police car at night with red and blue lights on

If you drive long enough, eventually you will see flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror.  It’s unavoidable.  You know it’s true.  In fact, you should probably consider yourself lucky you don’t get more tickets.  If you’re being honest, you are like most people in that you probably do something wrong every time you get behind the wheel. 

Continue reading “Worst Thing To Do When You Get A Traffic Ticket”
old woman judge

As I was sitting in court today I had an opportunity to watch not only the other traffic attorneys, but the unrepresented people (that would be the people who choose to fight a ticket themselves and not hire a lawyer), and I noticed something interesting.  Anyone can get ONE traffic ticket dismissed.  Here’s how.

Continue reading “How To Get Traffic Tickets Dismissed in Florida”
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.

driving in the rain

Summer is here in Florida. How do I know? Well for starters, the heat coming from my car door when I open it rivals my oven and by the time I’ve finally cooled off, I’ve reached my destination.

How else do I know that summer is here? How about the daily storms that pop up every afternoon just as rush hour is about to hit.

This is the time of year when we see terrible storms, and driving through them can cause everyone to grip the wheel just a little bit tighter. In case you’re not sure what to do when it rains and you’re behind the wheel, here are a few reminders from Smartmotorist.com:

  • Slow Down (this one should be obvious)
  • Stay towards the Center Lanes (the water tends to move away from the middle)
  • Keep the Proper Distance from the Car in Front (3 Second Rule)
  • Avoid Sudden Movements including Slamming on Your Brakes (you can lose control of your vehicle)

But let’s say you did all of those things and for some reason, you still managed to get into an accident, and to make matters worse, you are the one that got the ticket for careless driving.

A normal accident ticket is bad enough, but in a storm, you have to sit in your car while it’s pouring out and wait for an officer to hand you a careless driving ticket that’s going to cost you money and possibly points on your license.

I hear you. Breathe. One more time.

We’ve got you covered. Accident tickets can come in many forms, but whether it’s careless driving, its more serious relative known as reckless driving, or one of the many special hazard tickets (following too close or driving too fast for conditions), there are defenses you can use to try and get the ticket dismissed and keep the points off your record.

First and foremost, if the police officer did not see the accident (as most do not), this is a huge advantage for you. The police officer is the one who the judge is going to rely on to “put you behind the wheel” and explain what you did wrong. And most of the time, people are only able to testify to what they saw or heard, not what someone told them (that’s called hearsay). Therefore, if the officer didn’t witness the accident unless they have special skills in accident reconstruction, they will not be allowed to testify against you.

So now that that officer is out of the way, that leaves anyone else who may have seen or heard something. Usually, what’s left is a person who was either involved in the accident or a passerby. In both of those situations, you are usually dealing with a person who isn’t very comfortable testifying in court or who just isn’t aware of all the technical aspects of what they must testify to, in order for your ticket to stand.

What I mean by that last paragraph is that police officers are trained in many things, and one of them is how to explain to a judge what a person did wrong after they have written a ticket. The judge can’t act as a prosecutor on behalf of the state, therefore, the person testifying on the state’s behalf (the police officer or other witnesses) must be able to meet the elements of the charge. Most non-police officers have no idea what they are supposed to say and as a result, can’t meet the specific elements.

Most people who were involved in an accident testify like this, “I was driving along, and out of nowhere this (fill in the blank) came and hit me.”

The problem with that explanation, is that they did not identify the driver in any way, nor did they prove to the court that the defendant was driving. That usually results in a “win” for the defense.

If you did get a ticket for careless driving or any other moving violation in Florida, and would like a FREE consultation, please give me a call at 866-374-8355 and I or my staff will be happy to help you.

5 questions you must ask before hiring a traffic attorney graphic

One of the first phone calls I received after graduating from law school was from a friend of mine who said, “I just signed a contract, can I fax it to you to take a look at it?.” Of course, my answer was “No” because there was no point in me looking over something that had already been signed. What could I have done if I saw things I wanted to change?  It was too late, as the document had already been signed.

When I decided to focus on becoming a Traffic Ticket Attorney, I soon realized I would have the same problem.  People called me all the time and asked if there was anything they could do with the ticket they just paid.

