it means in your state and apply the state’s law to your specific situation. In some states, just sending a text is illegal. In other states, sending and reading texts are illegal.
Another consideration a lawyer can examine is what constitutes a text? Is it using an SMS program to send or read a message? What about other apps, like Facebook Messenger, LINE, or WhatsApp? How about sharing a photo on Snapchat? Is that texting while driving? If we want to go to the extreme, how about using Google Maps to navigate or entering a phone number to call someone? Are those things texting while driving?
If you find yourself with a ticket for texting while driving, you should reach out to a lawyer for help. A lawyer in your state who has experience fighting traffic tickets will know all the relevant laws and driving rules. Your lawyer might have a lot of room to argue what you were doing wasn’t texting while driving.
There are many other categories for traffic tickets, but the last most common ticket is for reckless driving. It’s a catch-all for many different types of offenses that aren’t explicitly recited in the law of your state but are still arguably “bad things” that you shouldn’t be doing on the road, at least according to the government.
You should strongly consider hiring a lawyer if the police charge you with reckless driving. Even if you don’t think you can afford a lawyer, you should at least reach out to one that offers a free consultation. In the meeting, you can explain the facts about why you were charged and see what he or she says.
In other traffic offenses, like speeding, there is very little room for a lawyer to argue that you weren’t speeding. If the speed limit was 65 MPH and you were doing 100 MPH, the options for your lawyer fighting the ticket are limited. But with reckless driving, there is more room for a lawyer to argue to the judge that you weren’t driving recklessly. For these reasons, make sure to reach out to a lawyer and ask these things at a free consultation.
Consequences and Penalties
A ticket has not only fines but also other many other direct and indirect consequences.
Unless you find a way out of your ticket, you’re going to have to pay a fine. A typical ticket for speeding can range anywhere from $50 to $500 or more depending on the circumstances.
As for other tickets, for violations other than speeding, the fines change depending on the state. It could be that a penalty for texting while driving is $1,500 in one state and $500 in another state.
The best advice is to consult with a lawyer, especially one that offers free consultations. At the meeting, you can discuss the ticket and the one or more fines you have to pay. The lawyer might suggest ways to reduce the fine or even get out of the ticket, which can make the lawyer’s fee worth the investment.
In addition to a fine, almost every ticket dings you with a certain amount of points on your license. In many states, if you get around 24 points within two years, then your license is suspended. How long is the suspension? It depends. In some states, it could be as short as six months. In other states, the suspension could last as long as an entire year!
Impounding Your Vehicle
In some states, the police will impound your vehicle under certain circumstances. Here are a few of the examples on when a vehicle might be impounded:
- Not having a valid drivers license (no license, suspended, canceled, revoked, etc.)
- Driving while intoxicated (DUI)
- Stolen vehicle
- Too many unpaid tickets
- Existing outstanding warrants
Increased Insurance Rates
In addition to all the other things listed above, your insurance premiums will also increase. You might not see the increase right away, but at the next billing cycle, your rates will go up.
There are two possible ways to avoid the rate hike.
First, you could sign up with an insurance company that provides forgiveness if you have a good driving record. Some companies won’t raise your rates for the first ticket you have received in a while.
Second, you could opt for traffic school which could wipe away the ticket from your record. However, even though the ticket gets wiped away, you will still have to pay the fine.
Traffic school isn’t a penalty as much as it is a solution to points on your license and increased insurance rates. If you decide to fight your ticket, your lawyer can go to court and ask the judge to give you traffic school instead of the points. If the judge grants this request, your insurance rates won’t go up, and you don’t get any points on your license. But, you still have to pay the fine.
The course itself is roughly five to ten hours and takes you through the basics of traffic laws and rules. It might seem like a bore, but remember what you are getting out of the deal. Your record gets cleared of the ticket. Again, what this means is that you don’t get any points on your license or a rate hike.
Now, there are some restrictions to traffic school. A judge might not grant it without looking at the ticket and your prior record. If you were only going a few miles over the limit and your record is clean, the judge might grant the request. But when you were doing 100 in a 25, the option of traffic school becomes less likely.
