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”
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.

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.

cartoon that says don't pay that ticket

Regardless of what our government would have us believe, these are tough times, and they don’t look like they are going to be getting better anytime soon.

No one seems to have any extra money laying around, and the last thing anyone needs is an unexpected speeding ticket with a bill that can easily exceed $250.00. If you were unlucky enough to get pulled over, (and you didn’t read my article giving you tips on how to avoid getting a ticket if you are pulled over by the police), you’re probably wondering how you’re going to manage to pay for it.

Well, what if you didn’t have to pay for it at all or could delay paying it for almost a year? Would you want to know how to get out of paying a speeding ticket? And this tip isn’t just for speeding tickets, it’s for all traffic tickets issued in Florida.

As you know, when you get a ticket in Florida, you only get 30 days to tell the court how you wish to proceed.

Basically, you can pay the ticket within 30 days and get points. You can pay the ticket within 30 days, elect traffic school and pay for that as well. Or you can choose option 3, which is to fight your ticket.

In past articles, I’ve given many reasons why I feel fighting a ticket is your best option. Most of the reasons are based on not getting points on your license (which will cause your insurance to increase), and the intense desire of most people to avoid attending traffic school (and having to pay for the school).

However, never have I explained how choosing to fight your speeding ticket could also have an immediate economic benefit. Here’s why.

Most of the courts are backed up as a result of layoffs at the clerk’s office, and because they have more tickets than they can process, are not setting matters for court until 2-3 months after the citation was written. What that means for you, is that you can get out of paying for your speeding ticket for the first 29 days by going to the clerk’s office and having your matter set for trial, and then you will also not have to pay it for the next 2-3 months while you wait for a court date.

In other words, the day before your ticket is due, if you elect to fight your speeding ticket (by pleading “not guilty”), you will not have to pay for it. Your matter will be set down for court and you will get a letter in the mail with an upcoming court date (usually 2-3 months after the date you plead “not guilty”).

Now in Miami-Dade, Broward and Palm Beach Counties, the first court date is your pre-trial conference, not your trial. Technically, you can delay having to pay for your ticket for ANOTHER 2-3 months by attending your pre-trial conference and maintaining your plea of “not guilty.”

Your matter will be set for trial and then you have 2-3 months before you have some decisions to make. So for your scorecard at home, so far, you’ve delayed having to pay anything for 4-6 months from the date you received your ticket. Not bad.

I would hope that during this time you’ve been saving your money, because at some point, you may have to pay the piper. I say “may,” because so far all you’ve done is delay your paying of your speeding ticket.

The final decision on what to do, now must be made. Do you want to walk into the clerk’s office and tell them you’ve changed your mind and want to pay it? If so, you will have to pay the original amount and take the points (not my first suggestion, but hey, at least you’ve been able to keep your money an additional 4-6 months after the original deadline, so stop complaining).

However, you can also decide to stick with your decision to fight your ticket (my suggestion for most tickets). This can be done by yourself or with an experienced traffic attorney. If you’re not sure if you should pay it or fight it, you can read this article I wrote.

Most traffic attorneys will represent you for less than $100 and in many cases, either get your matter thrown out (in which case you’ll pay nothing for the ticket), or reduce the amount you would have had to pay and keep the points off and keep you out of traffic school.

But here’s another benefit. By fighting your ticket, if you do have to pay court costs, you will usually get additional time to pay. So, in theory, if you’ve pushed everything off by fighting your ticket, you may not have to pay that speeding ticket for up to 7-9 months after you received it. By then, hopefully, you’ll be in a better position to make the payment.

Final note in all this, whatever you do, don’t ask for a continuance unless there is a valid reason why you need one. By asking for, and receiving a continuance, you’ve eliminated one of your defenses if you choose to fight the ticket. If you want to know which one, click the link below about how to get out of a speeding ticket.

If you’ve decided to fight the ticket and want a traffic attorney to assist you, my office will be happy to give you a FREE consultation at 866-374-8355.

CLICK HERE FOR MORE GREAT TIPS ON HOW TO GET OUT OF A SPEEDING TICKET

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.

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.

One of my main goals on this blog is to educate the public on all things relating to traffic tickets. Part of that goal sometimes requires me to let you in on the “dirty little secrets” being propagated when I learn about them.

Well, I was recently reminded of something that has been going on in this industry for a while and it’s time you learned the truth.

When you hire a traffic lawyer, your ultimate goal should be to have your traffic ticket dismissed. There’s no shame in that. It’s what you’re paying for. As a traffic attorney for over 17 years, I am painfully aware that it is my client’s and my firm’s number one goal.

However, as much as we try, there isn’t an attorney in the world who handles traffic tickets that gets them all dismissed. But if you read some of the letters sent by some traffic attorneys to their clients after their case was resolved, you would think some of these attorneys get every case dismissed.

But here’s the rub: One attorney’s version of a traffic ticket dismissal is another’s change of plea. Confused yet? I’m not surprised.

Oh what a tangled web we weave when we first practice to deceive. (Somewhere my 9th grade english teacher is smiling)

What I have always known, but couldn’t verify (until recently) is that some traffic attorneys are changing the plea of their clients in court from “not guilty” to “nolo contendere” (no contest) and receiving court costs in exchange.

In and of itself, that’s no big deal, but here’s the dirty little secret. Those attorneys are telling their clients they got their traffic ticket dismissed.

Liar, Liar, Pants on Fire!!! (somewhere my 6 year old is smiling)

Wow! These attorneys are lying to their clients all in an attempt to garner some goodwill or positive feedback. The troubling part is many clients don’t even know they’ve been lied to. They inform me their prior attorney got their last speeding ticket dismissed and they only had to pay court costs of $200.00

Here it is in plain English folks. If your traffic ticket is dismissed, you do not have to pay anything to the court.

Nada, Zilch, Nothing.

It’s like it never happened. There will be no record of it because it was dismissed. In a perfect world, you’d get a letter from the police officer and the clerk’s office apologizing for wasting your time.

Sorry to burst your bubble, but if you pay money to the clerk’s office, your traffic ticket was not dismissed. In addition to paying the money to the clerk’s office, you also have a mark on your driving record (which you wouldn’t have if it was dismissed). This can be troubling if you have done this multiple times as your driving record is not as clean as you think it is.

I’d love to tell you the attorney probably just made a mistake when he notified you of your result, but then I’d be lying too.

If you have a ticket and want an honest assessment of your case and possible outcome, give me a call at 866-374-8355.