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Should You Hire an Attorney to Fight a Traffic Ticket?

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You just got a traffic ticket – a big one. Not only is it going to cost you a bundle, but it’s sure to raise your auto insurance rates. Depending on the infraction and the amount of the fine, you could benefit from hiring an attorney to fight your ticket.

While in many states fighting a $55 traffic ticket may not make sense, California has such a complicated “penalty assessment” system for assigning fees, it may be a viable option. For example, in addition to the base fine for speeding, running a stop sign or making an illegal left turn, the Golden State throws in a few extras, including:

  • State Penalty Assessment $100.00
  • County Penalty Assessment $70.00
  • DNA Penalty Assessment $50.00
  • Court Facility Construction Penalty Assessment $50.00
  • 20% Surcharge (allowed on all tickets) $20.00
  • EMS Surcharge $8.00

By tacking on these fees, among others, a $35 base fine for driving 1 to 15 miles per hour over the speed limit in California can skyrocket into a $325 ticket – not counting traffic school and other administrative fees. The base fine increases accordingly with the number of miles over the speed limit you were caught traveling. They are:

  • 16 to 25 miles per hour over speed limit – Base fine: $70.00
  • 26 miles or more per hour over the speed limit – Base fine $100.00

Furthermore, you’re also looking at getting a point on your driver’s license and higher auto insurance as a result, unless you qualify for traffic school.

According to the National Motorists Association (NMA), an estimated 40 million speeding tickets are issued in the United States each year with the average penalty being about $135 to $150. But, that is far lower than the average ticket in California.

Should you have cracked the 100 mph barrier, you’re facing a serious fine of $900 and up, with a number of other possible penalties, if found guilty. These include:

  • Two points applied to your driver’s license
  • Your driver’s license could be suspended for 30 days
  • A fine of up to $1,000
  • Traffic school is not an option for this violation

For violating CVC Section 22348 – driving over 100 mph – the law requires that you or your attorney appear before a judge. You can’t just pay your fine and be on your merry way. It’s a mandatory court appearance and going it alone could be a big mistake and result in having all possible penalties levied against you. Having an experienced traffic ticket attorney by your side would be a wise choice.

Prices vary and you should probably shop around for the best rates as you would when shopping for auto insurance. Most traffic ticket attorneys charge a flat fee of a few hundred dollars, depending on the infraction. Plus, many of these specialized law firms guarantee you’ll only pay a fraction of the original fine or will have your ticket dismissed and incur no points on your driver’s license – with a high level of success to prove it.

It all comes down to the infraction you’ve been cited for, the amount you’ll have to pay, and by how much your car insurance will increase, if you don’t fight the ticket.

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