Traffic Tickets – When to Fight a Ticket
Imagine you’re making your way to work or going home. You’re following the flow of traffic, listening to music, your mind focused on your first meeting of the day or thinking about what to cooking for dinner when you see it. The unmistakable flash of red, white and blue in your rearview mirror. Reluctantly, you pull over and fish out your license and auto insurance as a uniformed police officer walks to your window.
Getting a traffic ticket is always inconvenient, but they can also be the result of a serious matter. What should you do? Is it worth fighting the ticket? While it is not impossible to win your case, realize that police officers enjoy substantial legal advantages:
- The officer wins in court when it’s your word against his.
- The officer will win unless you bring witnesses to court.
- The officer seems to “know the law.”
- You are on your own to defend yourself.
- You must build your own case.
If you decide to fight your ticket and are deciding to hire an attorney, consider the following:
- You are at risk for having your license suspended.
- You might go to jail for the ticket you received (for example, severe reckless driving or a “hit and run”).
- The violation is linked to an accident that caused serious injuries or a death.
- The violation involves resisting arrest.
The factors above are compelling reasons to hire an attorney; however, usually an attorney is not needed for most traffic violations. You may also want to consider taking a defensive driving course if your state offers it to “wipe off” your driving record.
Should you fight the ticket and defend yourself? Is another question you have to answer after deciding whether or not to hire an attorney or take defensive driving. Some factors to consider are:
- The severity of the offense
- Whether there is an objective, credible witness who can tell a story that will excuse you alleged conduct
- Possible excuses for your behavior
- The other parties’ bad conduct
- Extenuating circumstances (such as the police officer targeting you because of your race, sex or dress)
Also, you must consider the time and effort it takes to fight the ticket. If your case has some merit, it may be worth trying to fight the ticket. Just know that you will need to make several court appearances and be present for a trial, usually before a judge. If you lose, most courts impose double penalties in order to discourage drivers from fighting every citation.
For any advice, contact member services to be paired with an attorney!