Traffic Tickets Lawyers
What to Consider When Hiring a Traffic Ticket Lawyer
If you have received a traffic ticket, you might not immediately think of hiring a lawyer. These cases are usually less serious than ordinary criminal cases, and the penalties are less harsh. However, if you decide to challenge your ticket, you may want to hire a lawyer. This is especially true if you have accumulated many tickets, which means that your license may be suspended or revoked due to the violation. A traffic ticket attorney will be familiar with the distinctive procedures in traffic court, and they may spot grounds for a defense that may not be obvious. Drivers often pay tickets without realizing that there may be ways to keep points off their record while avoiding fines and increased insurance premiums.
Deciding who is the right lawyer for you can be challenging. A basic Google search can be a good place to start, but this should be only a first step. Google searches will lead to a wide range of results, including many paid listings that do not necessarily reflect the skill of a lawyer or their aptitude for your case. Similarly, you might gain useful insights from talking to friends or family members who have hired a traffic ticket lawyer, but the right fit for them may not be the right fit for you. Each situation is unique. Here are certain guidelines that can help you knowledgeably research and compare attorneys.
Background and Experience
Often, a lawyer handles traffic tickets as part of a general criminal or DUI practice. While you do not need to hire an attorney who handles only traffic tickets, you should hire an attorney who has spent enough time in traffic court to be comfortable there. Ideally, you should aim to hire a lawyer who has experience representing people who have received tickets similar to yours. For example, if you got a ticket for making an improper turn, you may want to hire a lawyer who knows how to investigate a scene for obstructions, poor sign placement, or other factors that might cause a driver to unknowingly break the rule. If you are a commercial driver, you should hire an attorney who is familiar with the tighter rules that apply to your profession. Some attorneys may have relevant board certifications or memberships in professional organizations. They may have received awards or other formal recognition of their legal prowess.
Your attorney should be familiar with the procedures in the court where your case will be heard. This can make a huge difference because important rules are often specific to a certain court. An attorney with local connections also may be familiar with individual judges in traffic court, which can shape their defense strategies. Moreover, the police officer who issued the ticket can play a key role in the proceeding. A local attorney may have encountered an officer in a previous case and may know whether and how to attack their credibility as a witness.
In general, you should aim to hire an attorney without a history of serious disciplinary issues. Information about an attorney’s professional record can be found by searching for them on the state bar website for their jurisdiction. You may want to review the details of any disciplinary action to get a sense of the events leading to it. Some violations are less significant than others. You may not want to automatically remove an attorney from your consideration based on a very minor infraction if they are currently in good standing.
On the other hand, a record of serious violations should be a red flag, even if the attorney has achieved some good results. You do not want your attorney to make an egregious mistake that prevents you from pursuing an otherwise viable defense strategy.
Reviews and Testimonials
Reviews by previous clients can give you a sense of what it would be like to work with an attorney. You may find insights into their personality, level of professionalism, and communication skills. Client reviews can be helpful even if the details of your case are different from a previous client’s case. However, beware of very brief reviews that are harshly negative or effusively positive without providing details. These reviews may not be trustworthy.
If an attorney has received favorable reviews from other attorneys, this may indicate that they have a strong reputation in the legal community. They may be more likely to be respected by traffic court judges, prosecutors, and officers, which can help resolve your case more favorably and efficiently.
Often, a traffic ticket lawyer will discuss their most notable successes on their website or blog. Each case is decided on its own facts, so you should not assume that you will receive the same outcome as a previous client. However, a history of dismissals and reduced citations for people in roughly similar situations to yours can be a promising sign. You may also gain insight into the cases in which an attorney performs most impressively if many of their strongest results involve the same type of situation.
Some traffic ticket lawyers offer free consultations to prospective clients, while others offer consultations at a reasonable cost. You can set up a consultation by phone or online after providing some initial details about your case. The consultation helps the client and the attorney decide whether they are the right fit for each other. Even if you are impressed by an attorney’s credentials and achievements, you should not choose them on that basis alone. Instead, you should make sure to work with a lawyer whom you can trust and who relates well to you. You should feel that your lawyer is personally invested in your case, rather than treating you as just another case number. Ideally, you should set up consultations with several attorneys before deciding whom to hire.
Bringing a list of questions to the consultation can help you decide whether an attorney is the right fit. For example, you may want to ask about the range of outcomes that they believe are likely in your case. You should not expect a precise answer, but a general impression can help set your expectations. An optimistic answer may be encouraging, but you should think twice if an attorney makes guarantees or seems much more confident than their competitors. They may be overpromising. Also, you should listen to how the attorney explains their evaluation. They should be able to articulate their reasoning in a way that is coherent and accessible to a non-lawyer.
Fees are another important issue to address at the consultation. Many traffic ticket lawyers charge hourly fees, while others may charge a fixed fee for a certain type of case. In some cases, an attorney will ask a client to pay a retainer fee, which is an upfront payment. If the costs of the case fall short of the retainer amount, the rest of the retainer fee may be refunded to the client. Any fee arrangement should be clearly set out in the representation agreement so that you understand your obligations.
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