Most of the time, when people get traffic tickets, they pay whatever fine is associated with the offense, even if they believe it isn’t justified. The prevailing attitude seems to be that fighting a traffic citation simply isn’t worth the trouble or the expense.
That’s unfortunate because there are often good reasons for choosing to contest a traffic offense.
Traffic tickets have little to do with highway safety. Their primary purpose is to generate revenue, according to the National Motorists Association. “No other class of ‘crime’ is as profitable for state and local governments as is that of traffic tickets,” the association explains.
Only 5 percent of speeding tickets are contested in court, according to data from statisticbrain.com. The total amount paid for fines for speeding tickets exceeds $6.2 billion annually and if you include numbers from other traffic infractions, the total would be tens of billions.
There are many reasons why fighting traffic ticket makes sense, explains Bellingham attorney Ziad Youssef. Here are some factors to consider.
It can be a big deal
That first speeding ticket might not seem like a big concern. But perhaps you get a second moving violation a few months later for a different infraction like failure to yield. Or maybe you are in an accident and you get two citations at the same time.
Unlike many states, Washington does not operate under a driving record point system. There are penalties for repeated violations, however, that can include driver’s license suspension or even revocation, according to dmv.org.
Traffic citations are costly
While fines for moving violations like speeding, negligent driving, failure to yield, etc., are expensive and inconvenient, added charges for court costs and increased insurance rates can easily push the cost of a speeding ticket to hundreds of dollars or more. A DUI or impaired driving conviction will cost thousands and you can lose driving privileges.
Enlisting the assistance of an attorney skilled in dealing with traffic cases can often get your charges reduced or eliminated. In the end, that saves you money and may protect your reputation and driving record.
A primary reason for not choosing to fight a traffic citation is the hassle factor. Drivers worry they will have to take time off work and show up in court. That issue has largely been alleviated through the mytrafficman.net Pick It for Your Ticket app. Using your smartphone, you can sign in with your Amazon account. The app makes it simple to hire an attorney to file your ticket electronically and fight your ticket. In most cases, you don’t even need to appear in court. Your attorney will handle your court hearing.
Your odds are good
While no attorney can guarantee he will be able to get your traffic ticket dismissed, Youssef says, “I’ve had a great success rate over the last six years, and I’ve developed arguments that work under the greatest of pressure.”
Even when he can’t get a citation dismissed, Youssef reports he can usually negotiate a deal that will keep the driver’s insurance rates from increasing by converting the ticket to a lesser offense.
It’s your right
The constitutional right to a fair trial is essentially stripped from drivers.
“Our system of justice is based on the principle that people are considered innocent until proven guilty, but drivers — and vehicle owners in cases involving automated enforcement — are frequently presumed to be at fault and then subjected to administrative hearings that rubber-stamp guilty verdicts,” notes the motorists association. “This denies them basic rights such as discovery, trial by jury and often the ability to question their accuser.”
Next time you are cited for a traffic infraction, instead of paying the assessed fine and accepting the increased insurance rates, consider consulting an attorney who focuses on traffic cases. There is a good probability you will save money and perhaps even preserve your good driving record.