If you received a traffic ticket, you have to make the decision about whether it is worth your time and money to fight the ticket or if it would be better to simply pay the fine. You should carefully consider this decision if you are concerned about your driving record or your insurance rates. Most of the cost of a ticket comes later – in those increased rates or loss of opportunities because of a poor driving record. Furthermore, certain convictions in the right combination can lead to the suspension of your driver’s license.
Why Not Take Diversion Right Away?
Many courts offer some sort of traffic diversion program. Diversion usually requires you to pay a fee and attend a traffic safety class. The eligibility requirements for diversion are different in every court (and some courts don’t offer diversion). To be eligible for diversion, you usually must have a clean traffic record for several years and not have recently participated in any other traffic diversion. You’ll also need to keep a clean traffic record during your diversion. If you don’t, you’ll be convicted.
So why not take the diversion right away? While no one plans to get another ticket, it’s best to be prepared. Taking the diversion now – on a case that you may be able to otherwise win – will prevent you from being able to take diversion on another ticket down the line.
Why You Should Get an Attorney
Tickets can be difficult for the government to win. The police officer has to follow very specific procedure in stopping you and issuing the infraction. Some officers don’t understand or misinterpret the law.
Tickets can also be difficult for you to win. Often, if it is your word against the officer’s word. You have fewer rights than when facing a criminal charge. You have the right to discovery (finding out the evidence against you) but getting it can be surpisingly difficult. You don’t have the right to a jury trial – a judge will decide your guilt or innocence. The burden of proof is lower – the charge only has to be proved by roughly 51%. You also don’t have the right to an attorney.
Technicalities in Traffic Tickets
Defending traffic tickets can be highly technical. Take, for example, the technical requirements for an Oregon photo radar ticket to be valid:
- Was the photo radar vehicle properly marked?
- Was it manned by a uniformed police officer?
- Was it used within a city authorized by statute to use a photo radar system?
- Was it used in a residential area or a school area or another area properly designated by the governing body of the city?
- Was it used for more than 4 hours in any one location?
- Was it a closed access roadway?
- Was a photo radar sign properly posted?
- Was the citation completed properly?
- Was the citation served properly?
- Was the radar unit properly maintained and calibrated?
- If not, how will you prove it to the court?
It can be very difficult for a defendant to navigate these sort of technical issues. Contact me, an experienced traffic ticket attorney to sort through it all for you and put together the best defense possible.
You Can Lose Your License from Traffic Tickets
Traffic infractions can cost you your license. While you may be dealing with your first violation, you should keep in mind that with a little bit of bad luck, it can be very easy to rack up enough tickets to merit a restriction or suspension of your license.
Oregon uses a Driver Improvement Program. It is a two-tiered program. If you get three traffic tickets (“driver improvement violations”), three preventable accidents or a combination of the two that total three, DMV will put a restriction on your license for 30-days that will prevent you from driving between midnight and 5:00 a.m. unless certain conditions apply. If you get four within a 24-month period, DMV will suspend your license for 30 days.
DMV uses a slightly different system for CDLs. DMV will suspend a CDL for certain traffic crimes. It will also suspend your CDL if you get two “serious traffic violations” within three years. A serious traffic ticket includes a simple speeding ticket if it is 15+ mph over the limit. Check out my look at the new Serious Traffic Violation rules.
Washington uses a similar points system. Only moving violations count as points.
You’ll be placed on probation if you get 4 moving traffic tickets in a 12-month period or 5 moving traffic tickets in 24 months. DOL will suspend your license for 30 days if you receive 2 more moving violations during your probation. Furthermore, you’ll have to go through an additional year of probation after you reinstate your license.
DOL will simply suspend your license for 60 days if you get 6 moving violations in 12 months.
What to do?
An experienced traffic ticket attorney will be able to analyze the law and the specific facts of your case to determine if you have a chance of beating the ticket. Winning a traffic ticket can be tough on your own – contact me to discuss your options.