So you got a traffic ticket and are thinking about your next move. Hopefully, you've already made the smart decision to fight your ticket. In many ways, the decision to fight your ticket is an easy decision to make. The harder decision is to whether to fight the ticket by hiring a lawyer or by yourself.
Let's analyze both options and help you make the best decision that's right for you.
There are 3 main things you need to consider.
- Experience (yours and the attorneys)
Every time you spend your money, price is always a consideration, and this is no exception. Obviously, fighting a ticket yourself is free. Attorneys usually charge less than $100 for traffic ticket defense, but you can't beat free. Advantage here goes to fighting it yourself.
The next factor you should consider is time. Maybe you are retired (or don't work) and have the time it will take to go to court. In many cases, you will have to go more than once. In South Florida, there are generally three court appearances necessary, (arraignment, pre-trial, trial) and you must factor in the time spent driving to and from the court, and the time that you will sit there waiting for your case to be called. The average wait time in court is 1-2 hours depending on when your case is called. (Again, remember you may go to court 2 or 3 times)
Now, compare the time spent by doing it yourself, to the time spent hiring an attorney. In many cases, you can hire an attorney for a traffic matter in about 15 minutes. This ones easy, advantage goes to hiring a lawyer.
The last thing you must consider is whether you will know what to do when you actually go to court. This is where experience comes into play. Like everything else in life, the more you do something, the better you get at it.
You've seen tv shows with court scenes in them, and it looks pretty easy. The judge calls on you and you start speaking. Can you do it? Yes, but the real question is whether "can you do it WELL." Or, for purposes of this discussion, "can you do it better than an attorney?" The answer to this is maybe. You are going to need more information.
Before you hire an attorney, you need to ask a lot of questions and find out what the attorney knows. Has the attorney ever been in traffic court? (you should know, not all attorneys go to court) Has the attorney ever fought a traffic ticket? Has the attorney ever fought the kind of ticket you have? If so, how many? If the answers to these questions don't convince you that you are in good hands, you might not be. My advice, keep looking.
Depending on where you live, there is probably an attorney who has handled thousands, (possibly hundreds of thousands) of traffic tickets EXACTLY like the one you have, and as a result, has accumulated tremendous knowledge that can be put to good use on your matter. (Shameless plug: Our firm has handled over a million traffic tickets since 1995) Advantage here goes to hiring a lawyer.
When you take these three things into consideration, the answer becomes obvious. Hiring a lawyer will definitely save you time and allow you to have an experienced advocate arguing on your behalf. Isn't that worth a few dollars?
Share your thoughts
Did you ever fight a ticket yourself? Were you pleased with your decision? How much time did you spend in court? Have you ever hired an attorney? Were you happy with your results? Do you think they would have been different if you had gone yourself? I'd love to hear what you think.