This is one of the most frequently asked questions I get on calls into my office. The answer is, as with most things dealing with the law, it depends. There are a couple of questions I ask all potential clients when they call in to discuss a traffic-related matter:
(1) How does your driving record look? If your record is clean over the last five years, and you’ve got a simple speeding ticket, most courts will give you the option of doing driving school in order to have the ticket dismissed. If you are in a more rural jurisdiction that is not keen on the driving school for dismissal exchange, your clean driving record will still, generally, go a long way with the judge. It might persuade him to give you a break and dismiss it outright, or he could amend the charge to an improper driving or something of the like. If your record isn’t that great, you have an increased need for the services of a lawyer. Depending on the amount of points on your record, another traffic ticket conviction could adversely affect your insurance rates or, if the record is bad enough, could lead to the suspension of your license. A local traffic attorney will be able to assist you in keeping another adverse traffic result off of your record.
(2) What year is your car, and how many miles are on it? Why does that matter, you say. Well, the older the vehicle and the more miles that are on it, the greater the likelihood that there are some discrepancies in the speed your speedometer says you are going, and your actual speed. If you have a GPS device in your vehicle, you’ve probably noticed that it lists your speed of travel somewhere on the screen. If your vehicle is older, or has a lot of miles on it, you may have also noticed that the speed the GPS device is showing is off from the speed showing on your speedometer by three or four miles per hour. This could be a sign that your vehicle is in need of a calibration, which isn’t something most folks go and get done on a regular basis. A calibration showing that your speedometer was off at the time of your infraction is a beneficial tool when going to court to fight the ticket. If you are comfortable articulating that position to a judge, you are probably just fine going by yourself to dispute your speeding ticket. However, if standing up in a courtroom and arguing your case with a judge sounds like the most terrifying proposition imaginable, you would benefit from hiring a local traffic attorney.
Regardless of whether you end up hiring a traffic attorney or not, call around and talk to a few of them before you go to court. Most traffic attorneys do a free phone consultation and after doing your due diligence, you may find you feel more comfortable having an attorney represent you in court. If not, at least you covered all of your bases before deciding to go at it alone.