Legal Options of Motorists Who have been Issued a Traffic Ticket

Apr 04

Legal Options of Motorists Who have been Issued a Traffic Ticket

In some states, traffic tickets serve as a citation and a summons to drivers to present themselves at a traffic court, where it will be determined whether they are guilty of the traffic violation they have been cited for. In other states, however, traffic tickets serve as a notice to drivers or owners of vehicles that a penalty, which may take the form of a fine or deduction of points, has been or will be made against him/her; failure to pay this fine can result to prosecution or to civil recovery proceedings for the fine.

A traffic ticket is issued by a traffic law enforcement officer to a motorist who will be caught violating any traffic law; it is issued to cite either a moving violation or a non-moving violation. A non-moving violation refers to a traffic offense involving a non-moving or stationary vehicle. Some examples of non-moving violations include:

  • Parking in front of a fire hydrant or at expired meter;
  • Parking in a no parking zone;
  • Parking without a permit at a spot reserved for handicapped individuals;
  • Staying too long in a parking area that has a time limit;
  • Broken or missing mirrors; and,
  • Excessive muffler noise.

Moving violations, on the other hand, are violations of any traffic law by a vehicle that is in motion. Some examples of these include, but are not limited to:

  • Speeding
  • Driving under the influence (DUI) of illegal drugs or alcohol;
  • Running a stop sign or red light;
  • Turning into a wrong lane;
  • Failure to use turn signals; and,
  • Driving a car with burned-out headlights

Motorists who want to contest a traffic infraction can make a proper request to the courts for a hearing, which can be before a magistrate or judge. Hearing dates can often be continued and witnesses or police officers can be subpoenaed. Involved motorists may also be represented by their respective attorneys who can defend them against the traffic infraction they are charged with. Being represented by an attorney may be beneficial to a motorist because an attorney would better understand how to contest an infraction in any given state or municipality.

After a traffic ticket has been issued, a motorist usually has 10 to 15 days to mail to the court that has jurisdiction over his/her case a plea of guilty, not guilty or “nolo contendere” (“nolo contendere” is a plea of no contest; this is neither a denial nor an admittance of a charge).
A motorist may also request either a mitigation hearing or a contested hearing rather than make a plea.

Though a driver, who has been issued a ticket, admits to having committed the violation he/she was cited for, this admittance is actually for a chance to explain to the judge the circumstances that made him/her commit the violation. Though a judge may reduce the amount of fine, he/she will not dismiss the ticket. For a ticket to be dismissed, the ticketed driver should rather request for a contested hearing.

Before paying any fine, making a plea, or requesting either a mitigation hearing or a contested hearing, it will be wise for a ticketed driver to first consult a traffic attorney, who knows how to contest an infraction. The fact is he/she may not be guilty at all, or the circumstances may have been exaggerated or misunderstood by law enforcement.

To keep ticketed drivers away from fear, more so, worry, the Truslow & Truslow law firm says, “No matter the violation, seasoned traffic attorneys can help them navigate the court system in order to achieve the best result possible. These traffic attorneys will also strive to protect involved drivers’ license and rights, and this includes other traffic related charges, including: moving violations, reckless driving, speeding, driving under the influence (DUI), driving under suspension (DUS) and ABC violations (open container).”

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