four people drinking at a bar

Did you know that getting a traffic ticket and paying it, which will result in points on your license, can be used by your previous employer to deny your unemployment benefits?

Sounds crazy, but it’s true. Under HB 7005, a new law that allows employers to consider “misconduct” outside the workplace, has been interpreted to include receiving a traffic ticket as a legitimate reason to deny benefits after employment.

Obviously, it might depend on what your current employment is, but experts have agreed if you are a school bus driver, and you get a DUI, you can not only be fired, but your boss will use that as an excuse to not pay you the benefits you’ve accrued. In the same scenario, a speeding ticket in a school zone, on a day off, being used against you, is not a stretch.

All this basically goes back to what we preach here all the time, which is to “ALWAYS FIGHT YOUR TRAFFIC TICKETS.”

No matter how insignificant you think a ticket may be, don’t realize after the fact that what you thought was a minor momentary lapse in judgment, was in fact, something that will have lasting side effects.

If you received a traffic ticket and are thinking of fighting it yourself, please read my post where I explain the pros and cons on fighting a ticket yourself or hiring an attorney.

simpson's character in a panic

So you got a traffic ticket and are thinking about your next move. Hopefully, you’ve already made the smart decision to fight your ticket. In many ways, the decision to fight your ticket is an easy decision to make. The harder decision is to whether to fight the ticket by hiring a lawyer or by yourself.

Let’s analyze both options and help you make the best decision that’s right for you.

There are 3 main things you need to consider.

  1. Price
  2. Time
  3. Experience (yours and the attorneys)

Every time you spend your money, price is always a consideration, and this is no exception. Obviously, fighting a ticket yourself is free. Attorneys usually charge less than $100 for traffic ticket defense, but you can’t beat free. Advantage here goes to fighting it yourself.

The next factor you should consider is time.  Maybe you are retired (or don’t work) and have the time it will take to go to court. In many cases, you will have to go more than once. In South Florida, there are generally three court appearances necessary, (arraignment, pre-trial, trial) and you must factor in the time spent driving to and from the court, and the time that you will sit there waiting for your case to be called. The average wait time in court is 1-2 hours depending on when your case is called. (Again, remember you may go to court 2 or 3 times)

Now, compare the time spent by doing it yourself, to the time spent hiring an attorney. In many cases, you can hire an attorney for a traffic matter in about 15 minutes. This ones easy, advantage goes to hiring a lawyer.

The last thing you must consider is whether you will know what to do when you actually go to court.  This is where experience comes into play. Like everything else in life, the more you do something, the better you get at it.

You’ve seen tv shows with court scenes in them, and it looks pretty easy. The judge calls on you and you start speaking. Can you do it? Yes, but the real question is whether “can you do it WELL.” Or, for purposes of this discussion, “can you do it better than an attorney?” The answer to this is maybe. You are going to need more information.

Before you hire an attorney, you need to ask a lot of questions and find out what the attorney knows. Has the attorney ever been in traffic court? (you should know, not all attorneys go to court)  Has the attorney ever fought a traffic ticket? Has the attorney ever fought the kind of ticket you have? If so, how many? If the answers to these questions don’t convince you that you are in good hands, you might not be. My advice, keep looking.

Depending on where you live, there is probably an attorney who has handled thousands, (possibly hundreds of thousands) of traffic tickets EXACTLY like the one you have, and as a result, has accumulated tremendous knowledge that can be put to good use on your matter. (Shameless plug: Our firm has handled over a million traffic tickets since 1995) Advantage here goes to hiring a lawyer.

When you take these three things into consideration, the answer becomes obvious.  Hiring a lawyer will definitely save you time and allow you to have an experienced advocate arguing on your behalf. Isn’t that worth a few dollars?

Share your thoughts

Did you ever fight a ticket yourself? Were you pleased with your decision? How much time did you spend in court? Have you ever hired an attorney? Were you happy with your results? Do you think they would have been different if you had gone yourself? I’d love to hear what you think.

map of the united states

With all the driving people are expected to be doing over this holiday weekend, I thought it would be a great time to revisit a prior post about what happens if you get a speeding ticket in another state and how that affects your driver’s license.

Obviously, this article is titled for people who got a speeding ticket in another state, but the information is just as relevant if you received any out of state traffic ticket.

The most important thing to keep in mind is that just because you drove into another state that is different from your “home” state, and you got a ticket in another state, it doesn’t necessarily mean the points will transfer to your home state driver’s license. This is really the most important part to be concerned about.

As you know, points are the main thing to be worried about. They can cause your license to be suspended and they can cause your insurance to increase. If you take nothing else away from this article, let it be that “POINTS ARE BAD” and you don’t want points on your license.

