29 May 20 Tips: Do I Have to Go to Court for My Traffic Ticket?
20 Tips: Do I Have to Go to Court for My Traffic Ticket?
When you get a traffic ticket, one of the first questions that will cross your mind is if you have to go to court for it. This article, with the help of ny-defense.com, will look to highlight how you should go about deciding whether to fight in traffic court or pay up, as well as what to expect in court if you do decide to go down that route.
Don’t just pay your traffic ticket
Most people find themselves thinking that they would rather just pay the traffic ticket and be done with it, rather than fighting it and possibly having to go to court. However, as discussed at ny-defense.com, you should note that simply paying your ticket comes with additional consequences over and above the fine you may have to pay, including points added to your license, and increased insurance premiums.
Whatever your decision, make it on time
Whether you choose to fight your traffic ticket, which you should in most cases, or you choose to simply pay the fine, you should do it as soon as possible. Remember, there is a time limit within which you can respond to a traffic ticket, and failure to do so may lead to other consequences, including the suspension/revocation of your driver’s license.
It depends on where you received your ticket
Also, the answer to the question of whether you have to go to court for your traffic ticket will depend on where you received your ticket. If it is an NYC ticket, then pleading not guilty means that your ticket will automatically have to be contested in court. Tickets in other parts of New York State don’t have to go to traffic court as you will have a pretrial conference in which you can negotiate a plea with the prosecutor.
It depends on the type of ticket
Depending on the type of traffic ticket too, you might not have to go to court at all. This is because, in some instances, your attorney can go to court on your behalf, which means that you can avoid having to take time off work to attend traffic court as covered at ny-defense.com.
Hire an attorney
You will only get the benefit mentioned in the previous point if you hire a traffic attorney. Hiring an attorney also ensures that you get the best possible outcome if your case goes to court as attorneys will not only understand the law and how court proceedings work, they will also have relationships with prosecutors and judges that may come in handy.
Is your traffic offense a misdemeanor?
If your traffic offense was a misdemeanor traffic offense, then you should know that such offenses are more serious than traffic infractions. They can result in fines and even jail time, but more importantly, can leave you with a permanent criminal record. You will also be required to appear in court in person if you have been charged with such an offense as outlined at ny-defense.com.
Examples of misdemeanor offenses
Examples of misdemeanor traffic offenses include:
Failure to appear on an appearance ticket
DWI or DUI
Leaving the scene of an accident involving a personal injury
Driving without proper registration
Aggravated Unlicensed Operation, etc.
Go to court with an attorney on your side
Regardless of whether you have to appear in court or not, it is best to have a qualified traffic ticket lawyer like ny-defense.com on your side. This way, you don’t risk making a mistake in court which would jeopardize your chances of getting a positive outcome.
Consider taking a driver class
One way you can avoid having to go to court to fight your ticket so that you keep your record clean and avoid points being added to it is by taking a driver class. After you complete a New York Driver Class, you will get 4 points off your driving record as well as a 10% savings on your automobile insurance.
Mistakes are unlikely to get your ticket dismissed
When contesting traffic tickets in a court, many people mistakenly think that minor mistakes on their traffic tickets can be grounds for dismissal by the judge. These include mistakes like getting your name or description of your car wrong. However, you should note that this is unlikely to happen and you shouldn’t bank on it as one of your defenses.
Defenses that may succeed
As articulated at ny-defense.com, the best strategies for fighting a traffic ticket depend heavily on the specific circumstances. For example, defenses to speeding tickets often involve challenging the accuracy of the officer’s speed measurement.
Defenses that rarely succeed
If you attend traffic court, avoid excuses that don’t amount to legal defenses. For example, saying things like, “I was in a hurry to get to work and didn’t realize how fast I was going”, or, “I would have stopped but I didn’t see the stop sign”, rarely results in the judge dismissing a ticket. At best, if the explanation is compelling, the judge may be moved to reduce the fine.
Don’t make it your word against the officer’s
Another common defense that drivers often try is simply disputing the officer’s version of events without providing any reasons or support. When a case comes down to the driver’s word against the officer’s word, the driver typically loses out. As per ny-defense.com, don’t try to suggest that the officer is lying.
The officer will likely show up
Another myth is that officers don’t show up in traffic court and that your case will be dismissed if they don’t. While this may happen from time to time, don’t count on it as in most cases, the officer will show up in court as it is part of their job to appear in court during the trial.
When appearing in front of the judge, it is important, to tell the truth. Judges in traffic court have seen and heard it all, and they can sense when a defendant is lying and will quickly decide to penalize them. Remember, the worst truth is better than a good lie. The last thing you want to do is get caught in a lie by the judge. Hiring an attorney ensures that you don’t find yourself in such a situation as they will better coordinate your defense.
Don’t ask for a trial if you really don’t have a defense
Also, when you go to court, don’t ask for a trial if you really don’t have a defense. Look at the law with which you are charged so that you can see if you have a defense, preferably with the help of an attorney. If you don’t have a good defense, don’t waste the judge’s time as they will likely have many cases that day and won’t appreciate your theatrics. Plead guilty with an explanation.
Cons of pleading guilty with an explanation
When pleading guilty with an explanation, you may not allege you did not commit the offense. As per ny-defense.com, what most motorists don’t realize is that a guilty with an explanation plea is an admission of guilt that results in a conviction and points being assessed. The only benefit of such a plea is that the fine schedule does not apply, and the judge may deviate from the standard fine schedule.
Late not-guilty plea
If you wish to enter a late not-guilty plea, you must do it in person at any TVB location for your NYC ticket. If your license has already been suspended because you failed to answer, the ALJ may continue the suspension until your hearing date or require you to pay a $40 bond for each ticket. The total bonds, however, may not exceed $160.
Situations when you may be required to appear before an ALJ
As discussed at ny-defense.com, you will be required to appear, or have your criminal defense attorney appear, in person before an Administrative Law Judge (ALJ) for your current traffic ticket if:
A conviction on the current ticket will result in a finding that you are a persistent violator
The guilty plea will result in a mandatory license or registration suspension or revocation
You are accused of exceeding the speed limit by 30 MPH or more
The current ticket is your second speeding ticket within 6 months regardless of the speed
The current ticket alleges a violation of VTL 509 and you have two prior convictions for violating VTL 509 within the last 10 years
If you have a junior license (including a junior motorcycle license)
If you have a restricted license
Your license was revoked or suspended at the time you received the current ticket
Based upon the circumstances that led to the issuance of your current ticket, the Commissioner of the DMV requires your personal appearance
What if I’m late for my hearing?
Finally, if you are more than one hour late for your hearing, you will be deemed as having failed to appear. Your license may be suspended until the next hearing date and/or the judge may require you to post a bond.
If you have been handed a traffic ticket in New York, then you should reach out to ny-defense.com for assistance on it as soon as possible.