Unfortunately, my answer was also “No” because once you pay a ticket, you are either going to get points, or you are going to have to attend traffic school, or you are going to end up paying a hefty fine.

Again, too many people were too late.  So, I’m hoping this article catches you BEFORE you make the mistake of just paying it.

One of the reasons I chose to become a Traffic Ticket Attorney was the opportunity to help as many people as I could.  I’ve been very fortunate over the years to have helped hundreds of thousands of clients with all types of traffic ticket related matters.  Of course, in almost all of those situations, the client contacted me before taking an action that could not be undone.

Therefore, when you or someone you love gets a ticket (and let’s be honest, it’s really a question of when, not if) whatever you do, don’t rush into anything. For most tickets in Florida, you are given 30 days before you have to decide what to do.

By all means, take your entire 30 days. There’s no prize for deciding early.

As long as you don’t wait until the time has expired (which might mean that you have to pay more money, but not that you can’t still fight the ticket), you will be in the exact same boat if you decide to fight the traffic ticket the day you received it or the last day you were still eligible to notify the court of your decision.

So, now that we’ve established that you have time, let’s discuss what you should do with the time.

The first thing I tell people is to take a deep breath.  Forget about the ticket for the rest of the day (if you can).  Getting all upset and letting it negatively affect the rest of your day is not going to help you make the situation better.

In fact, when you go to sleep and wake up to realize the planets didn’t collide and the world kept spinning, you will probably have the ticket in a little better perspective.

It’s not the end of the world, just something you have to deal with.

And deal with it you will. By doing the very first thing I always recommend, which is doing a little bit of research into finding a local traffic ticket attorney in your area.

Let’s be honest. Who knows more about the ticket you received and what you can expect than a traffic ticket attorney? If you call the right one.

As much as we all have a friend who “swears” he’s got a guy who knows a guy who’s mother is best friends with the chief of police and gets all of his tickets dismissed, there’s just no better resource for your ticket than a local traffic ticket attorney who goes to court every day doing nothing but tickets.

The last part of that sentence was very important because believe it or not, there are plenty of attorneys who put “traffic ticket attorney” on their marketing material, but don’t really do this as a major or exclusive part of their practice. They put that down to try and make a few extra dollars by taking cases they plan on passing off to someone at the last minute who doesn’t really have your best interest at heart. That’s not the kind of Traffic Ticket Attorney I’m talking about.

Before you hire ANY traffic ticket attorney, you must read a post I wrote that will give you the 5 questions you must ask BEFORE hiring a traffic ticket attorney.  Only then will you be prepared to make the best decision that’s right for you.

Basically, any honest traffic ticket attorney should tell you what will happen to you if you pay the ticket, pay the ticket and elect traffic school, or what will probably happen to you if you fight the ticket.

Only by knowing your options can you decide what to do. Many times, my office ends up telling people to just pay the ticket because there’s no sense to hire an attorney for some matters. We are in the business of helping people and the right decision is obvious when you consider all the options.

My office offers a FREE CONSULTATION with an attorney (not just a secretary) to anyone who calls our office at 866-374-8355. Go ahead and call, you might learn something for FREE.

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.

No u turn sign

We’ve all been there. Not exactly sure where we’re going, looking on both sides of the street for an address, and when we spot it, it’s on the other side of the street and we’re going in the opposite direction away from it.

And, of course, we’re late.

What to do?

You quickly weigh your options, look around and decide to do it.

An Illegal U-turn.

As you sit waiting for the cars to pass so you can turn, you again take a quick look around, and turn the wheel as fast as you can hoping not to get caught.

But, I ask you, do you know if the U-turn you just made was legal or illegal? Do you know how to tell the difference?

In actuality, in Florida, it’s fairly easy to tell. Most U-turns are, in fact, legal.

Here’s what you need to know.

The Florida Statute on U-turns is 316.1515 and it’s very short and easy to read.

Basically, what it says is that you can make a turn in the opposite direction (a U-turn), on any street, as long as it can be made safely and without interfering with the other traffic.

However, there is also one additional thing to consider.

