When Should You Fight Your Traffic Ticket
I receive a lot of calls about traffic tickets. Some people are just looking for simple answers, while others are wondering if they can fight their traffic ticket. Here are a few frequently asked questions that I receive about traffic tickets in Oregon and California.
Traffic Ticket FAQ:
FAQ #1: What can an attorney do to help me after I received a traffic ticket / speeding ticket?
A: If you’ve received a traffic ticket you have a number of rights.
The most important rights are:
- You have a right to have a trial
- You have the right to hire an attorney to represent you.
If you are NOT planning to exercise your right to a trial, you probably do not need an attorney to represent you.
If you are going to trial then you may decide you want an attorney because they have knowledge and experience that you likely do not. Proper traffic ticket defense includes requesting and reviewing discovery, thorough communication between the client and attorney about the circumstances of the citation, obtaining statements from other (if any) witnesses, etc. Again, there are many variables here that are highly dependent on the citation and circumstances involved. Personally, I defend my client’s traffic tickets as though I was defending them in a criminal case because I think any time the State is accusing a citizen of violating the law it should be taken seriously. Sometimes having an attorney may not make any difference at all in the outcome of your case - sometimes having an attorney may make all the difference in the outcome. There are too many variables to predict this. All I can say is that if you want to maximize your chances of getting the best outcome for you, then you should consider exercising your right to a trial and hiring a competent attorney to assist you.
FAQ #2: I got a speeding ticket and I don’t want it on my record. Can you help me?
A: Yes, I can help. This does not mean that I can promise the ticket won’t go on your record.
The only way a ticket won’t go on your driving record is:
- If you complete “traffic school”
- You get the charge amended to a non-moving violation
- Or you get a dismissal or not guilty verdict on the ticket
I can help by helping you understand what all this means, your options in contesting the ticket, and making sure all steps are taken to give you the best chance for the best outcome for your ticket.
FAQ #3: How much do you charge to get my ticket dismissed?
A: First, I cannot promise your ticket will be dismissed. Getting dismissals or not guilty verdicts on traffic tickets is often difficult. There are so many variables in each case that even in the cases where someone has a strong defense, the outcome is too unpredictable. Aside from that, State bar rules forbid attorneys from promising their clients outcomes in their cases. I have never, nor will I ever, represent to a client that I will get their case dismissed. All I can do is guarantee that I will do my best to get my clients the best outcome I can.
FAQ #4: I got a speeding ticket (traffic ticket) and I forgot about it. What should I do now?
A: You should take care of the ticket. What that means for you is uncertain because of the following:
- Where you got the ticket
- How long it has been since you got the ticket
- The type of court you got the ticket in, etc.
All are variables in what options you may have going forward.There isn’t a “one size fits all” answer to this question and it varies on many factors.
FAQ #5: What will happen to my insurance rates if I get a traffic ticket or speeding ticket?
A: First, you have to get convicted on the ticket. I’m not aware of any insurance company increasing their insured’s premiums simply because that person received a ticket. If you get convicted on a traffic/speeding ticket then that is a different story. You will have to contact your insurance company to find out the answer. Some insurance companies may raise your premiums, some do not. Whether your insurance rates go up or not is not something I can give a concrete answer on.
FAQ #6: I want my ticket changed to a non-moving violation. What do you charge to do that?
A: Simply because you may want that to happen does not mean it will. Amending a charge on a citation typically requires the agreement of a prosecutor and/or the officer who wrote the citation. Whether this is an option for you is uncertain because there are many variables. I charge fees in traffic cases with the expectation that you are trying to beat your ticket. In the course of contesting the ticket, if amending the citation becomes a potential option, I would certainly try to accomplish that for you. However, there are no guarantees that this will happen and I don’t quote fees for representation limited to getting the charge amended to a non-moving violation.
FAQ #7: I’m afraid that my license is going to be suspended if I get a ticket. Can you help me?
A: Most often people risk getting their license suspended if they’ve been convicted of too many violations within a relatively short period of time, or the nature of the offense in the current citation is more egregious. I represent people on traffic citations when they’ve decided to contest them. Please see FAQ #1.
FAQ #8: This is my first speeding ticket / traffic ticket. Will that matter?
A: It depends. Usually it only matters in two contexts:
- First, if traffic school is an option, then the court offering the traffic school will commonly only offer it to people that do NOT have prior tickets (or old convictions for tickets).
- Second, it might matter in the amount of the fine the judge may impose IF you are found guilty.
Sometimes people think that because it is their first ticket (or first one in a long time) the judge will “give them a break” or “let them off” – this is unlikely. The fact that you haven’t had a ticket before, or had one in a long time, is not a legal defense that stands up in court.
FAQ #9: What do I do if the court sent my ticket to a collection agency or suspended my driver's license due to non-payment?
A: This is a relatively common occurrence and the answer depends on the circumstances.
In California it often will occur if you received a traffic citation, but did not handle the ticket by the date indicated on the citation. The court interprets your lack of attention as a disregard of the citation. The court will send a notice to the California DMV that you failed to appear and the CA DMV will suspend your privilege to drive until it is resolved. What you do will depend on what you want to achieve.
Another circumstance is that you were found guilty on the ticket and you haven’t paid the fine.The court will send the balance to a collection agency to collect the money and, in some circumstances, will also notify the DMV and the DMV may suspended your privilege to drive. If this is the situation the quickest way to handle the situation is to pay the amount owing and request the court provide you receipt for the payment and notify the DMV that it has been paid.
FAQ #10: I just got a traffic ticket what are my options?
A: Please watch my video located on this page(depending on your device, the video may be to the right or located at the bottom on this page).
FAQ #11: I am an out-of-state driver and got a ticket. What are my options?
A: Probably the same as an in-state driver. Please watch my video located on this page(depending on your device, the video may be to the right or located at the bottom on this page).
FAQ #12: Can I do traffic school?
A: You will have to contact the court in which you were cited to appear to discuss whether they have traffic school and, if they do, whether you are eligible.
FAQ #13: What is traffic school?
A: Generally speaking, traffic school is a program that requires you to listen/review material relevant to traffic laws and rules. Sometimes these programs are done live and in person. Sometimes you can do it online. At the conclusion of the presentation of the materials there is often a requirement for you to complete a test.
FAQ #14: I received a photo/camera ticket but I wasn’t the driver. What should I do?
A: This is common in Oregon. Often people get these tickets in the mail along with some form demanding that you identify the driver if you weren’t driving. I recommend that you do not complete the form and demand a trial. You are under no obligation to identify the driver of your vehicle or complete their form. If you need more advice about this situation you should consider scheduling a consultation.
FAQ #15: I received a citation and the officer spelled my name wrong, identified the color of my vehicle wrong or got my address wrong – can I get my citation dismissed?
A: Sometimes the citation may contain some incorrect information. Depending on how pivotal the incorrect information is will dictate whether a dismissal of the citation may occur. Things like minor misspellings of a name or vehicle color will likely NOT be a basis for a dismissal. However, things like incorrect code sections might be.
IF YOU HAVE FURTHER QUESTIONS ABOUT YOUR TRAFFIC CITATION, COMPLETE THE FORM BELOW TO SCHEDULE A 15 MINUTE TELEPHONE CONSULTATION WITH ATTORNEY WENTE. THE COST IS $45 AND CAN BE PAID ONLINE WITH A CREDIT CARD.