If you are wondering whether you need a lawyer for a traffic ticket, we would start by giving you the answer that it seems like most lawyers give to most any legal question: it depends. There are a number of factors that determine whether you need legal help for your traffic ticket. Of course, there are times when it does not make sense to go to the expense of hiring an attorney to fight the ticket. However, in other cases, you could only benefit from having legal help on your side.
The Costs Associated with a Traffic Ticket
Of course, there is a cost to hire a traffic lawyer to help fight your ticket. You need to measure the expected cost of an attorney against the possible consequences of receiving a traffic ticket. Here, there are two major costs for you:
- The cost of the fine
- The possible points on your license
If you have been charged with a serious traffic offense, the cost of the fine alone may make hiring an attorney worth it. The traffic court judge may take your defense more seriously when it comes from an experienced attorney. You may even be able to get the fine reduced by the judge if you defend against the ticket.
Points Can Impact Your Ability to Drive and Your Insurance Rates
The points are an even more serious concern for a number of reasons. The first is that it could impact your ability to maintain your driver’s license. If the offense that you have been charged with has multiple points attached to it, you will have the possible future loss of your license hanging over your head if you are pulled over again.
In Wisconsin, any speeding ticket could result in three points on your license. If you are convicted of driving more than 20 miles per hour over the limit, the penalty is six points. Once you incur 12 points in a 12-month period, you could have your license suspended. Fighting tickets with an attorney is one way to try to eliminate or reduce points that you may be assessed. The traffic court judge has that authority.
Points on your license may also have the effect of raising your auto insurance costs. Any traffic conviction may be reported to your car insurance and could result in a higher rate. Thus, the impact of a fine could be magnified by its effect on your insurance rates. What may even seem like a simple ticket could cost you hundreds more by the time that you are done paying for car insurance.
If your driving record is such that you get a lot of tickets, you should have an attorney every time that you are charged. Again, you have a very real chance of losing your license if you are convicted enough times. You need a lawyer to help fight the points.
Commercial Drivers Benefits from an Attorney
Commercial truck drivers also need traffic attorneys to represent them. For these drivers, operating a vehicle is their livelihood. If they lose this, they will not be able to earn a living. Wisconsin penalizes commercial drivers more seriously for certain traffic crimes. In addition, having a bad driving record could cost the truck driver their job and their ability to get a new one. Wisconsin punishes some commercial driving offenses more seriously than similar ones committed by a regular driver because it expects truck drivers to be even more careful.
Traffic Court Judges May Listen to an Attorney More
There is an edge to having an attorney accompany you to traffic court and make your case to the judge. Let’s face it. Many traffic court judges are jaded because they hear stories every day. Some are on the inventive and fantastical side. They may be a little more inclined to listen to an attorney who comes into their court routinely, who has built up a track record of credibility. You have more of a chance of being taken seriously with a lawyer, and if there is any threat to your driving record, you need to be heard. If your case has any trial, your story may have more credibility when it is told by a lawyer.
There is a way to defend a traffic case in court. Claiming that you did not realize how fast you were going or did not know that you had to stop even across the street from a school bus will likely not persuade a judge. A traffic attorney knows the arguments that are more likely to get a judge to listen from their years of experience in this forum. Usual excuses will not necessarily make a judge sit up and take notice.
An Attorney Could Negotiate if that Is an Option
If you have been charged with a serious driving offense, there may be some negotiation involved. Even without a criminal charge, you may still have a chance to negotiate down the penalties attached to your ticket. An attorney is much better equipped to do this on your behalf because they know the system and how to handle traffic court. They may even sense an opening for some type of deal that could reduce your penalties.
There may be some times when it would not be necessary to hire an attorney. However, when the consequences are anything more than minor, it makes sense to bring on an experienced lawyer who knows traffic court. Otherwise, your finances and future ability to drive could be challenged.
Experienced Appleton Defense Attorneys
If you have been charged with a traffic offense, whether it is a serious moving violation or an OWI, you need legal help. The attorneys at Hogan Eickhoff are experienced counselors who help clients facing civil and criminal traffic charges. Call us today at (920) 450-9800 or contact us online to schedule your free initial consultation. Even if you think that the offense is minor, it is always better to know your legal options.