Getting hit with a traffic ticket can prove a huge hassle, and sometimes involve an unnecessary degree of humiliation on top of the expense of the ticket, potential legal battle, spikes to your insurance, and possible license revocation.
When is it worth it to fight your ticket in court and when should you bite the bullet and cut a check to the authorities? This article will offer a broad overview of what factors you should consider when it comes to making the decision of whether to just pay the ticket or hire an attorney and take your chances in court.
When it comes to assessing cost, the price of the ticket is not where your cost ends.
Insurance charges higher premiums on any and all of the following bases:
- Number of accidents
- Price of accident coverage costs
- Accidents you (the driver) caused
- Gender (bad news guys, men get charged higher premiums than women)
- Record of traffic violations
There is no question that paying any traffic ticket (which, you should remember, means that you are admitting guilt) is going to likely yield an increase in your coverage premiums.
Depending on the circumstances, as well as your history and personal details as related to the list above, this could be an annual increase of fifty bucks, but it could be a drastic increase of several thousand dollars.
Run a cost-benefit analysis for yourself that factors in the anticipated insurance hike plus the ticket price versus the cost of hiring an attorney. Additionally, factor in your likelihood of success in court, which is going to come down to a few more considerations.
Likelihood of Success
Whether or not you win your case, theoretically, ought to come down to whether or not you are guilty of the deed. Were you speeding or not? Of course, nothing is that simple, especially in traffic court.
Here’s a brief rundown of the do’s and don’ts when it comes to contesting a traffic ticket and how it will impact your chance of success:
- Look up which specific law you have been charged with violating, whether it’s speeding, reckless operation, failure to yield, running a red light, etc.
- Find out if there is a driver education/traffic school program course you can complete in exchange for the ticket being waived
- Try to postpone the date of your court appearance – this is a good strategy because if the police officer who pulled you over doesn’t show up in court, your ticket will be dismissed automatically. If you reschedule close to a holiday, the odds will be better if the officer doesn’t bother coming
- Aim to make a written defense if it is an option in your state – some states allow you to submit a written defense by mail, in which case the police officer must do the same. This can be a bit of a pain for the charging officer because, as anyone with a cop in the family knows, police are often swamped with paperwork, so forcing a written explanation may be enough for them to avoid the extra hassle and you will be home free
- Argue that the police officer is lying or was unfair (especially if it’s not true) – judges don’t look kindly upon this style of defense, and at the end of the day, if it comes down to your word against a police officer, the officer will win
- Try to say that you didn’t understand the law – it is a citizen’s responsibility to know what they are and are not allowed to do (that’s basically the point of driving school), so ignorance is not a winning legal defense
- Come up with excuses – “I was late to work” is not a reason to break the law, and you will find no sympathy in court with reasons, however valid, for why you were driving too fast or blowing through stop signs
- Tell the judge that lots of other cars were driving fast or doing the same bad thing you were doing. First of all, this is basically an admission of guilt, and the “but everyone else was doing it” argument stopped working in middle school
At the end of the day, if you do decide to contest the charges against you, your greatest likelihood of success is going to depend on the talent of your legal representation.
John Foy & Associates is an excellent option for legal assistance by attorneys who have a proven track record of successful representation in traffic court.