If you have a Florida driver’s license, and you receive an out of state ticket from any state (besides Florida obviously), if you pay the ticket, you will receive points on your Florida driver’s license if the violation is an offense that carries points in Florida.

For example, if you receive a speeding ticket in another state, and you just pay the ticket, Florida will treat that ticket as if it were received in Florida AND put points on your driver’s license.

Now, as a reader of this blog, you would NEVER just pay a ticket (I hope you are nodding in agreement here), as we’ve covered the many reasons why. Now we can add yet another reason why that’s such a terrible idea. Because even if you aren’t in Florida and get a ticket, Florida will treat that traffic ticket as if it was given in Florida, and you will get points on your license if you pay it.

What makes this matter confusing, is that it does not work the other way around. Meaning, if you are visiting Florida, and you have a driver’s license from another state, and get a ticket in Florida, the ticket does NOT automatically transfer to your home state. You must check with your home state to see how you will be affected.

Here’s a bonus tip for all you New Yorkers who visit Florida in the winter. New York will not transfer points onto your New York driver’s license if you get a ticket in Florida. Does that mean you should just pay a Florida traffic ticket if you get one? (I hope you are nodding with me here) NO!

Just because your home state isn’t going to put points on your driver’s license doesn’t mean the ticket won’t appear on your record and that doesn’t mean your insurance company won’t raise your rates. That’s why it’s so important to ALWAYS FIGHT YOUR TICKETS.

Again, every state is different and you need to check with your Division of Motor Vehicles for your home state.

I hope that clarifies some of the confusion regarding out of state traffic tickets. Of course, if you are still confused, or just want to fight your ticket, you can always click here.

motorcycle policeman giving a traffic ticket

Doesn’t it make you nuts when you’re driving along and look over at the car next to you and because the windows are tinted so dark, you can’t see the driver or anyone else in the car?

According to the AOA accessories trend report, window tint is the second most popular add-on at the car dealer just ahead of floor mats.

In Florida, it seems every car has tinted windows, but some cars, clearly are window tint tickets waiting to happen.  You can generally make the tint on your car as dark as you want, but if you don’t want to encourage the police to stop you and give you a window tint violation ticket, I suggest you ask your installer how dark you can go before it’s ticket time.

If you have been diagnosed with Lupus or similar medical conditions which require a limited exposure to light, you can make the tint as dark as you want, because Florida Statute 316.29545 exempts you from receiving a ticket for tinted windows.

Which window you tint can play a big factor in whether or not you receive a ticket.  The windshield the driver sees out of cannot have any window tint past a certain point (presumably the point at which a person can see out the window).  The rear side and back glass also have their own set of rules and regulations.

Without getting too technical, the tint you choose cannot block more than 25-35 percent of the light, depending on which window you decide to tint. But worse than the amount of light that is passing through is the appearance of the window tint.

In almost every instance, getting a window tint ticket is the result of committing some other violation that caused the police to pull you over (i.e. speeding), and depending on your behavior, they may or may not look for other tickets to write. However, most police are absolutely going to stop you if you have the windows tinted so dark they can’t see anything inside.

Of course, if you read this blog on a regular basis, you should know one of the factors that can cause you to receive higher court costs is your attitude towards the police officer.  Therefore, I’m sure you would never do anything to cause the officer to write you an additional ticket, like one for a window tint violation.

But just in case, click here. We’re here to help.

Want to know how to beat a speeding ticket in court? In prior blog articles, we’ve explained that no matter what type of ticket you received, the number one thing you must do in court is BE PREPARED. We’ve also discussed how speeding tickets are the most common tickets given out anywhere.

Well, today, we are going to get more specific and a little technical, because this article (the first of a two-part series) is going to tell you how to beat a speeding ticket in court. It’s in two parts because I want to give you so much great information. Here’s the first part (with a bonus tip thrown in).

  • Figure out how the police officer determined the speed
  • Look at the paperwork created for your speeding ticket
  • If you are unable to look at the paperwork, how to use that to your advantage

  • Once you determine HOW the speed was measured, you need to know that there is paperwork for each type and that the paperwork for each device is a little different. What’s the best way to see the (evidence the officer will use against you) paperwork? Simple, you need to ask. It really is that simple. However, this must be done with care. In Florida, the rules of traffic court generally do not allow for reviewing things very far in advance, but since you legally have a right to see evidence the government will use against you, (and the police officer knows this) if you ask politely, most police are very happy to show it to you.

