Over 125,000 traffic tickets are issued in the US every day. Of those, only 5% are ever challenged. Most people who contest a traffic ticket choose to represent themselves in court as opposed to hiring a traffic attorney.
Representing yourself in court is almost never a good idea. Even for an issue as mundane as a traffic ticket. Read on to find out how a traffic ticket attorney can help you, and in which situations you may want to hire one.
Are Tickets That Bad?
Most of the time, traffic tickets are limited to a fine you need to pay. In some cases, a driver may get lucky and receive a “fix-it ticket.” These tickets require you to make a repair or address an issue with your vehicle, show the court (or police), and your ticket will be absolved.
In Virginia, you receive demerit points for poor driving and merit points for good driving. Every time you’re convicted of a traffic violation, demerit points will be assigned to your driving record. The more demerit points you receive, the more serious the consequences.
How Can a Traffic Attorney Help?
What your criminal defense attorney can do for you will depend on the specifics of your situation. However, there are a few basic benefits to hiring a traffic attorney.
They Can Go to Court for You
When you choose to fight a traffic ticket, you’ll usually have to go to court at least two times. Courts operate during normal business hours and, if you have a job, you’ll probably need to take time off. This can lead to lost wages in addition to the possibility of paying for your ticket.
Your traffic ticket attorney can represent you in court without you having to be there at all.
They’re Experienced Negotiators
The best criminal defense attorney will always have experience with negotiations. It’s a huge part of an attorney’s job.
Depending on the circumstances of your case, you may not necessarily be able to get off scot-free. However, your attorney can negotiate with the court in an effort to reduce charges, fees, or other penalties.
They Can Provide Expert Legal Advice
A lack of legal knowledge is the biggest reason to never defend yourself in court. No matter how innocent you are, someone who knows more about the law than you do can easily outmaneuver you in court.
An experienced, professional attorney can advise you on the best strategies to obtain the results you want. Professionals who spend their days in traffic court are also more familiar with the specific judges, as well as the officers who write the tickets.
Knowledge of the system is invaluable when it comes to fighting your ticket.
They Know How to Fight Your Case
One of the most common mistakes someone will make when representing themselves is to incriminate themselves through the comments they make in court. “I ran the stop sign because I didn’t see it” is basically an admission of guilt. Not seeing the sign isn’t a defense.
Traffic lawyers who focus on cases like these know the ins and outs of building a defense. If you have to go to court, they can advise you on what to say, how to say it, and what not to say.
Remember: you’ll be facing off against someone who spends their time convicting people of crimes. They know what they’re doing. You’ll want someone in your corner who knows just as much about the law.
When Do You Need a Traffic Lawyer?
For some drivers, getting a ticket is an uncommon occurrence that results in paying a fine and moving on with their lives. For others, the consequences of getting a ticket can be serious.
Below are a few situations in which you may want to hire a traffic violation attorney.
You Already Have a Lot of Tickets
Getting numerous tickets within a relatively short timeframe can be a huge problem. Sometimes, people who get frequent traffic tickets run the risk of having their license suspended.
If you rely on your vehicle to get to work, school, or for business purposes, losing your license can be disastrous. You want to do everything possible to make sure you beat your ticket, including hiring a traffic attorney.
You Have a Commercial Driver’s License
Those who use a commercial driver’s license (CDL) to drive for a living are subject to strict rules. Often, these rules are even stricter than those for regular license holders. Certain traffic violations can result in having your CDL revoked – making it impossible for you to legally continue working in your industry.
If you have a CDL and drive for a living, you’ll want to keep your driving record as clean as possible. Following the rules is the best way to do that. However, if you find yourself being ticketed, hiring a traffic ticket attorney can help keep you driving for years to come.
You’re Involved in a Traffic Accident
Virginia is not a “no-fault” traffic state. This means that the party who is deemed to be “at fault” for a traffic accident is legally responsible for any resulting damages.
Sometimes determining who is “at fault” in an accident is pretty obvious. The driver knows they made a mistake and accepts the consequences. Unfortunately, that’s not always the case.
In some situations, determining who caused the crash can be hard to do. The other party involved may hire a traffic accident attorney in an effort to prove they didn’t cause the accident. If this ever happens to you, you should hire one as well.
The cost of failing to do so could be in the tens of thousands of dollars.
Do You Need a Traffic Attorney?
Getting a traffic ticket isn’t always a serious issue – but it can be. When you choose to fight a ticket, hiring a traffic attorney can save you time, money, and even help you keep your license.
If you’d like to learn more about fighting tickets and how a traffic attorney can help, check out our blog.