Traffic violations are the result of breaking local or municipal traffic ordinances. Violations can be minor, such as parking in a loading zone, or more serious, such as reckless driving, driving without a license or insurance, speeding or running a stop sign or even having an accident. When an individual violates a traffic law, a police officer issues a traffic citation/ticket. This ticket is a citation that may require him or her to appear in court before a judge or magistrate.
Prior to appearing in court, the individual is allowed to remain free; however, failure to appear in court or pay significant fines can result in a warrant for his or her arrest. For less serious civil infraction the State of Florida provides a point system that imposes point on individuals driving records for a period of three years or longer. The amount of points can range depending on the seriousness of the traffic offense. Ultimately, if a driver accumulates enough points their driving privilege will be suspended and/or revoked. More importantly, point means higher insurance rates and possible rate hikes and/or cancellations.
In Florida, when a person is cited for a traffic violation to avoid point they have two options
1) Attend Traffic School,
2) Fighting the ticket
Most people are concerned with receiving points on their driver’s license, since that is how insurance companies determine your rates for the coming years. Points on a driver’s record, can affect your employability and your credit rating. This aversion to “points” is usually what motivates people to run and sign-up for driving school.
However, there are a few misconceptions about traffic school. If you want to elect traffic school, you must:
1) Pay for the ticket,
2) Enter a plea of no contest and
3) Pay the cost of traffic school.
You must, also attend the traffic school within a short period of time after signing up. Florida allows drivers to elect traffic school five times in a lifetime. However, you can only attend the 4-hour course once a year. After attending the 4-hour course in one year, you attend either the 8 or 12 hour course.
Many people think that by electing traffic school, they are ensuring themselves a perfect record and this is not necessarily the case. The worst part about electing traffic school other than time and money is that the citation will appears on your driving record.
FIGHTING A TICKET
The most prudent option is to have The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran fight the ticket in Court. By pleading ‘not guilty” you are ensuring that you will be given an opportunity to have evidence presented on your behalf at your trial. Either you or your attorney can do this. For civil traffic infractions, the appearance by the defendant is often times not even required as long as the defendant gives permission in writing for an attorney to appear on his/her behalf.
At a trial, the defendant or the defendant’s attorney can view all the police officer’s paperwork and make appropriate motions based on the ticket or the paperwork. There are many legal and technical defenses for every type of traffic violation.
The key is to knows which defenses to assert for each type of offense.
The most common type of violation is speeding. There are a variety of ways a police officer can determine how fast you are going, and not all of them involve radar. A police officer can use their police car to pace your vehicle, also an aircraft can be used along with VASCAR, which utilizes a time/distance computer to determine speed, and of course, the officer can use a radar. Most defenses for speeding infractions are based on the validity of the police officer’s equipment.
In other words, is the device used by the police accurate, and has it been checked for accuracy within the time allotted by the Florida Statutes.
GENERAL TICKET DEFENSES
The problem for many people is that they do not realize that most traffic infractions are violations for which an individual’s mental state is not relevant. As a result, it is not a defense to argue in Court anything relating to “why” you did what you are charged with doing. For example, it is not a defense to a speeding ticket to argue that your speedometer was broken, or that you were on your way to the hospital because you did not feel well. Any reason as to why you may have been speeding is essentially deemed irrelevant in Court as a defense.
The question the judge will have is very simple-Were you speeding? If the answer is yes, regardless of the reason, you do not have a defense. You may have very good mitigating circumstances, but that is not a complete defense to the charge. Many people try to argue that their speedometer was broken and therefore had no idea they were going as fast as the officer said they were. Again, this is related to mental state and is not allowed as a defense to speeding. The frustration usually begins for people when they attempt to argue things in court that they honestly believe the judge needs to hear in order to render a decision in their case. Unfortunately, what people want to tell the judge and what the judge is allowed to take into consideration is not always the compatible.
When confronted with this problem, it is never a good idea to then begin telling the judge what you think of the judicial system or the police. It only gives credibility to the officer when you begin your tirade. Many people hire The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran so that their emotions do not get involved and so that they can have an advocate arguing their legal points the way the court would like, but realize the emotional involvement would make it difficult for them to do so.
You must remember to always maintain a sense of decorum when in court, even if you don’t agree with what is happening. Usually, if you are polite, most judges will at least allow you to tell your side of the story, again remember it may not be relevant as a defense but it may used as a mitigating factor. Generally speaking, most clients who hire The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran to fight their traffic infraction will not receive points and will not have to attend traffic school if they have not received an infraction on the previous two years.
Let the professional handle your ticket and fight back.
After the trial, you are usually told by the judge what was determined — if you were guilty, not guilty, ordered to pay court costs, a fine, or attend traffic school or any combination thereof. If you would like to appeal, there are forms available in the clerk of court’s office; however, keep one thing in mind, there is usually very little to appeal.
If you did not make a proper record of the trial and document it properly, the appeals court will have nothing to consider. Therefore, hiring a professional and letting the The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran team fight for your rights. Most attorneys who handle traffic matters are not as expensive as you would think because most do not charge an hourly rate, but rather by a flat fee. Therefore, you can find out in advance how much it will cost you to hire The Law Offices of Pelayo Duran.
If you have an infraction your appearance is often times not necessary. Therefore, you can have an attorney arguing for you in Court and not have to miss any time out from work. It is one of the better legal “bargains” available and it should be considered.
The foregoing is not intended as an exhaustive review of traffic ticket laws in Florida. This information is not to be regarded as legal opinion applicable to all circumstances. Each factual scenario is different and requires unique and individual advice. The information provided herein should not be relied upon and any person with inquiry or concern should consult an attorney.