I get this question all the time. My answer is a series of questions rather than an answer because it really depends. It depends on your age, your driving history, whether you have had supervision within the last 12 months, your insurance history, your driver’s license classification, the state where you are licensed, your employment, and your prospects for future employment. Which police department issued you the citation can also have a significant impact on the outcome of your traffic ticket. The answer to each of those questions will change my ultimate conclusion and advice. Maybe yes, and maybe no. But definitely yes, you should always have a lawyer take a look at your ticket.
The major factors impacting the need for a traffic lawyer are a driver’s age, history and driver’s license classification. Out-of-state licenses are impacted differently and certain jobs may require clean driving records. When you break it down, you will come up with 4 basic categories of drivers:
- Those that could choose to handle the ticket on their own and request supervision with traffic school
- Over 21 years old
- First ticket ever or first ticket in the last 12 months
- You work a normal job where you drive to and from work but nothing fancy
- You don’t mind a 4 hour online traffic safety school
- PRO TIP: Even if it sounds like you fall into this category, I would still tell you to set up a free consultation to make sure you don’t fall into one of the other categories. After a quick conversation, if you don’t need to hire a lawyer, I will be straight up and tell you how to best handle your situation without me.
- Those that just need to get supervision
- Most people fall into this category
- Hiring an attorney gives you:
- Peace of mind that your ticket will be handled correctly
- A chance at a better outcome than simply pleading guilty
- Possible dismissal of or amendments to your ticket
- The potential for a negotiated plea to save you money, even with attorney and court fees
- Those that need a traffic lawyer
- CDL licensed drivers
- Employment requires driving
- People with poor driving records
- Driver’s facing a suspension or whom are currently suspended
- People who want to keep their records clean
- Those that need a dismissal – almost nobody
- Some CDLs
- People with ongoing suspension issues or multiple pending tickets
How about the costs? Are you sure you can just mail in and request supervision with a 4 hour traffic safety school for $222? How will that impact your driving record? How will that impact your insurance costs? What if you don’t want to do a 4 hour traffic safety school? Do you want to take a day off work to go to court to try and fight it? How do you fight it when you get there? What does it mean that court costs on most petty offenses are $226? The ticket says $164, can I just pay that? The answer is, as is often the case in law, it depends. I always advise everyone to set up a free consultation with an experienced traffic attorney for every citation they receive. It’s free, and if you retain an attorney, many times, you will actually save yourself money, hassle, and potential future headaches.
I have handled thousands of traffic tickets in McHenry County traffic courts over the past 6 years; I can assure you that I know the process backwards and forwards. After our consultation, you can feel at ease knowing how to handle your traffic ticket. And if it includes hiring an attorney, you can rest assured that you have hired an affordable and experienced traffic attorney that can get results.