Friday, December 2, 2011

Did you get a traffic ticket? What now?

From time to time I hear comments or see posts on facebook or twitter from “innocent people” (the truth is Missouri Drivers are the second worst in the nation) about the ticket they recently received and their newly damaged “record”. And the question comes up, can I beat this? There are a variety of different options for a person that receives a ticket, but few of them are actually “beating” the ticket. Here are some potential choices:

Option 1: pay the ticket. While this option is a tough pill to swallow, it is certainly the quickest and easiest way to handle the matter. However, this option will have the greatest effect on your “record” and in the long run could end up costing you more money. While you do not have the cost of an attorney, the cost of your insurance rate increase over the years will exceed attorney fees many times over.

Option 2: Negotiate the ticket yourself. This option will require you to take off work and appear on your own behalf to negotiate the ticket yourself. In many cases you will be able to speak to the prosecutor and come to a plea agreement on the ticket. However, don’t be surprised if they offer the same deal as listed on the back of the ticket. The reason for this deals purely with your ability to recognize an appropriate disposition to the cause and your lack of negotiating power. However, under the right circumstances this option could potentially be the best route, but it could also be the worse.

Option 3: Fight the ticket. Whether you are fighting the ticket yourself or with the aid of an attorney, this option is rarely fruitful. At any level, your chances of winning are greatly increased with the aid of an attorney. However, while your ego may receive a boost from beating the system, your pocket book will take an even bigger hit. And I will go ahead and answer the question that comes up in these cases, “No, you cannot sue the state to get your money back from having to fight an invalid ticket.”

Option 4: Hire an attorney to negotiate. While it may seem bias due to my profession, this is clearly the best option. In the process of doing such an attorney can usually have one of two different outcomes:
1.       SIS – A suspended imposition of sentence is a great outcome that places you on probation for a period of time to be determined by the court. This is a great option because it does not include a fine and if you complete the probation period without further violations, then it never becomes a formal conviction against you. However, there are risks that you receive an additional ticket.
2.       Amend – This is the most common result of an attorney negotiating for you. In this option the Prosecutor will either amend the charge to defective equipment or a lower speeding resulting in no-points. These options are great because they result in no loss of points on your record, but the downside is that a fine usually is imposed.

No matter the option you choose, it is always best to consult with an attorney. Most provide free consultations and they can answer quickly how they can help you. Remember, most attorneys will charge around $150.00 to handle a ticket, and in most cases that means you never have to go to Court and the matter is resolved in the best way possible. Increased insurance rates, days off work, and points on your license could have devastating effects, so don’t just accept what the officer says and “pay it”. The extra $150.00 now, could pay off big in the future.

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Harris Law

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