Depending on the circumstances of the ticket and your past driving history, pleading responsible to a traffic charge can have a variety of consequences. Before deciding how to best proceed, it’s important that you know what options are available to you and what the potential results and repercussions to each of those options might be. If you are facing more than a simple violation and this is not your first offense, consulting an attorney may be in your best interest. An experienced attorney will review your situation and help you determine if it may be worth fighting the particular violation.
“Strict-liability” offenses account for the majority of traffic tickets that are issued. This means that no particular criminal intent is required to convict a person of the offense. The only proof needed is that the person did the prohibited act. Strict-liability traffic offenses can be moving or non-moving violations and typically include such offenses as:
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Failure to use turn signals
- Failure to yield
- Turning into the wrong lane
Non-moving Violations (including faulty equipment)
- Parking in a handicap spot without the required sticker
- Parking in front of a fire hydrant
- Parking in a no-parking zone
- Parking in front of an expired meter
- Driving a car with burned-out headlights
- Driving a car with excessive muffler noise
If you are ticketed for a strict-liability offense, you will often have three options:
- Pay the required fine and have the conviction recorded on your DMV record for a period of years
- Attend traffic school
- Fight the ticket
These options may not be available to drivers who have received too many violations or who have reached a predetermined point total. Instead, they often face the automatic suspension of their license or may even have it revoked.
Considering paying the fine?
Fines for traffic violations can run from the mild to the seemingly excessive, depending on your driving record. While the choice of paying the fine addresses the immediate issue quickly, there are lingering effects that should be considered. Traffic violations appear on your MVD record for up to 3 years. This record can increase your insurance premiums and accumulate with any other charges such that, eventually, you could lose your driving privileges.
Considering traffic school?
Depending on the type of offense and your current driving record, you may be able to avoid or reduce the amount of the fee by attending traffic school. In many situations, the choice of attending traffic school will allow you keep your driving record clean and avoid an increase in your insurance premiums.
Considering fighting the ticket?
If you’re considering fighting a ticket there are some factors which should be considered in determining whether or not it is worth the effort and how it should be fought.
The most important initial consideration depends upon whether you are charged with a “civil infraction” or a “traffic misdemeanor”. A civil infraction is a traffic offense that carries only a fine and the possibility of “points” on your driving record, while a “traffic misdemeanor” a criminal offense.
If this is your first minor traffic offense and you are not at risk of losing your license, it is probably not necessary to retain a lawyer. If you have a history of offenses or you are charged with a traffic misdemeanor, however, you may benefit from consulting a lawyer before deciding how to proceed. An attorney will be able to advise you on the likelihood of a “plea bargain” that could reduce the charges from a traffic misdemeanor to a civil infraction rather than receiving a conviction “as charged” which will result in your having a criminal record.
Considering none of the options above?
Doing nothing, or accumulating too many violations can lead to a suspended or revoked license! Once your license is suspended or revoked you are at the mercy of the court. To have your license reinstated, you will often have to appear before a judge or hearing officer to plead your case. You will need to convince the court that you had a reasonable excuse for not dealing with the previous violations and that you’ve improved your driving habits since the violations occurred.
The laws and penalties for traffic violations can be confusing and costly. To speak to an experienced, aggressive attorney who will fight for your rights, contact Michael Kielsky, 24 hours a day, at 480.461.5309.
Learn more about: