People often wonder if they should hire an attorney to help them fight a traffic infraction. In order to determine whether you should hire an attorney to help you, it is important to do a cost benefit analysis in order to determine if it is worth the money. Remember, that whether you are convicted of a relatively minor traffic offense like speeding or a more serious offense such as drunk driving, the financial cost to you will be much greater than the ticket price. Likely, a conviction will cause your car insurance to increase and if an accident occurred because of your actions, you may need to pay for injuries and property damage incurred by other.
Given the potential consequences of a ticket, it is often financially beneficial to hire an attorney. It is especially important to hire an attorney if you are ticketed for driving under the influence (DUI, DWI), driving with a suspended license or causing an accident. It is also important to hire an attorney for some routine tickets such as speeding, particularly if this is not your first offense.
What Happens After a Ticket is Issued
The legal procedures that are followed vary from state to state. Depending on the reason for the ticket and the jurisdiction, the person to whom the ticket was issued may have the chance to assert a defense by mail. If that defense is rejected then the person will likely need to go to court. For a simple speeding ticket this is often a quick appearance, although it can have serious consequences. For more serious charges such as drunk driving or driving with a suspended license the court appearance may be more involved. Traffic court cases are most often heard before a magistrate or state traffic court judge and not a jury. Appeal processes vary from state to state and may include the right to appeal to the state trial court.
The penalties for any traffic ticket can be serious. Of course, more serious violations and repeat offenders typically receive harsher sentences. However, everyone who receives a ticket should be aware of the following potential penalties:
- Fines: If you plead guilty to or are found guilty of the offense for which you were ticketed you will likely have to pay a fine.
- “Points” on your license: points are kind of like strikes against you. When you receive a certain number of points you are “out” of the driving game because your license will be suspended.
- Suspended license: When you reach the maximum number of license points allowed by state or law or if you commit a first offense that is serious in nature you may lose your driving privileges either temporarily or permanently.
- Increase in Car insurance Premiums: Your car insurance premiums will likely increase every time you plead guilty or are found guilty of a traffic violation.
Traffic tickets carry with them the potential for serious penalties. Therefore, it often cost efficient to hire an attorney to handle your initial claim rather than deal with the possible penalties for being found guilty of a traffic offense.
The information on this page is meant to provide a general overview of the law. The laws in your state and/or city may deviate significantly from those described here. If you have specific questions related to your situation you should speak with a local attorney.