Do I Need A Lawyer For A Traffic Ticket in Florida?
Many people probably get one or two traffic tickets when they are young and never get another again. If that sounds like you, then you probably don’t need an attorney to represent you for a traffic ticket. My guess is if you are reading this post the person I just described is probably not you. If you have more than a few speeding tickets or you get a traffic ticket once every two years or so, then I would suggest you hire a lawyer for the next one.
Florida Law Getting More Strict
The main reason why I, as a criminal defense attorney, represent people for traffic tickets is to try and help people before a traffic ticket turns into a criminal offense. Yes, I said “criminal” offense. Under Florida law a driver can be arrested and taken to jail for driving with a suspended drivers license. When I first opened my law practice “driving with a suspended drivers license” [DWLS] put more people in the Orange County jail on a daily basis than any other crime.
Many Reasons For The State To Suspend Your Drivers License
The Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles [Department] suspends hundreds, if not thousands of drivers licenses each day. The reasons are numerous. The driver forgot to
- pay a ticket.
- renew registration.
- complete drivers school.
- file drivers school certificate with the Clerk of Court.
- pay child support.
- after paying a late ticket – pay the late fee.
- after paying a late ticket – reinstate drivers license with the Department.
- forgot to pay for insurance.
- after paying for insurance, insurance company forgot to notify the Department.
- check to make sure the Department didn’t make a mistake.
There are many more reasons why the Department can and will suspend your drivers license including by mistake. And even though the law now makes DWLS “without knowledge” a simple citation (no arrest) that does not mean if you tell the police officer who stopped you that you didn’t know he will believe you.
Yes, you can get a DWLS ticket, realize you forgot to register your car, go register it and then pay the ticket and, seemingly, there is no harm done. Unfortunately, you are wrong.
The Habitual Traffic Offender
Sounds menacing. But the reality is you can become a habitual traffic offender [HTO] simply by taking care of your tickets by yourself (not hiring a lawyer). The easiest way and the way most people come into my office for HTO help is to just pay for three “driving with a suspended drivers license” tickets. They have to occur within a 5-year period but the Department isn’t real good with dates either. The problem with being designated a HTO – your drivers license is suspended for 5-years. The first year is a flat out revocation – no driving whatsoever. Not to work, school, shopping, none whatsoever. Getting it “fixed” is also problematic and expensive. More work on my part means higher cost – that is the reality of a law practice (or any job).
So Why Hire A Lawyer For A Traffic Ticket
Main reason is it is very inexpensive. Most attorneys that know what they are doing are charging under $100 for a ticket. What you get is someone going to court for you that can possibly get the ticket dismissed, reduced, and/or keep the points off (saves on insurance and suspensions). Additionally, if you did get one of those nasty DWLS tickets an attorney can usually get that dismissed so that it never counts towards a HTO designation and the fee is still under $100. It all goes back to the old adage “pay a little now and save lots later.”