It is a common question that we hear in our office, or when someone approaches us at lunch. Traffic tickets do not always appear to be serious criminal charges that will change our lives, so many people think that it may not be necessary to hire an attorney for this type of representation.
You have a number of options. You may:
1. just pay the ticket
2. go to court and represent yourself
3. hire an attorney to represent you
If you ‘just pay it off,’ you should know that you will be admitting responsibility or guilt (depending on the offense indicated on the citation) to exactly what you have been charged with, and all parts of that charge. Many traffic citations have more than one charge, and if you pay off the ticket, you will likely be admitting to all the charges listed. Each of these charges may have an effect on your Department of Motor Vehicle Driver License points, and also on your insurance points. As most people know, you will lose your license if you accumulate too many driver license points. Likewise, your insurance will increase, sometimes very dramatically, when you get insurance points. So, just paying off your traffic tickets may end up costing you additional insurance, which may last for multiple years, and sometimes points can even cost you your privilege to drive. In either case, the cost of increased insurance or losing your license can be considerably more expensive than the cost of an attorney who represents clients in court on a daily basis.
The next choice you have is to go to court and represent yourself. This is almost always an option. Our United States and North Carolina Constitutions allow almost anyone to represent himself or herself in most courts. Attorneys are not necessarily smarter or more talented than non-attorneys, but they represent clients everyday. When someone does something everyday, they usually become skilled at such work. Also, with licensed attorneys, we are obligated by law to know the law and know the consequences of representation. In other words, in most cases, we can advise a client on the ramifications of different dispositions or how the way a ticket is handled in court will affect your future insurance or driver’s license.
Some people fix their own cars and plumbing and install new circuits in their electrical junction boxes in their homes. If a person knows exactly what he or she is doing, and has the proper skills, this can be fine. Of course, if you do not fix your car properly, or you do not connect your pipes right, or the connection you made in your electric box is faulty, such mistakes can be costly and even dangerous. So, the money you save on a mechanic, plumber or electrician may be nothing compared to the damage or injury done. The same can be true when you try to handle a traffic ticket on your own. You should know that the law prohibits a District Attorney or Assistant District Attorney from giving advice about how a particular result or disposition of your ticket will affect your insurance or your license. So, do not look to the opposition for help.
Your final option is to hire an attorney to represent you with your traffic offense. In most cases, the attorney can appear for you and you will not have to miss a day from work or anything else you would rather do than go to court. Of course the attorney will develop an understanding of your individual driving record and driving needs and concerns. From there, he or she will navigate through the most beneficial result to try to prevent an increase in your insurance rates or detrimental points against your license. Not every representation can result in a dismissal or significant benefit to the client, but an attorney who practices every day will be in an excellent position to seek a disposition that protects you, your money and your driver’s license.
At DiRusso & DiRusso, most traffic offenses can be handled with one phone call to our office. And, in most cases, we can appear for you and you will not have to come to court. When you call our office we will tell you the exact cost of representaing you for your traffic ticket and what steps are necessary to assist you.