Another stipulation in many states is how frequently you can attend traffic school. In some states, you have to wait 1-2 years before you can choose traffic school after having completed it once. What this means is that if you get a ticket before those 1-2 years are up, you probably can’t do traffic school again. What are the requirements in your state? You should ask a traffic ticket lawyer these types of questions at your consultation, and they can apply the law to your specific situation.
Should You Hire a Traffic Ticket Lawyer?
The answer to this question is not always yes. It can depend on several factors:
- How much will your insurance increase if the ticket is not dismissed?
- Is it possible for the lawyer to eliminate the points on your license?
- How much was the ticket and how much does the lawyer cost?
- Do you have to pay the lawyer if you don’t get the results you want?
You should investigate each of these questions, and ask the lawyer all relevant questions at the initial consultation. If you do this, then you will have a better chance of making the most informed decision for your situation.
How a Traffic Ticket Lawyer Can Help
If you haven’t figured it out yet, an attorney with experience in traffic ticket law might be able to help you out with your ticket. Here are a few of the additional ways that a lawyer can help you:
Save You Time
It can take hours in court waiting for your turn. Usually, there are several people ahead of you, and their cases can take hours. The worst is when you arrive in court, sit for a few hours, and then the day ends without reaching your turn. In these situations, the court can call you back for another appearance tomorrow, and it can happen all over again!
But if you hire a traffic ticket lawyer, you might not have to waste any time sitting in court. With your lawyer’s permission, you can stay at your job or house and have your lawyer go to court and argue on your behalf! Having your lawyer handle the court appearance will save you a lot of wasted time.
Experience Regarding Which Arguments Work
Did you know that it’s possible for your lawyer to get the fine reduced? It doesn’t happen all the time, but there are several arguments a lawyer can make in court depending on your specific situations. Here are some factors that might change how a lawyer argues your ticket:
- Past driving record
- Conditions at the time of the ticket
- Weather at the time of the ticket
- Mistakes on the ticket
A lawyer can also help analyze your prospects at trial. An experienced lawyer knows which tickets can be fought and will lead to an expensive court battle, and which tickets won’t. The city wants to make money from these tickets and not lose money. When the ticket can turn into a long drawn out court battle, the prosecutor might be more willing to cut a deal. Your lawyer should have the experience to see which tickets hold this potential and which don’t.
Insurance Rates and Fewer Points
If your lawyer wins at trial and gets your ticket dismissed, your insurance premiums won’t increase, and you won’t get any points on your license.
Also, your lawyer might know of lesser offenses that you can plead to instead of the charged offense. The fine will probably remain the same, but your lawyer will know if there are lesser offenses which the judge might accept that don’t carry any points.
DUI and Criminal Law
It would be wrong to think that the only thing a traffic ticket lawyer can do is fight traffic tickets for speeding and reckless driving. Many traffic ticket lawyers also have experience with DUI law and criminal law. If you are dealing with these types of charges, then hiring a lawyer is highly recommended.
Understanding the Law
A lawyer with experience in traffic ticket law knows when the court has to dismiss your ticket. The rules for dismissal depend on the law of the state where the ticket occurred. Some of these situations might be if the officer doesn’t show up in court, or when you agree to a probation period or other types of things. You probably won’t know what the rules are for your state unless you hire a lawyer.
A lawyer can help show the court and the judge that you mean business. If you show up in shorts and a t-shirt, the judge might not take you seriously. But when your lawyer shows up wearing a suit and tie, the judge should understand that you aren’t messing around.
How To Get A Traffic Ticket Lawyer
If you’ve come this far, then you should have enough general information about traffic ticket law to assist a lawyer in advising you about your specific situation. Also, you should have a general idea about how a traffic ticket lawyer can help your situation.
But before you start searching for a local traffic ticket lawyer, there is one more step you should take. We highly recommend reading our guide about how to get a lawyer. In the guide, you will learn many things about how to get a lawyer. Here is an example of what you will learn:
- How to find a lawyer experienced with traffic ticket law.
- How to research the lawyer’s background.
- Questions to ask before an initial consultation.
- Questions to ask during an initial consultation.
- Observations to record about the lawyer
- How to decide whether to hire the lawyer.
Once you read this guide, you should be prepared to hire a lawyer to help with your traffic ticket needs.