THOUGHTS ON HANDLING TRAFFIC TICKETS
Most of us have had that experience of driving down the road, listening to the radio and thinking all is well< and suddenly seeing those blue lights turn on behind us (or, blue lights in front of us when they are turned on). We may look down and realize the speed had picked up or realized we missed a new posted speed limit. Regardless, with the exception of the possibility of receiving a warning, the next challenge is dealing with the ticket.
First, in receiving the ticket, you will almost always have the option of paying the ticket amount to avoid going to court. This has the benefit of ending the hassle of worrying about the ticket and forgoing the sacrifice of going to court on the specified date. This is particularly the case when the ticket is incurred in a foreign state. The negative aspect will be not only the cost of the ticket but in the potential effect on driving privileges and vehicle insurance rates. In the event of an under 10 MPH, 2 point ticket the effect on the driving record and insurance rates will be minimal (assuming no other tickets within a three year period). In the event of a ticket of 4 or more points, the effects can be substantial. This must be considered in deciding to fight the ticket.
Second, in deciding to fight the ticket, it's important to understand what's reasonably possible. In many venues and particularly with state highway patrols, dropping a driver below the two-point level is against policy. Therefore, in deciding to spend the money to hire an attorney in those situations, you may have just thrown that money away. Lawyers will invariably give the caveat of no guarantees to the reduction of fines or points. However, in some venues and municipalities, an option may exist for the attorney to seek a plea to a non-moving ordinance. In that case, a similar fine is paid, but no points are assessed against the driving record. This usually assists with keeping points off the driving record and keeping the insurance rates lower than with a moving violation.
Third, it is normally worth the price to hire an attorney in the event of a ticket involving four points or higher. The likelihood of getting the points and fine reduced to a two-point ticket (with a corresponding fine) is usually much higher than in fighting a two-point ticket. Additionally, the attorney can provide help with defenses laymen would not normally be aware. Issues of the radar equipment, calibration, etc. can be investigated, and the attorney would generally have a much better idea of what to contest or question. Keeping a violation of four or more points, with the corresponding jump in insurance rates, off the driving record will usually save far, far more money than the fee paid to an attorney to fight it.
Lastly, infighting, tickets and dealing with law enforcement and the courts always remain truthful and respectful. Never tell a lie in court, and outside of unique circumstances of police abuse of authority, show respect to the officer. That officer will likely be in court at the hearing the judge makes his ruling on the ticket. If the officer agrees to a reduction, the court will almost always go with the officer's recommendation. Obviously, the officer is a human being who will react as any human being to mistreatment by someone receiving a ticket. He will also react in a predictable manner if one is not telling the truth. The court will likely take the word of the officer. Same with the Judge: Be honest and be respectful and think clearly about handling tickets.