You've heard that people sometimes hire a lawyer to fight traffic tickets, and you wonder whether that's really necessarily. Should you even bother fighting that moving violation ticket you recently received? Does it make sense to pay a lawyer instead of just paying the fine?
It's not just the money you need to consider. You also must consider how many violations, and the types of violations, that go on your driving record within a 12-month time frame.
Most states add points to a driver's license that correspond to certain violations. Getting a certain number of points -- such as 12 -- within a year means your license is automatically suspended. Other states don't add points but do suspend a license after a certain number of violations.
If your ticket adds a high number of points to your license, you may want to hire a lawyer to represent you in court. If you're in a state that doesn't assign points, you can still get a good sense of which violations are considered the most egregious by discovering the number of points other states assign to those offenses.
Violations Leading to the Fastest License Suspension
By looking at your state's department of motor vehicles or driver services website, you can find out how your state assigns points or views certain types of moving violations.
Driving under the influence, or DUI, commonly results in an automatic license suspension. Aside from that offense, you can generally expect the most points to be assigned for violations such as:
- hit and run
- reckless driving
- not stopping for a school bus with the red lights flashing
- driving on the wrong side of the road
- improper passing
- failing to yield the right of way to oncoming traffic or to an emergency vehicle
Speeding is one of the more common moving violations, and states typically address the level of risk by how fast someone was driving above the posted limit. For example, your state might assign six points for driving 20 miles or more over the posted limit. With one conviction of reckless driving and one of speeding at that rate, your license is suspended. Two convictions of speeding at that rate has the same result.
Other offenses aren't viewed as harshly by the authorities, but the points can still add up if you are careless. Speeding 10 miles or more over the limit, for instance, might assign three or four points to your license. Some states have complicated point systems that address numerous moving violations that you might not even think would qualify, such as:
- not stopping at a railroad crossing
- driving through private property to avoid a red light
- accelerating fast enough to burn rubber
- stopping your vehicle in a way that blocks traffic
What Does This Mean for You?
If you've received a ticket for an offense that puts you at substantial risk of driver's license suspension within the next year, contact a law firm that helps clients fight traffic tickets for an affordable fee. Also consider talking with a law firm if you've received several tickets for violations that you wouldn't think of as particularly serious. Those tickets can add up to license suspension over 12 months.
Some moving violations also are hard on the wallet, as they come with steep fines and can prompt your automotive insurance company to raise your premium.
Your lawyer approaches the prosecuting attorney's office and the judge in your case with a goal of negotiating a better outcome for you. The prosecutor does not want the case to proceed to a jury trial, which is expensive for the jurisdiction. That's a motivating factor for compromise. Depending on the laws in your state and jurisdiction, you might be able to have the ticket dismissed, or be allowed to pay a reduced fine while not having any points assessed to your license.