If you are a licensed driver, chances are you might get a traffic ticket at some point during your life. Maybe you’re driving down the road and you see the familiar lights of the police car behind you, but this time it’s you they’re after, instead of that other guy that sped ahead of you a few miles back. You pull over, have a nerve-wracking interaction with the officer, then go on your merry way, ticket in hand. Here’s the problem though—you don’t believe you were in the wrong. In fact, you decide to fight the ticket. Stress and anxiety wrack your body as you ponder potential strategy, then it hits you: Can you do this on your own or do you need a traffic lawyer to fight your ticket?
If you receive a traffic ticket in Texas, you have three basic choices: Plead guilty, plead not guilty, or plead no contest.
Pleading Guilty: If you plead guilty, you will be expected to pay your ticket and court costs. There may be a possibility of negotiating lower fees by attending a driving school. (More on that in a bit.)
Pleading Not Guilty or No Contest: This option will require an appearance in court in front of a judge. If you win your case, there is a strong probability of walking away without owing a thing, but the burden of proof will be on you. Navigating the system on your own can be a frightening experience with possible negative consequences, so if you are going this route you may want to seriously consider hiring a traffic lawyer to represent you.
In Texas, the court is allowed to add surcharges on top of the normal fees for your ticket, if you are convicted. These surcharges, dictated by the Texas Driver Responsibility Program, are based on points on your license and convictions. And it’s important to keep in mind that you can be charged separate fines for both.
It is sometimes possible to get your ticket dismissed even if you are found guilty of the offense. This will involve petitioning the court for permission to take an approved defensive driving course. Once you receive a conviction you can ask the court for permission to take a course. It must be six hours long and can be taken online. Once approved, you will have ninety days to complete the course and deliver a certificate of completion along with a copy of your driving record to the court. The process can be complex, and you may want to consider consulting a traffic attorney if interested in pursuing this process.
The following will prevent you from taking the defensive driving course to dismiss your ticket:
Even though you can go to court and attempt to fight a traffic ticket without a lawyer, it’s probably not the best idea. At the very least, it’s a good idea to consult a traffic lawyer to see what the possible consequences of your ticket may be (based on points, prior convictions, fines, etc.). This might guide your decision of whether to fight your ticket in court.
In addition, a traffic lawyer will know the ins and outs of the system, and can check the ticket and notes as well as any video that might exist, for inconsistencies and any other information that might help to get your ticket overturned. Finally, a lawyer can help determine if you might qualify for ticket dismissal through the defensive driving program and can work with you to make sure you’re completing all of the steps correctly.
Getting a traffic ticket, especially if you have prior points and convictions, can be scary. There’s no need to face the experience alone. Hire a traffic lawyer who is familiar with the process and can work with you to achieve the best outcome for your situation.
If you are interested in learning more about hiring a traffic lawyer in Texas to fight your traffic ticket, please contact the Law Office of Bell & White today. In or around San Antonio, call 210-374-6292 or 210-584-8538. In or around Del Rio, call 830-212-7382.