It has happened to everyone (or at least according to the U.S. Highway Patrol, 41 million people a year): you’re driving along, maybe singing out loud to the radio, when suddenly you see flashing blue and red lights in your rear-view mirror and hear a screaming police siren. Busted! Next thing you know, you’re the latest not-so-lucky recipient of a traffic ticket that costs more than a month’s worth of gas. So, what do you do next? Well, you have several options (although option four is strongly recommended):
Option No. 1: Pay your ticket without electing to attend traffic school
For most traffic infractions in Florida, if you pay your traffic ticket outright without electing to attend traffic school (or plead guilty in traffic court for your offense), you will accumulate points on your license. In Florida, 12 points accumulated within 12 months results in a 30-day suspension; 18 points accumulated within 18 months results in a 3-month suspension; and 24 points accumulated within 36 months results in a 12-month suspension. It’s much easier to accumulate points on your license than you probably think. For example, going 8 miles over the speed limit and causing an accident is 6 points, littering is 3 points, and not properly restraining a child in his car seat is 3 points. Points on your license may not only lead to a suspension of your driving privileges but also a substantial increase in your car insurance premiums.
Option No. 2: Pay your ticket and attend traffic school
For some traffic infractions in Florida, you have the option of attending traffic school to prevent getting points on your license. However, keep in mind that you will have to pay for the cost of the traffic school course in addition to the full price of the traffic ticket, completing traffic school may cause you to miss school or work, and you can only select the traffic school option once within a 12 month period and up to five times in your lifetime. Additionally, if you’re not a great test-taker, be weary of the fact that you will have to pass a test at the end of traffic school to receive credit for the class (and no points on your license).
Option No. 3: Contest your traffic ticket in traffic court without legal representation
After receiving a traffic ticket for a civil traffic infraction, you have the option to plead not guilty and request a hearing. You must then attend a mandatory pretrial hearing where you will have the opportunity to speak to the hearing officer. If your case is not resolved at the pretrial hearing, a trial will be set for a later date where you can represent yourself without an attorney.
Option No. 4 (Your Best Option!): Seek legal representation to contest your traffic ticket in traffic court on your behalf
The easiest and most effective way to avoid getting points on your license for a South Florida traffic ticket is to hire a Miami ticket attorney or a Fort Lauderdale ticket attorney to represent you in traffic court. After setting your ticket for trial, your Miami criminal lawyer or Fort Lauderdale criminal lawyer will do everything in his power to help you avoid points on your license by attempting to have the traffic court judge dismiss your ticket altogether. If the ticket can’t be dismissed, your attorney will try to negotiate a deal for you to pay a fine and get a ‘withhold of adjudication’, meaning you will have no permanent mark on your record and no points on your driver’s license.
Think hiring an attorney to defend your traffic ticket is prohibitively expensive? If so, think again. For civil traffic infractions, hiring a traffic ticket attorney is typically inexpensive. In fact, hiring a ticket attorney may ultimately save you money because your attorney’s fees will typically be less than the cost of missing work due to having a suspended license, attending hearings and court dates associated with your case, attending traffic school or having to pay increased car insurance due to accumulating points on your driver’s license.