The most common question asked when a person receives a traffic ticket is "Do I have to hire an attorney?". Do you have to hire an attorney- No. Should you hire an attorney...
The most common question asked when a person receives a traffic ticket is "Do I have to hire an attorney?".
Do you have to hire an attorney- No. Should you hire an attorney- Yes.
Traffic laws have become incredibly strict in recent years. Every violation is assigned a point value. Point value is one of a number of factors that determine whether your insurance will increase or whether the DMV will suspend your drivers license. For example, in North Carolina, a person's license will automatically be suspended for thirty days if convicted of driving 15 mph over the speed limit. Here is the link to the North Carolina DMV handbook. You will be shocked to see how easily it is to have your license revoked.
In Mecklenburg County, the District Attorney's Office is the office that prosecutes vehicle code violations. They will be the first person you see when you appear for your traffic ticket. As a former Deputy District Attorney I can tell you that a prosecutor is not allowed to give legal advice. They cannot answer any of your questions regarding how this ticket will affect your license or your insurance premium. They will give you an offer to plea guilty and you can either accept it or reject it. If you reject it, you will have a court trial in front of a judge and the police officer.
A friend of mine recently called and said she received a ticket in York County, South Carolina. She wanted to know what her options were. Almost two years ago she received a ticket in Gaston County, North Carolina. Being a busy working mom with two kids and under time constraints, she just sent the money in for the Gaston County ticket. Her insurance immediately went up; her insurance company told her that the increase was due to her admission of guilt to a speeding violation that was over a certain miles per hour. This is a person with a very good driving record! Many volumes can be written on the various reasons insurance companies raise your premiums.
However, the DMV did not suspend her license. This brings up another point. When you get a moving violation, not only do you have to be concerned with your insurance premium, but also what the DMV will do with your license. They can suspend your license in Mecklenburg County and all surrounding counties in North Carolina for violations which many would view as minor. For example, the North Carolina DMV can suspend your license for driving 15 mph over the speed limit when driving at a speed higher than 55 mph. So, if you are leaving Charlotte to head for the beach for the weekend, your license could be suspended if you are caught doing 70mph on the Interstate. Some police will also cite you for reckless driving.
What my friend was not aware of was that a speeding ticket lawyer could of gone to court for her, appeared for her, and negotiated the ticket with the prosecutor or judge. Many times the District Attorney's office will lower the mph violation or cite you for a non moving violation that won't affect your insurance premium. Sometimes, they will allow you to go to a defensive driving school. There were many options available to her that she simply didn't know about. Moreover, she could of taken care of this without ever have going to court.
Almost two years later now, she is cited in York County for speeding 9 miles over the speed limit. How many times do you drive 44 mph in a 35 mph? York County recently enacted a Traffic Education Program. Depending on a number of factors, including the severity of your ticket and your driving history, you can go to a 4 hour course and get your ticket dismissed. You must, however, qualify for this program. If you don't automatically qualify, an attorney could possibly assist getting you into the program. Moreover, an attorney can advise and negotiate on your behalf.
The bottom line is that we drive every day and take for granted how difficult our daily lives would be without a drivers license. I have represented many clients accused of driving while licensed revoked; you do not want to be cited for this. Not only would you have a criminal misdemeanor pending, you now have the Department of Motor Vehicles controlling your ability to drive. This creates a hornet's nest that the average law abiding citizen cannot imagine, putting aside the issue with maintaining car insurance.
So, should you hire an attorney- Yes.
In most cases, the attorney will appear in court for you. You never have to see a courthouse. You have to ask yourself how much your time is worth and how competent you are in criminal law.
An attorney can negotiate a result for you that you didn't know about.
An attorney can possibly keep your insurance premium down.
An attorney can help you keep your license.