Lawyers and Traffic Tickets

There are three basic ways that a lawyer can help when you are charged with a traffic violation. They can listen to the details of your situation and analyze your legal position. They can offer you the pros and cons of several alternate courses of actions. Your attorney will gather facts and information from you and evaluate all aspects of the traffic offense you are charged with. An experienced attorney will evaluate all legal defenses available in your case. These can include mistakes and inaccuracies by the arresting officer, or other technical defenses that may be relevant. For serious charges, you may be able to utilize the lawyer's skill and experience to help you in negotiating with the prosecutor.

How a Lawyer Can Help

The lawyer can listen to the details of your situation and analyze your legal position and give you the pros and cons of alternate courses of action.

Most attorneys have a pretty good relationship with prosecutors. They know their way around the court system and will use their expertise to your advantage.

According to 1998 data from the National Highway Transportation Safety Administration (NHTSA), the combination of three field sobriety tests used together was only accurate in 91% of all DUI cases. This means that the arresting officer is wrong in 9 out of every 100 field sobriety tests. Accurate administration of the three tests requires that an officer follow strict guidelines and that these tests be administered under certain conditions. Your attorney may be able to challenge your case by using these tools. Before meeting with an attorney, prepare a summary of information regarding your case. This information will help the attorney to understand the details of your case.

Cost of a Lawyer

The fees an attorney will charge you to defend a traffic violation will vary depending on the type of offense you are charged with. Some attorneys charge a flat rate to get your citation dismissed. These often range from $300 or more depending on how much time and effort they will spend on your case. The fees for non-moving vs. moving violations may vary greatly. Some attorneys may find that it's expensive and time-consuming to handle a DUI defense and therefore, choose not to handle them.

A client should be clear on the purpose and scope of the representation. The client needs to determine what is included in the cost of the representation to ensure that they are receiving all of the services that they expect from their attorney. Prior to retaining an attorney, the client should consider requesting a written agreement so that both parties are clear on the terms.

Attorney's fees can quickly jump to $900 or $2000 or more to contest a speeding ticket and can run from $2000 to $4000 to handle a complex case that goes to trial. A lawyer may charge a fee for a specific type of case or an hourly rate ranging from $150 to $300 per hour. You may be required to pay an advance fee known as a retainer. A client should understand the details of the fee arrangement for the legal services prior to retaining an attorney so that they don't encounter unexpected costs once the representation has commenced. A client should also understand if they are entitled to a refund of the fee if they choose to terminate the attorney once they have begun work on the case.

Types of Lawyers

Private Practice

An attorney who specializes in traffic offenses knows the players, and the ever-changing laws and the processes by which cases are resolved in local traffic courts. Prosecutors are more likely to dismiss the charges against you when a traffic lawyer represents you. Prosecutors often take advantage of people who aren't represented by legal counsel. An experienced traffic attorney works to obtain the best possible outcome for your case. Their goal is to get the citation dismissed or at least reduced to a non-moving violation.

If your job requires driving, you cannot afford to have your driver's license suspended. Hiring an attorney can help you avoid these situations. Individuals with a commercial driver's license should always consult with a traffic attorney before paying a ticket. There are specific laws that apply to a commercial license that can result to a quicker license suspension. Hiring an attorney can protect your legal rights and driving record. They have the experience to effectively negotiate with prosecutors and judges.

During your initial consultation, you should ask the attorney whether they will personally be handling your case. Many clients don't want their case delegated to associate attorneys or paralegals.

After consulting with an attorney, the client should have a greater understanding of the law that applies to their case and have a clear view of their legal options. It is important that every client feel confident that their attorney will be actively engaged in protecting their legal interests.

Public Defenders

If an individual believes that he or she cannot afford an attorney, that person may request the court to appoint an attorney from the Public Defender's Office. Court-appointed attorneys represent only indigent people facing a jail sentence. Financial hardship caused by hiring an attorney is not sufficient grounds for the appointment of an attorney. The judge may order that, in addition to all fines and court costs, the defendant pay up to $500 for the services of a court-appointed attorney.

In order to have an attorney appointed, the defendant must disclose financial information to the court that includes the following:

  • A complete affidavit of assets and liabilities
  • Produce items concerning financial status that includes pay stubs, income tax returns, proof of disability, evidence of receipt of Social Security or public assistance
  • Authorize the IRS to furnish a copy of the defendant's most recent income tax return to the court

A defendant who plans to seek a court-appointed public defender should bring the following documents to court:

  • A current pay stub if they are employed
  • W-2 forms from the prior year
  • Any proof of income received from disability, social security or public assistance from the government
  • Receipts for rental, lease or mortgage payments, utility bills and medical insurance costs

How to Choose a Lawyer

Take time to meet with attorneys who specialize in the laws governing traffic violations. A well-experienced attorney will help you to understand the legal battle before you and will guide you through the legal process. When you are interviewing potential attorneys, be sure to take note of their experience in handling similar cases. Be sure to find out how much experience he or she has in the area of law that applies to your case.

Check the attorney's background and find out if they graduated from a quality law school. Be cautious of a lawyer who does not set forth his or her education and prior experience. A good and honest traffic attorney will inquire whether it even makes sense for you to fight this ticket and/or hire an attorney. A good traffic lawyer should be able to quickly tell you whether a case is worth it or not.

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  3. Choose attorneys to contact you