TRAFFIC LAW

  • What is considered a traffic ticket?
    A traffic ticket is a ticket that is given for either a moving or nonmoving violation. A moving violation is when you are operating a vehicle. These tickets include speeding, reckless driving, dangerous driving or drunk under the influence of alcohol. A nonmoving violation is one in which you were not actually operating the vehicle. These tickets may include such things as parking in a handicap space or in front of a fire hydrant. Fines may be assessed to you as well as points added to your driving record for violations.
  • What is the difference between an infraction and a violation?
    An Infraction of the law is a minor violation that is punishable only by a fine. Parking tickets and some traffic violations are considered an infraction of the law.

A Misdemeanor is a criminal offense that can be punishable by both a fine and a certain amount of time in jail. Driving under the influence of alcohol is an example of a misdemeanor.

  • What should I do if I am stopped by a police officer while in my vehicle?
    First remain calm and remember the police officer is just doing their job. It is best to make no sudden movements that may alert an officer as a possible danger sign. Keep your hands on the steering wheel and be prepared to present your drivers license and proof of insurance when asked. It has been said that when an officer has stopped a vehicle they already have it in their mind whether or not they will issue a ticket or just a warning. Whether this is true or not, be courteous to the officer and they will be courteous to you. If you are stopped and aren`t sure why keep in mind that an officer that is behind you may notice that your taillight is out or that your license plate is missing a current tag. These are things that you may not be aware of and it is the officer`s duty to inform you of this. Always remember whether we like being stopped by the police or not, they are here to protect us all and we should respect that.
  • If I am stopped for speeding, can the officer search my vehicle?
    Under certain situations a police officer may search your automobile. Naturally if you give an officer true consent to search your vehicle then they are allowed to. There is also what is called an automobile exception to the 4th Amendment, which is the part of the Constitution that requires a search warrant. A warrantless vehicle search may be allowed when the officer has a reasonable suspicion or probable cause to suspect criminal activity or a danger to officer safety. Generally, the police officer may search the area that is under the driver`s control. This area is normally the area that is within reach of the driver when sitting in the drivers seat. For more serious driving offenses, a police officer may be allowed to search the vehicle. Such an instance may be driving under the influence (DUI), which requires the officer to arrest you. Under such circumstances, a search of the vehicle would normally be allowed. Some state laws offer greater protection against searches of personal property. If a police officer has searched your vehicle, you should consult with an attorney for more information.
  • What should I do if I am issued a ticket?
    Follow the instructions on the ticket for the plea (guilty or not guilty) you wish to make, and act promptly. Your ticket must be paid or you must appear in court as indicated. If you do not respond to the ticket your driver license may be suspended. You would also be found guilty of the charge because of your failure to respond and a judgment would be entered against you. Driving with a suspended license is a crime and could result in higher fines, a revocation of your license, confiscation of your vehicle and even jail time.
  • If I receive a ticket, do I have to go to court?
    Not all tickets that you receive require you to go to court. You may simply be able to pay the fine by mail or in person without ever going to court. In some circumstances, such as failing to provide proof of insurance, you may be required to go to court and show that you did have insurance. Going to court generally depends on the type of and circumstances surrounding the issuance of a ticket. Some individuals may wish to attend court in order to fight a ticket that they believe was in error or because they already have many points assessed to their driving record.
  • Do I need to hire an attorney?
    If you receive a traffic ticket you normally do not need to hire an attorney. When you receive a traffic ticket you have the option to plead guilty and pay the fine or other consequences, or plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court. Depending on your driving record among other circumstances, pleading guilty may result in points being assessed to you driving record, a suspended license and increased insurance rates.

If you do wish to contest the traffic ticket, it may be in your best interest to seek legal help. This is true especially when you have had several tickets and or points assessed to your driving record. An attorney may be able to help more than you can on your own. In more complicated cases such as a DUI or reckless driving, it would be best to seek legal help and have an attorney represent you in court.

  • What happens if I do not appear in court when I am supposed to?
    The courts expect you to be present for your court date at the time specified. Generally a court will only accept certain excuses for not appearing and you must prove those excuses. If you do not appear in court when required, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest, your driver`s license may be suspended, additional fines may be assessed and even jail time may be ordered.
  • What is a valid excuse for willful failure to appear?
    A valid excuse should demonstrate that your failure to appear was not deliberate or intentional. Courts can be very strict when it comes to a person who fails to appear in court. The most common excuses that a court will accept are military duty, jail incarceration and medical incapacitation.
  • What proof for willful failure to appear should I bring to court?
    You should provide documents to prove that your failure to appear was not deliberate or intentional. This would include providing the courts with military orders, proof of jail incarceration or a medical excuse from a doctor or hospital.
  • What happens if I do not pay my fine?
    A warrant may be issued for your arrest if you have failed to pay your fine. A court date may then be set to address the warrant or you may be able to pay the fine plus the warrant amount in full.
  • Can my license be suspended or taken away?
    A license suspension can occur in several different ways. The most common way to lose a driver`s license is by accumulating traffic tickets for moving violations resulting in a suspended license. License suspensions may also occur because of failure to have liability insurance, driving under the influence of alcohol, refusing to or having many outstanding traffic violations. Driving with a suspended license is a serious offense that could result in arrest, jail time, fines, or having your license revoked. If your license is suspended, your insurance rates could be raised.
  • What are points and how are they determined?
    Points are a system which some states use to keep track of the number of and severity of moving violations that an individual has. Depending on the violation, an individual will receive a certain number of points on his or her driving record. The number of points assessed for violations may vary from state to state. The number of points assessed for a moving violation or traffic accident for which you are responsible may be one point. Meanwhile the points assessed for a DUI, reckless driving, driving on a suspended license, and other major violations may be many more points. States that use a point system may suspend or in some cases even revoke your driving privilege if you accumulate a certain amount of points within a set time period.

Insurance companies also look at the number of points on an individuals driving record in determining automobile insurance rates. The more points on your driving record, the higher your insurance rates may be.

  • What if my job requires me to drive, can I get a restricted license?
    It depends on why your driver`s license was suspended. Some restrictive driving is allowed under certain circumstances and varies from state to state. This type of license can be very restrictive and violations while operating a vehicle with a restrictive license can be plentiful.
  • Will my auto insurance be increased due to a traffic ticket?
    Just because you have received a traffic ticket does not necessarily mean your rates will go up. Increases in insurance rates depend on many factors. Insurance companies usually check an individuals driving record before determining what rate to charge them. If you have had several traffic tickets within a short period of time or have many points assessed to your driving record, your insurance company may increase your rates. Most insurance companies also offer discounts for individuals with excellent driving records.