You have to make sure there is no sign saying that you cannot make a U-turn. Sometimes they use fancy language and say things like “U-turn Prohibited” and sometimes it’s a picture of an arrow in the direction of the U-turn you are about to make along with one of those red circles with the line through it, made famous from the movie Ghostbusters.

At any rate, the sign is really the main thing to look out for. No sign, you should be OK, as long as you do it safely and don’t get in anyone’s way. Watch out for pedestrians as well. Sometimes, they are walking along and don’t expect a car to make a U-turn.

The worst thing to happen, is that you get the ticket for making an illegal U-turn. Not only will you be even later to your appointment, but if you don’t fight the ticket and just pay it, you will end up with points on your license.

As a reader of this blog, you know how I feel about just paying a ticket and taking points (hint: always fight your tickets).

If you received a ticket for an illegal U-turn and want to fight it with a traffic attorney whose law firm has fought over 500,000 tickets, feel free to call 866-374-8355.

couple in convertible with map

Seeing as the 4th of July is right around the corner, and people will be taking summer driving trips in record numbers this year, I thought it was a perfect time to discuss the topic of what to do with an out of state speeding ticket.

It’s important to know that there is something called the Driver License Compact, which basically is a collection of states (there are only a few states that do not participate) that have agreed to share information between each other as it relates to traffic tickets, including speeding tickets.

In a nutshell, what it says is that the states that form the compact will agree to share information between each other; and if you get a ticket in one of the states, it will be treated as if it were received in your home state, as long as the violation exists in your home state. 

So if you happen to get a ticket in another state for something wacky like driving a black car on Sunday (supposedly illegal in Denver . . . look it up) and your state doesn’t have that law, then the violation won’t transfer.

However, if you get a speeding ticket, and every state has a speeding ticket statute, then you will have to deal with it.  And dealing with it should not mean paying it.  The points will transfer to your home state and your insurance will probably increase.

My advice?  Look into fighting it.  It’s simple enough to do. Get on the internet and find a local traffic ticket attorney who will give you a realistic opinion of your case and the expected outcome and fee.  It must be fought in the place the ticket was given. So if you don’t want to drive back to defend yourself, a traffic attorney is the perfect solution.

Whatever you do, don’t let an out of state speeding ticket ruin your summer vacation.  Get out there and enjoy that road trip.

If you want to speak to a Florida Traffic Ticket Attorney, give us a call at 866-374-8355.

police car red and blue lights

Nothing can ruin your day faster than seeing flashing blue lights pull up behind you.

You go through a range of emotions starting at disbelief (Is he pulling me over?) to shock (You can’t be serious?) to denial (I wasn’t doing anything wrong) to despair (This sucks) to anger (I’m fighting this with my traffic attorney) all in the time it takes you to pull to the side of the road and hand over your license.

All of those emotions are perfectly normal, but what many people are confused about is what to do when stopped by police. Because when the police pull you over, there is a certain protocol you should follow to ensure your safety and that of the officer.

Running out of your car screaming, “It wasn’t me, didn’t you see the other guy!” generally isn’t recommended. In fact, sudden movements are generally a big no-no, especially at night when there is less visibility.

What’s important to keep in mind is that the more comfortable you appear and you make the police officer feel the more likely you may get a reduced ticket, or no ticket at all.

Here’s a short list to teach you what to do when you are stopped by the police.

  • Slowly and safely pull over to the side of the road.
  • Stay in your vehicle unless instructed to get out.
  • Don’t make any sudden movements. Keep your hands in plain sight.
  • If you have any weapons in the car, it’s always better for the officer to hear it now, instead of discovering it after the car’s been searched.
  • Don’t unbuckle your seat belt. If you need to unbuckle it or move to get something out of the car, ask permission. (If you unbuckle it too early, you may get a ticket for not wearing a seat belt)
  • Last, and this is up to you, you may want to consider turning on your cell phone camera to record everything. I’m not sure what good it would serve, but if the officer testifies in court that you had a bad attitude, this may be used as evidence to the contrary.

Always remember to be polite and respectful. It never hurts and you just might find yourself getting lucky and not getting a ticket after all.

If you have a ticket and want to fight it with a Florida traffic ticket attorney, we’re always happy to give you a free consultation. Just call us at 866-374-8355.

