Can I Show Up In Court And Represent Myself?
Yes, you can – but there is wisdom reflected in the longevity of such old sayings as he who represents himself in court has a fool for a client. This tongue-in-cheek aphorism applies to attorneys too. In many cases, an attorney who gets a ticket or a charge of some kind will try to represent themselves. They will start talking in court, falling for admission traps (e.g., well, how fast were you going?) – and each time they do so, they make their case worse for themselves. It’s similar to asking whether a surgeon can perform surgery on themselves. Technically it can be done, but that doesn’t mean it’s the best way to do it. Therefore, if attorneys can find themselves in this predicament, it is certainly a possibility for a motorist or other layperson too. And so, as the best advice for anyone who receives a ticket or charge of some kind, it is always best to be represented by a traffic ticket lawyer.
When it comes to fighting a ticket, the best course of action is to hire counsel early. I’ve had people come in and hire me while their tickets were virtually still warm. They came in right off the roadway where they were issued the ticket and straight to my office. In this situation, I’ll take care of everything and let them know when it’s all done. Alternatively, I have also had people hire me mere hours before court because they suddenly realized they didn’t want to do it, which is definitely not recommended. The flat fee is the same whether you hire me sooner or later, so it is wisest to hire me sooner. I will be able to do more work on the case before the matter even comes up on the court’s schedule. Sometimes I will broach the issue with the prosecutor of your court ahead of time to discuss mitigating factors in the case.
Does Every Traffic Ticket Need An Attorney For it To Be Handled?
No. Parking tickets do not need counsel. Typically, they carry no points and they would not appear on one’s DMV record. Many parking tickets issued are local law tickets, meaning that the DMV would not even get word of them. Parking tickets, by and large, do not need representation. That, being said, there is always a caveat. Some people have thousands of dollars in parking tickets. In which case I would recommend that they seek counsel that specializes in parking tickets. The average motorist typically does not need counsel on a parking ticket, but for any other moving violation I’d recommend at least a consultation with an attorney who can answer questions on an individual basis.
What Are the Potential Penalties If I Get Convicted Of A Traffic Ticket?
The potential penalties from a conviction of a traffic offense depends, of course, upon the ticket. But speeding tickets are the most common call for help to my law office. Also, there are frequently calls for tickets for cell phone use, passing a school bus, running a red light, running a stop sign, and other moving violations. The points all differ based upon NYS congress and DMV’s perceived level of severity of the offense, hence, the corresponding penalties.
With a speeding ticket, there are enhanced penalties depending on how many miles an hour above the speed limit you were alleged to be going. One to 10 miles an hour over the speed limit carries three points, 11 to 20 miles an hour carries four points, 21 to 30 miles an hour carries six points, and then 31-40 miles an hour over the speed limit carries eight points. Over 40 miles per hour carries eleven points which is the threshold for a suspension.
Consequently, a person convicted for more than 40 miles per hour over the speed limit is facing an automatic suspension based just on points. Additionally, this can be aggravated substantially if the offender has had prior convictions for speeding within 18 months of that ticket. If they did, they may be facing a minimum six-month revocation of their license or privilege to drive – meaning they will have to outright reapply for their license or privilege (out-of-state motorists) after six months.
As the regulatory agency, the DMV has the right to approve or deny the application. They will look at the motorist’s history and if they feel, based on their calculations and formulas, that this motorist has too many points or too many traffic infractions they may label them as a “persistent violator” and deny them relicensing for a longer period of time that is determined by the DMV itself. This whole process is totally separate from the court and without their oversight.
In the last decade, cell phone tickets have gone from zero to two to three points to the present day five points. I would not be surprised if the penalty increases even further. Motorists should take cell phone tickets very, very seriously. It is the equivalent of failing to yield at a railroad crossing or even reckless driving (which is a misdemeanor crime). These offenses carry five points just the same as a cell phone ticket should give you a clear indication of how seriously the court takes these tickets. People often plead guilty to a cell phone ticket, which is something you should not do. Give counsel a chance to get in there and mitigate the situation for you. It is easy to reach the eleven-point threshold and before you know it you can be facing a suspension based on points or revocation based upon history. That is why it’s best to hire a professional as early as possible in any given Criminal or Traffic Infraction case.
Generally, speaking, moving tickets carry a minimum of three points. For instance, running a stop sign or a red light carries three points and most lane violations also carry three points. Failure to exercise due care is another common three-point ticket. There are some other tickets which carry two points, but there is no single point infraction.
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