traffic light with three green lights

Attention all procrastinators out there. Broward County is offering a deal too good to refuse. From now until March 16, 2019 (this Saturday), ANYONE who has a conviction for a felony, misdemeanor, or ANY traffic infraction that resulted in court costs and you failed to pay and now have additional fees (from a collection agency) you need to check this out. The Clerk is waiving those additional fees. That’s right. The Clerk is giving you a chance to avoid paying any additional fees because you didn’t pay on time. This waiving of fees will result in up to 35% off your current outstanding balance. WOO HOO!!

If you had an additional statutory late fee added to your original fee, that will still be in effect, BUT, anything extra that was tacked on from a collection agency is being waived.

Who knows if the Clerk will ever offer this again? If this applies to you, run don’t walk to the courthouse and take care of this. After Saturday, your collection fee just went back up 35%. It can be a chance to get your license back if your reason for still having a suspended license is that you haven’t had enough money to pay the debt.

The best part is this offer is good no matter how long you’ve had this outstanding balance. The only small catch is that you must pay it off in full. You can’t get the benefit of the savings and go on a payment plan (listen, you may think the Clerk is dumb, but they’re not stupid).

You can use any method of payment and you can do this at ANY of the four courthouses in Broward County. You can also pay online at the Clerk of court website, https://www.browardclerk.org. For more information, call the Clerk’s office at 954-831-6565.

Frustrated woman wo did not pay traffic ticket on time

One of the most frequent questions we are asked is from panic-stricken clients who call us with fear dripping from their voices. They ask, “What happens if I miss the deadline to pay a ticket?” Well, we’re happy to say the world doesn’t end. However, missing a deadline is not good and will eventually result in negative consequences.   But all is not lost.

Depending on how badly you missed your deadline, you can still fight the ticket.  It just may cost a little more.

All the options you had initially: 1. Pay the ticket and take the points. 2. Pay the ticket and go to traffic school, or 3. Fight the ticket — may still available to you depending on the county.  Most Florida counties will still work with you up to 180 days after the date of incident.

Better than that, you still have time to hire a traffic ticket attorney to fight on your behalf. Who, if he or she does their job right, can usually get the best possible outcome. No Fines, No Points, and No Court Costs.

Remember, traffic citations are big business in Florida. The state wants you to pay the traffic ticket without making a fuss. They’re happy taking your money within 30 days or, even better, the higher amount for a late payment.

Just because the “deadline” for paying a ticket has passed, don’t let the higher amount scare you into paying and running without thinking through your options.

What you absolutely have to remember if you haven’t paid the ticket by the due date is that you MUST TAKE ACTION IMMEDIATELY. The worst thing to do is continue ignoring it. If you do, a simple speeding traffic ticket turns into a major headache. Here’s how:  

By doing nothing, the state will eventually suspend your driver’s license. That could actually result in your getting arrested. If you are stopped by police for any reason and they find that you have a suspended license you can be thrown in jail.

The key is not to let your traffic ticket get to that point. The good news is that just because you are “late,” it doesn’t mean you have to pay or face going to jail.

To recap, the best thing to do is take action by contacting an attorney who specializes in traffic tickets and get a handle on the situation.

Unger and Kowitt will be glad to talk and walk you through your options. Call us at 866-374-8355.

teddy bear wearing a seat belt

The question of whether you can get pulled over by a police officer for not wearing a seat belt gets asked quite a bit by clients, and because the law has flip flopped, I can understand the confusion.  Prior to 2009, if a police officer saw you driving without your seat belt, he could not pull you over. You could have waved to him with your seat belt off and there wasn’t much he could do about it.

But in 2009, then Governor Charlie Crist signed into law the ability for police to pull you over if you are not wearing your seat belt.  In doing this, seat belt enforcement went from what’s called “secondary” enforcement to “primary” enforcement.

Now we all like to think the Governor was looking out for the residents of Florida because we all know seat belts save lives and by allowing officers to pull people over, the hope was that more people would buckle up and stay alive.

The reality is, that was probably a nice byproduct, but I’m sure the real reason was that by changing the law, Florida became eligible to receive up to 35 million dollars to promote highway safety.

“What did they do with all this money”, you may ask?  Well, let’s look at two things that we all know promote highway safety that they didn’t do.  They didn’t bring back auto inspections that would get all these cars with bald tires, no windshield wipers and no working headlights off the roads.  Additionally, they didn’t repeal the law that lets people ride motorcycles without helmets.

Oh well, so much for public safety.

Of course, back in 2009 (all of three years ago), seat belt tickets only cost $30, which seemed reasonable.  However, much has changed in the past few years, and what seemed quaint like a $30 fine has now gone up. . . . wait for it . . . .almost 400%.

Yes, you read that right.  In less than 3 years, a ticket for not wearing your seat belt has gone up 400%!!!!!!!  This was during the worse economic period in our lifetime.

The truth is, a seat belt ticket, if it’s the only ticket you receive is around $120.00, but it doesn’t carry points, as it’s a non-moving violation, so you should just go ahead and pay it.

However, if your seat belt ticket came with a moving violation that carries points, and you would like to fight it, please feel free to give us a call for a FREE consultation regarding your case.

judge judy sitting on the bench in her court room

Traffic court is not the kind of place you want to walk in not knowing what to expect. It can be intimidating and confusing and if you’re like most people, if you’re not comfortable, you won’t be at your best. And make no mistake about it, not being at your best in traffic court can cost you a lot of money.

Because I’m here to help, I’ve put together three traffic court tips you must know and should use every time you walk in. And when I say “every time,” I don’t mean to insinuate that you get a lot of tickets, but for even one ticket in South Florida, you will have to go to court a minimum of 2 times if you want to go to trial.

So here are my 3 traffic court tips

  1. Know what type of hearing you are attending

  2. Research and know exactly what you were charged with

  3. Get there early and listen, listen, listen to everything being said

The first tip might seem a little confusing, but not every court hearing is for the same purpose. Usually, court hearings have a name that gives some type of description as to what they are. For traffic court in south Florida, there is a Pre-trial conference and a trial.

Every Pre-trial conference always has people excited because they don’t see the officer that wrote their ticket, and because of that, they are assuming it will get dismissed. What they don’t realize is that there are NO police officers in the courtroom because police officers are not required to attend a pre-trial conference. It is not your trial where evidence is going to be presented, so there is no point to the officer being there. It is a time for legal motions or changes of plea.

The next tip may also seem obvious, but many people don’t realize what they are in court for. They think they were charged with speeding, but never really took the time to look at the ticket and research it online to see that not all speeding tickets are alike. Many times, an officer will be nice and charge someone with a ticket for failing to obey a traffic control device (a lesser charge) and the defendant is talking in court about how they weren’t speeding. You have to look at the statute and do a little research to see what the state must prove.

Lastly, by showing up a little early, you will have an opportunity to get a good seat up front. No, this isn’t a Broadway show, but by sitting close, you will be able to hear what is being said by the attorneys who are representing other people. There aren’t that many different types of traffic laws, so there is a good chance, you might hear an attorney saying something about a case that is similar if not identical to yours. Only by listening will you be able to pick up something that might help you with your case.

If all of this seems overwhelming, or if you just prefer to let the pros handle it, you can always call an experienced traffic attorney. If you have any questions, you can email me at [email protected]