ARTICLE UPDATE: 2/25/19

Since this post was written, much has been happening in the Red Light Camera Ticket world. First of all, the Florida Supreme Court ruled in Jimenez v. State, on May 3, 2018, that the cities are within their rights to have these cameras installed and issue tickets. As soon as that ruling came down, it caused a huge blow to our (and all attorneys) ability to fight them. Basically, once that ruling came down, the courts had to allow the cities to write tickets and it made it nearly impossible to fight them successfully.

Now, I say it’s almost impossible to fight “successfully” it is because it has always been our philosophy at Unger & Kowitt to only charge people money to fight them IF we firmly believe that we can beat them and get them thrown out. Once that ruling came down, it became obvious that Courts were no longer going to allow the attorneys to make motions or arguments to get cases thrown out. Therefore, in almost every instance, we stopped handling these types of cases.

The one exception is if you received a Red Light Camera Ticket and forgot about it, or missed your deadline to pay the $158. If that did happen to you, your notice of violation automatically turned into a Uniform Traffic Citation and now you must pay $277.00 AND you will receive a mark on your driving record. We are fighting those mainly to keep the adjudication from appearing on your driving record, which we can do. But again, if you have the option of paying $158, we still recommend that at the moment because it’s the better and cheaper option.

If you notice, I did write “at the moment” because as you write this, new challenges are being made to the way some cities are ticketing drivers. Mainly, those making a right turn on red, and I believe those will be successful soon. As soon as that’s the case, I will blog again and keep you posted.

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In the giant scheme of things, getting a traffic ticket for running a red light, doesn’t have to ruin your day. In fact, as I tell my clients if this is the worst thing that has happened to you, you’re doing pretty good. It’s all about perspective. In fact, you might look at it as a slight reminder to slow down, take an extra 5 minutes, smell the roses sort of thing.

Sure getting a ticket is annoying, but it doesn’t have to be the huge pain you might think. And it doesn’t have to mean a pain in the wallet either. The first thing you need to do is determine what type of ticket you received.

A ticket for running a red light can come in two forms. You can either get a ticket from an officer who pulls you over, or you can get a camera ticket in the mail. They are both different and must be dealt with differently.

A traffic ticket from a police officer carries points and is a more “traditional” type of ticket. The police officer pulls up behind you, turns on the flashing lights, and your heart sinks. As he slowly walks over to your car, all you can think of is how to try and get out of it (by the way, that topic is covered here). Unfortunately, in most instances, you can’t get out of it and are stuck with the ticket.

No worries, really, it’s going to be okay.

You have three options, but two of them aren’t in your best interest. As I’ve written about before, you can either pay it and get points, pay it and go to school, or fight it. Whether you fight it with a traffic attorney or fight it by yourself, fighting a ticket is the only way to get it dismissed. There are legal defenses that can be used for running a red light, only by fighting your ticket, can you take advantage of them.

Now the other type of ticket you can get for running a red light is from a camera. These “camera” tickets are the latest and greatest (according to the cities that put them in and have them generating revenue 24/7) but have loads of constitutional issues that make them unpopular (and, if you ask me, illegal too).

In Florida, one of the ways the legislature was able to pass these red-light cameras through, was to take the element of points out of them. So, even if you pay it, you will not get points. That’s the good news. The bad news is that if you pay it within 30 days, you will pay $158.00 (ouch) and if you pay it 30 days after that, you will have to pay $277.00 (double ouch).

Of course, just like a red light ticket from an officer, the way to avoid paying the fine is to fight it. Successfully fighting a red light camera ticket is different than fighting a ticket from an officer, but it can be done. In fact, we do it all the time.

There are a whole host of issues that can be raised with a camera ticket ranging from whose name is on the vehicle registration, who was driving, who is the owner, was the driver turning or just flying right through?

The important thing to remember is that just because you were pulled over, or received a ticket in the mail, doesn’t mean you have to let it ruin your day (or your insurance premium).

Knowing you can fight it, and knowing that you aren’t stuck with the points, will go a long way towards your peace of mind. There are too many more important things out there to really worry about.