Is there anything more aggravating than a traffic citation, demanding your immediate donation to the local clerk of court? For some of us this is a once, or couple times a year happening, while others it seems, manage to go years without getting a citation. Most citations can be disposed of by paying the citation without further action (never a good idea. Stand by for my rationale), taking in a 4 hour basic driver improvement class, or appearing in court. A court appearance can be made alone or through hiring an attorney to appear on your behalf.
If cited, the absolute worst thing you can do is pay your citation without taking measures necessary to avoid points being assessed to your driving record. If you pay your citation and receive points on your driving record, this will have a negative effect in two or more ways. Point accumulation over different periods of time can contribute to driver’s license suspension. Receiving 12 points in 12 months will suspend your driver’s license for a period of 30 days, 18 points in 18 months will suspend your driver’s license for 90 days, finally and most harshly, 24 points accumulated in 36 months will have you pedaling your bike for an entire year. To squeeze more lemon juice into the wound, it is possible that ticket accumulation and/or a combination of criminal charges and civil infractions could suspend your license for a 5 year period pursuant to Florida’s Habitual Traffic Offender statute. When you are graciously granted the statutorily assessed point total for paying your ticket, your insurance company will be notified immediately and without fail, your insurance premiums will go up. Stated simply, PAYING THE TICKET ALONE = ADJUDICATION OF GUILT = POINTS = INCREASED INSURANCE RATES. Doesn’t sound good does it?
A much better option is taking a 4 hour basic driver improvement course which decreases your fine by 18% for most tickets and will prevent points from being assessed assuming it’s accepted in the jurisdiction where you got your citation. This is a great option for most, and in fact I have counseled hundreds of people and existing clients to take the course, as it is a guarantee of keeping the points off. One can elect to take a 4 hour class once every 12 months and up to 5 times over the course of their life. One drawback to electing the driving school is that you are never given the shot to beat your ticket outright through a court hearing. For many their day in court is a not something they are willing to compromise as they zealously contest the ticket’s allegation. If you happen to be an out of state driver, be very wary of taking a traffic class outside of your home state. It is possible that your completed and properly submitted traffic school won’t act to keep the points off your record in your home state. Florida may not transfer points to your out of state DMV, however your home state may not honor the driving school you sat through. This could mean you paid for a class that won’t benefit you and you’ll have your state’s point total for your offense applied to your driving record. If you’re an out of state driver, your best bet is to hire local counsel to appear in court on your behalf in an effort to keep the points off your record.
Lastly, and obviously my favorite option, hire a qualified attorney to ensure that you keep the points off your record, or better yet, get the ticket dismissed completely!! Florida is full of busy people. Whether you are a part of the grind working 40-90 hours a week, or you’ve paid your dues and would rather pass your free time on one of Florida’s many beautiful golf courses or cast a line in the big pond to Pinellas County’s west, for most of Florida’s residents their time is too valuable to be spent in a traffic courtroom. No one wants to spend 4 hours in driving class or in front of a computer when you could be fighting a hard charging Tarpon. If you’ve been so lucky as to receive a citation following an accident, you should definitely contact a traffic attorney to investigate your options. If serious bodily injury was reported on the citation, you are facing a mandatory 3 month driver’s license suspension. Recently I negotiated with a citing officer to drop the serious bodily injury portion of the infraction in exchange for an increased fine. My client kept her driving privilege intact and gladly paid the slightly increased fine in lieu of losing her license. It is certainly worth your while to speak to an attorney when serious bodily injury is in issue. If there is an accident without injury, the officer rarely is an eyewitness to the accident. If they didn’t witness the accident, the Officer can only prove your fault by issuing a subpoena to an eyewitness. Very often the other party/eyewitness will fail to appear in court. If the other motorist fails to appear at your hearing and no other eyewitnesses are present, your ticket will be dismissed due to the State’s inability to prove you were the at fault party.
So, the moral of the story in ticket-town is that you almost always benefit from contacting a traffic attorney. Most of the time you can get a very good price for representation and may not even have to take a driving course to keep the points off. Good luck! Contact the traffic attorneys at The Mayberry Law Firm today at (727) 771-3847 for a free consultation!