Going out on a limb, I’m not sure there is much that infuriates the average joe more than a traffic citation, calling for your swift donation to the local clerk of court. For some of us it happens a little more often, while others it seems, manage to go years without receiving a citation. Most citations can be disposed of by simply paying the citation alone (never a good idea. Stand by for my rationale), participating in a basic driver improvement course, or appearing in court alone or hiring an attorney to handle the citation for you.
The worst thing you can possibly do is pay your citation without taking the necessary measures to avoid points being assessed to your driving record. If you are assessed points on your record this will negatively affect you in two or more ways. Accumulation of points over different periods of time can act to suspend your license. Accumulating 12 points in 12 months will act to suspend your driver’s license for 30 days, 18 points in 18 months will suspend you for 90 days, and finally 24 points in 36 months will shut you down for an entire year. Grinding more salt into the wound, it is possible, depending on certain circumstances that ticket accumulation and/or a combination of criminal citations and civil infractions could act to suspend your license for 5 years under Florida’s Habitual Traffic Offender statute. For the vast majority of our clients, this is not the main concern and typically license suspension resulting from point accumulation is not an issue. When you are so graciously gifted the statutorily assessed point total for paying your ticket, your insurance company will be notified and without a doubt, they will increase your insurance premiums. So, simply put PAYING THE TICKET ALONE = ADJUDICATION OF GUILT = POINTS = INCREASED INSURANCE RATES. Got it?
Another option is taking a 4 hour basic driver improvement course which will act to decrease your ticket price by 18% for most tickets and will prevent points from being assessed. This is a great option for most, and in fact I have counselled several existing clients and several more potential clients to simply take this course as it is a guarantee. One can elect to take a 4 hour driving school once every 12 months and up to 5 times in their lifetime. One drawback to taking the driving school is that one is never afforded the opportunity to beat their ticket outright through their day in court. For many, this is imperative as they zealously contest the allegation found on the ticket. If you are an out of state driver, be very wary of this option in Florida. It is possible that you could successfully complete your driving school and validly submit it to the applicable Florida Clerk of Court. Florida may in fact not transfer points to your out of state DMV, only to have your home state not honor the driving school you sat through. For the out of state driver, the best bet is to hire local counsel to handle the citation.
Lastly, and my favorite option, hire an attorney to ensure that you receive no points, or better get the ticket dismissed completely!! Florida is a state full of busy people. Whether you work 40-90 hours a week, nose to the grindstone like the rest of us, or you have paid your dues and now wish to pass the time on one of our many beautiful golf courses or cast a line in the big pond that surrounds our state, for a good portion of Florida’s residents their time is worth more to them than the fee paid to an attorney to handle their ticket. Who wants to spend 4 hours in a class or in front of a computer when you can bee reeling in a hard charging Tarpon? Problem solved! Hire me. If not me, there are several very competent Florida traffic attorneys that can protect your driving record and get a result that will benefit you from the point accumulation stand point and from insurance companies attempt to spike your premiums. Additionally, if you’ve been the lucky recipient of a citation following an accident, at least contact a traffic attorney to investigate your options. If there was serious bodily injury reported, you are facing a mandatory 3 month suspension. Recently I was able to negotiate with an officer to drop that portion of the infraction in exchange for a heightened fine. My client kept her license and gladly paid the slightly increased fine. It is worth your while to speak to an attorney when this is the case. If there is an accident but no injury, likely the officer didn’t witness the crash. If this is so, the only way Officer Friendly can prove you were at fault is to subpoena the other party in the accident. Quite often the other party will not show up to court which means your ticket will be dismissed for failure to show you were the at fault party.
So, the moral of the story with respect to ticket-town, is that you will likely benefit from at least contacting a competent traffic attorney. Often you can get a pretty good price for representation and may not even have to take a driving course to keep the points off. Good luck!