People often ask me whether it makes sense to hire an attorney for a so-called "minor traffic ticket." As with so many things in the law, "it depends."
On one hand, you have to consider the cost of paying an attorney. Will hiring a lawyer for a traffic ticket cost more, or less, than the cost of paying the fine for the ticket?
But on the other hand, are there extenuating circumstances that might justify spending the money on an attorney? Consider the potential consequences of a criminal conviction for a moving violation. Points will be assessed on your license. Your insurance rates might increase. And if you drive commercially, you might jeopardize your Commercial Drivers' License (CDL), and your job.
If it's your first moving violation in years, it might not make sense to hire a lawyer for a traffic ticket. But in some circumstances, it's worth it to spend the money for an attorney to defend you, even if the charges you're facing are relatively minor.
Points on Your License
Like many states, Florida uses a points system. Each ticket you receive results in a number of points on your license. The number of points varies with the severity of the offense. Once you reach a certain number of points within a given time frame, your license will be suspended.
The number of points and the length of the license suspension in Florida are as follows:
- 12 points within a 12 month period results in a 30-day license suspension
- 18 points within an 18 month period results in a 3-month suspension
- 24 points within a 36 month period results in a 12-month suspension
While it may seem difficult to rack up 12 points in a year, it can actually happen pretty quickly if you're not careful. Common traffic offenses and the number of points assessed are as follows:
|Speeding, less than 15 mph over the speed limit||3 points|
|Speeding, more than 15 mph over the speed limit||4 points|
|Speeding that results in a car crash||6 points|
|Moving violation||3 points|
|Moving violation that results in a car crash||4 points|
|Failing to stop at a traffic signal||4 points|
|Passing a stopped school bus||4 points|
|Reckless driving||4 points|
|Leaving the scene of a crash involving property damage||6 points|
|Improper lane change||3 points|
|Violation of a traffic control sign/device||3 points|
|Child restraint violation||3 points|
Depending on the nature of the violation, you could receive points on your license for multiple infractions arising out of the same incident.
Insurance Rates Increase After a Traffic Ticket
If you are convicted, plead guilty to, or "waive" a traffic ticket, you will receive points on your license. In Florida, points on your drivers' license may lead to an increase of up to 50% on your insurance rates. This is because, from an insurance standpoint, your past driving behavior is used to predict your future behavior on the road. Once the insurance companies consider you a "high risk driver" you will be subject to higher insurance premiums.
In deciding whether to hire an attorney to defend you against a Florida traffic ticket, consider how much money you could pay in increased insurance rates over the next three years, and weigh that against the cost to hire an attorney to fight the traffic ticket. Over time, you may come out ahead by paying a little more now to preserve your good driving record.
Traffic Tickets for Commercial Drivers Could Cost You Your Job
If you drive commercially, the consequences of a traffic ticket can be even greater, even if you were not driving professionally when you received the ticket. People who drive for a living, like over-the-road truck drivers and taxi or limousine drivers, must obtain a Commercial Driver's License (CDL). Once you obtain your CDL, you are held to a higher standard when it comes to moving violations. Among other things, you will receive more points on your license for the same infraction, and points received while driving your personal vehicle still count towards the number of points on your CDL.
If you drive commercially and are convicted of a traffic violation, depending on the severity and number of offenses, you could face suspension of your CDL. And depending on your employer, even if you don't lose your license, you could still find yourself out of a job.
If you have a CDL and received a traffic ticket, whether it's your first one and it's minor, or if you've received multiple tickets, it might be a good investment to pay a lawyer to fight a traffic ticket if it prevents the loss of your livelihood.
Want to Fight Your Traffic Ticket? Contact the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher Today
If you've been charged with a traffic violation and want to fight it, contact me at the Law Office of Jody L. Fisher today. Based in Leesburg, I represent people throughout central-Florida. Call (352) 503-4111, or complete our online information form.