Maybe. If you just got a traffic violation and it’s a big one, it might be a good idea to seek legal advice. Not only is it going to cost you a bundle, but it’s sure to raise your auto insurance rates and you could lose your license. Depending on the infraction and the amount of the fine, you might benefit from hiring an attorney to fight a traffic ticket. But how can you know when the time is right to let an attorney fight your battle?
There are times when it may be your best interest to have some legal help. There are other times when tackling it yourself is the best course. Let’s look at some situations.
Is Your Traffic Ticket Serious Enough to Become a Client?
It depends on the offense. In most states, traffic citations for speeding, running a stop sign, making an illegal left turn and other driving mishaps are considered minor offenses. The fines and fees you may pay for being guilty of such an act are typically considered negligible.
If it is your first offense and you believe you were guilty of the offense, or just don’t care about it that much, then you can most likely enter a guilty plea and pay the fine online. Done and done. You most likely won’t even need to go to traffic court.
If you’ve been ticketed for a more major offense, obviously the situation changes and legal advice makes more sense. If your offense gets into the criminal offense arena, then yes, it’s something to consider. Some traffic tickets come with a much higher price – both in terms of immediate financial impacts, as well as repercussions down the line in the form of a car insurance rate hike and more.
The Impact of a Traffic Violation on Your Finances
It’s a good idea to understand what the ramifications to your wallet can be if you get a traffic ticket and plead guilty. Of course, all traffic offenses can be made worse and more expensive if they involve an accident or other damage or injury.
Minor Traffic Offenses
Most states consider running a red light a Class C misdemeanor. And you’ll face a variety of fines for running a red light. In California, it’s a whopping $500 offense. In the State of Texas, you are looking at a more reasonable $150 to $275. Over on the east coast in New York, those always-in-a-hurry drivers are facing a measly $50 fine if a traffic camera catches them running a red light. Down in sunny Florida, it’s $158 for running a red light.
So, where you get the citation has an impact on how much of an immediate financial hit you are facing. It’s perfectly understandable that a New Yorker may say “meh” and pay the ticket so they can get on with their crazy life and avoid traffic court. Whereas someone in California may decide it’s worth contesting the ticket.
Major Traffic Offenses
A major traffic citation may include reckless driving. What exactly is reckless driving? It’s operating your vehicle in such a manner as to put others in danger due to your behavior. For example, speeding, weaving in and out of traffic and improper passing. If your driving behavior is observed by law enforcement and you are given a ticket for reckless driving, you are facing some serious charges and penalties – and possibly face losing your driver’s license.
Let’s visit with the same states to get an idea of the price a reckless driving traffic ticket can cost. In California, reckless driving costs up to $1,000. Texans who get cited for being reckless while driving will pay up to $200, but they could go to jail for 30 days, as well. That New Yorker? He will be out $300 if he gets ticketed for reckless driving. And meanwhile, down in Florida, a reckless driver can be fined up to $500.
Getting a speeding ticket is almost a different category. In some cases, a speeding ticket can be considered a misdemeanor offense (1-10 miles over the limit) and in some cases, a speeding ticket can end up being considered a major offense (over 100 mph over the limit). All states have varying information about the fee structure around speeding, so it’s best to get the right information about your state and go from there. Typically, speeding is not considered a felony unless someone is hurt or killed.
A speeding ticket, just like the others, is a moving violation. If a police officer catches you speeding, resolving your issue may involve a visit to traffic court, depending on how fast you were going.
Is Your Case Worth an Attorney to Fight Traffic Ticket?
Again, it depends. If you are facing a large fine and possible jail time, most people will answer yes. If the ticket is minor and doesn’t cost much, maybe an attorney is too expensive. There are pros and cons to hiring a traffic ticket attorney.
Pros to Hiring an Attorney to Fight Your Case
- These lawyers are used to having clients like you, are fairly reasonable and can help you get the best possible outcome.
- They help their clients make sense of the laws and understand their rights and options.
- They might keep their clients out of jail and from losing their license and other penalties.
- They will come to traffic court with you and help you avoid missing your court date.
- They might keep your car insurance premiums from going up.
Cons to Hiring a Traffic Ticket Lawyer to Fight Your Case
- They cost money. If what they cost is more than what you’ll save in being found not guilty, is it really worth it?
- It can make the judge suspicious and wonder what else you’ve been up to if you need a lawyer for a traffic ticket.
- There’s never any guarantee you’ll come out on top.
You’ll need to shop around for an experienced traffic attorney. Bonus points if you find one that won’t charge you anything for being a client if they don’t get you off.
Alternatives to Having Legal Representation
Drivers who find themselves facing legal trouble due to a traffic issue may have some other options to finding relief. If there are no criminal charges, and you are willing to enter a guilty plea, pay court costs and attend traffic school – a judge might be a little more lenient on the penalties. Just don’t miss your court date if you want the best possible outcome and results!
The Ramifications to Your Car Insurance Rates
Your car insurance costs are always uniquely specific to you. If you’ve been a long-term customer with agency X and you’ve had a stellar driving record for many years, it’s unlikely that a minor traffic violation is going to result in a huge impact to your rates.
If, on the other hand, you’ve had several infractions leading to a spotty driving history, you could see a heart-stopping increase in your annual premium for a minor ticket.
Most insurance companies have a “look-back” time period they follow – meaning after 5 years or 10 years, your infraction will no longer be a consideration in your rate quote. As long as your record has been spotless since then, that is!
A good traffic ticket attorney will be working not only on getting you off on your citation, but also on keeping your car insurance company from penalizing you with a huge increase in your insurance premiums. If you are facing a hefty fine and a major increase in your auto insurance rate, an attorney might be a good option.
Find Cheap Car Insurance Online Today
Whether your driving record is spotless or spotty, Freeway Insurance can help you find car insurance that fits your needs and is affordable. You are welcome to get a free, no-obligation car insurance quote online, give us a call at (800) 777-5620 or stop by one of our convenient locations.