The following article was authored by Israel B. Garcia, Jr, a Houston TX attorney with 3 locations within the Houston and Bellaire area. More information about Israel can be found on his website http://garcialaw.com/.
I was in court the other day and was sitting there and a thought came to me, which was how people who don’t hire a traffic ticket attorney, or who hire the wrong one, have their traffic ticket case handled in court. Unfortunately, a lot of people have this “hope the cop doesn’t show” plan. This is not a wise plan.
And yet, everyone I talk to seems to have a story about “beating their traffic ticket” themselves. It got me wondering, “Are people better off hiring a traffic ticket Lawyer for their traffic ticket or doing it themselves?”
Like most things in life, the answer is, “it depends.”
How much do you value your time? What kind of ticket do you have? How important is it to you if you don’t get the case dismissed (or if it doesn’t get handled properly)?
All of these things play a factor in helping you decide what’s right for you and ultimately if you should hire a lawyer or walk into court and just “wing it.” Because, if you’re being honest, that’s what you would do if you did it yourself. And there’s nothing wrong with throwing caution to the wind sometimes, as long as you know the consequences.
It’s analogous to hiring an electrician, plumber, or other pro…it depends on the complexity of the task
I certainly don’t hire an electrician every time I need to change a light bulb. To me, it’s all about measuring the downside risk. If I screw the light bulb in wrong (is that even possible?) the worst thing that can happen is the light doesn’t come on. If that ever happened, I’m sure I would keep trying until I got it right. Conversely, anything having to do with electrical wiring, I’m bringing in the pros. No need to risk electrocution just to try and impress the wife.
Well, the same thing holds true for a traffic ticket. There are some tickets that are akin to changing a light bulb. Meaning, the downside risk is minimal and it’s hard to screw it up.
If it’s simple, the downside is low, and you have the time, then do it yourself
If you received a ticket for having a tail light out (or any other equipment violation) or if you were lucky and the officer pulled you over for something major and only gave you a ticket for not carrying your driver’s license, you can go to the clerk’s office with proof and get a decent result.
It’s possible a good attorney can get a better result, but the fee involved might make it a wash, and realistically, you’d be no worse off doing it yourself, if you had the time.
That’s one of the big reasons to hire an attorney. There is no doubt that everyone’s time is valuable. Some more than others.
If you are recently retired and “looking” for something to do, by all means, head down to the clerk of court and check the place out. In many instances, you don’t even have to go to the clerk’s office and can handle things online. Great. Again, if it’s a ticket that you won’t be harmed by just paying and moving on with your life, you should keep your life simple.
If there is a real impact on your life, don’t just pay it, fight it
However, not all tickets can or should be paid. Basically, if they are going to affect your insurance or impact your life (i.e. moving violations), you should not just pay it. You should fight it.
Make sure you check with your home state’s law as it relates to points on your driving record. Not every state will transfer the points if you are driving from one state to another. Some do and you need to know if you live in one of those states, but if yours doesn’t, then paying the ticket won’t harm you. If you receive a Traffic Ticket in your state, it is best to check with an attorney or your local DMV to see what points are assessed for a particular violation.
I guess the point I’m making is, I work a lot of traffic tickets—in fact some people refer to me as a Traffic Ticket Attorney—and I feel most people should fight their tickets. But, not every situation warrants hiring an attorney. Weigh the consequences and decide for yourself if it’s worth it.