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Many drivers underestimate the serious consequences of paying a traffic ticket. Paying a traffic ticket may seem like the easy way out, but this is not advisable. Paying the ticket means accepting guilt. In addition to the fine—which can cost hundreds of dollars depending on the offense—the driver can also suffer one or more of the following consequences.
Points. Many traffic offenses result in points being assessed on one’s driver’s license. This can range from as few as 1 point to as many as 5 or more, depending on the state and the offense. Accruing too many points can result in additional consequences.
DRA/Surcharges. When drivers exceed 6 points on their license, he/she may be assessed additional fees beyond the fine. In New York, this is called a Driver Responsibility Assessment (DRA), and costs $300 plus an additional $75 for each point over 6. New Jersey has a similar fee which it calls a Surcharge. This costs $450 plus $75 for each point over 6. (Keep in mind that some offenses in New Jersey, such as DWI, carry Surcharges regardless of points).
Suspended license. Drivers who reach 11 points on their license in New York or 12 points in New Jersey can find their license or driving privileges suspended. The same can happen to drivers who are convicted of speeding three times within 18 months in New York. A license can also be suspended if the driver fails to pay the ticket. Remember, too, a suspended license can make it difficult to get to and from work, which can put one’s job at risk if alternative transportation can’t be arranged.
Auto insurance increases. Every moving violation that ends up on one’s driving record can cause a hike in insurance rates. This can result in paying hundreds of dollars more every year, for three or more years.
Jail time. Most traffic violations carry the potential for jail time, although judges only impose it in the most severe circumstances. Crimes committed behind the wheel can have life-changing consequences, including jail or prison and a permanent criminal record. This is the case for charges such as driving while suspended, drunk driving, and reckless driving.
What if I Don’t Live in the State Issuing the Traffic Ticket?
Drivers should still be concerned about traffic tickets issued to them in other states. Under the Driver’s License Compact, a traffic ticket written in one state can show up on the driving record of someone who lives in another.
The Compact is an agreement among participating states (and most participate) to share driver information. This means that the fines, points, and other penalties can be imposed and enforced regardless of where the person lives.
Why Hire an Attorney?
There are several reasons why a person should hire an attorney to fight a traffic ticket.
- Fighting tickets is harder than you think. Those who are willing to fight a ticket often underestimate how difficult it can be to present legally sound arguments strong enough to convince a judge to dismiss it. A lot of so-called “self-help” websites claim to offer tips on how to successfully get a dismissal. Don’t fall for it! Most of the time these tricks don’t work. Those who attempt them will only waste their time and end up getting convicted anyway.
- Those who challenge a traffic ticket will have to face off against an officer or prosecutor whose sole job is to get convictions. They, and the judges who oversee the cases, are experts at asking questions, uncovering details, and sniffing out what they perceive to be untruths.
- In reality, the odds are overwhelming that a driver will lose and get convicted. Not to mention the fact that he/she might have to sit in court for hours until the case is heard. Worse, if the officer does not show up, the judge may order the driver to come back a second or third time.
- You may not need to come to court. For most traffic ticket cases in New York, an attorney can appear in lieu of the driver, meaning he/she will not have to take time off from work and spend all day in court. New Jersey is more strict about court appearances, but in some cases an attorney can file an affidavit of hardship to excuse a driver from appearing so long as the attorney represents him/her.
- You very likely will save money. It’s tempting to presume that hiring an attorney costs more than the traffic ticket fine. However, this rarely accounts for the rise in auto insurance rates, the possible cost of a DRA or Surcharge, and the risk of losing the license.
For all of these reasons, it pays to hire an aggressive traffic ticket lawyer to handle a traffic ticket case.
Why Not Just Take a Defensive Driving Class?
Drivers in New York and New Jersey who have been convicted of traffic violations can take defensive driving classes (traffic school) to reduce some of the consequences. However, while these courses are highly recommended, in many cases they are not enough.
For example, in New York, a state-approved defensive driving course does not actually reduce the number of points on one’s license; rather, it puts a points credit on the driving record which in effect increases the number of points needed for a license to be suspended. Similarly, in New Jersey, such courses will reduce points, but they can only be taken once every five years. However, the actual, original conviction still stays on the person’s driving record and will not be erased by traffic school. This means the driver’s auto insurance company will still be able to see it. The only way to get points or a ticket removed from one’s driving record is to successfully fight it in court.
Frequently Asked Questions
In the case of “he said/she said” between the driver and the officer, the judge will believe the officer nearly 100% of the time. It requires evidence, skill, and knowledge of the law to prove that an officer is fabricating a traffic offense. Moreover, most officers do not lie in court, which is one of many reasons why judges typically side with them unless strong evidence or arguments can be presented to convince him/her otherwise.
Not necessarily. In many cases, an officer’s estimate of one’s speed is sufficient to convict. However, an attorney may be able to discredit the officer’s observations through strategic questioning.
Yes; they are the same thing.
Drivers can contest a suspended license by asking for a DMV hearing. It is best to contact an attorney before attempting to do so. Another way to potentially avoid a suspension is to ask the court to vacate a prior guilty plea or conviction and renegotiate or ask for a trial.
Data on Traffic Tickets in the U.S.
There are nearly 230 million licensed drivers in America today, of which more than 12 million are licensed in New York and more than 6 million are licensed in New Jersey. Approximately one in every five drivers has been issued a traffic ticket in the past 5 years. More than two-thirds of those are for speeding. It’s been estimated that Americans waste as much as $7.5 billion each year on traffic ticket fines. Sadly, only 5% of drivers who fight their traffic tickets manage to win their case (but those who hire attorneys have better odds).
Why Hire Rosenblum Law?
The attorneys of Rosenblum Law will use skilled negotiation tactics to challenge the ticket to get the best settlement or “plea bargain” possible. If a plea bargain is not available, we will take your case to trial and use trial tactics gained from years of courtroom experience to attempt to obtain a dismissal. We won’t let the prosecutor take advantage of your lack of experience–our talented attorneys will handle the case from start to finish. Moreover, in the vast majority of non-criminal traffic ticket cases, you won’t even have to come to court – your lawyer will go for you so you don’t have to waste hours of your time and/or miss work.
Call us at 1-888-815-3649 or contact us via our website for your free consultation. You will speak directly to an individual who will be able to answer any questions you may have.