    If you come across an officer who gives an attitude and doesn’t want to show you anything, don’t argue. You can use this to your advantage in front of the judge, but you must remember to drop your ego and any attitude. If you want any sympathy later from the judge, you must look like the poor little victim being bullied by the big, bad police officer (which you can’t do if you start screaming and demand to see all paperwork NOW!!!).

    If the police officer won’t show it to you, just wait until your case is called and politely explain to the judge that you were curious as to what device the officer used to determine your speed (you are legally entitled to see it) and that when you asked the police officer to show it to you, he became very angry and refused. Tell the judge you’re not sure why the officer reacted that way because IF you saw that the paperwork was all in order, you MIGHT not contest the ticket. By doing this, you are showing proper respect for the police officer and the judicial system. The judge should appreciate that you are not demanding the ticket be dismissed, but being respectful and also knowing your rights. Re-read those last few sentences carefully. The words you choose are very important. If you do it right, the judge will order the police officer to show you the paperwork and call another case while you take a look.

    Notice I didn’t tell you to tell the judge that when the officer shows you the paperwork, you will not contest the ticket any longer. That’s not true and you should NEVER lie in court. But, by not forcing the officer to show you exactly what will be used against you in court, you are making his/her job easier, and playing right into their hands. I know after reading this blog, you know better than that. Be respectful, be knowledgeable, and be prepared and you will have a fighting chance.

    Be sure to continue to Part II, where I provide more information on how to beat a speeding ticket in court.

    Without question, the single biggest mistake I see people make when they try and beat a traffic ticket in court, is failing to prepare for their trial.  We’ve all seen television shows with trial scenes and as entertaining as they can be, they couldn’t be further from reality.  Yes, even Judge Judy isn’t realistic.  Any trial, whether it’s a murder trial or a traffic ticket trial, must follow proper court procedure. 

    The first thing you must know is that, in Florida, the state has the burden of proving the case against you.  If they can’t do that, the matter will be dismissed.  Simple enough.  If there is no one to testify about what you might have done wrong, the judge will have no choice but to throw the matter out. 

    When you do show up, don’t get excited because you don’t see the police officer at your first court hearing.  I’m sorry to tell you, but in South Florida, your first actual court hearing does not require a police officer to attend.  It’s called a “pre-trial hearing (or pre-trial conference),” and it takes place before your trial (hence the word “pre” before the word trial).  The courts are hoping people want to resolve their case here and not continue on to trial.

    But you read this blog, and you are too smart for them, so don’t fall for it.  Wait until your name is called (yes, I know it can be hours) and tell the judge that you would like a trial.  After you do that, they will set your case down in a few months and you can finally have your day in court. 

    If you haven’t researched your violation by now, what are you waiting for?  Get online or go to a library and read up on the statute you were charged with.

    When it’s the day of your trial, dress appropriately, show up on time, and wait for your name to be called.  We’ve already covered that the police officer will go first and explain to the judge exactly what he or she observed you doing.  The officer might produce documents to verify what he or she is saying.  You will have an opportunity to look at those documents and ask questions, but not until the officer has finished speaking.  Oh yeah, here’s some more free advice.  Don’t be rude and interrupt.  You’re not F. Lee Bailey, so don’t try to be.  When the officer is finished, and has met his or her burden (meaning he or she has proved to the judges satisfaction the elements of the charge), you can finally speak.  

    Now, I know it’s been a long time.  You probably got this ticket months ago and have been dying to tell a judge just how wrong you feel this ticket was.  You have been practicing and rehearsing exactly what you were going to say for months, and you’re getting so good at it, that your own mother actually believes you were not speeding.  So don’t blow it.  Take a deep breath and try to discredit police officer’s case.  If it was a speeding ticket, did the officer testify to all the elements in the statute you read?  Did the officer make a visual observation of your speed that was consistent with the speed measuring device?

    If you can’t think of any questions (and I just gave you two), it’s time to make your case.  My last piece of free advice is that factual defenses generally do not work in traffic court.  Meaning, do not tell the judge what actually happened.  Trust me, you are walking into a trap. 

    I’m not suggesting you lie, what I’m saying is that your story of what you were doing is probably going to convince the court that you are, in fact, guilty of the violation. 

    Telling the judge that the light was yellow or that you were keeping up with traffic or that your car doesn’t go that fast are all things the judge has heard a million times and even if any of those were true, it doesn’t matter.  The judge probably doesn’t believe you anyway. 

    Generally a police officer’s credibility in traffic court is much higher than the person who received the ticket and will most likely say or do anything to get out of it.  This is why the only defense in traffic court is a legal defense which is based on legal arguments, not factual ones.

    For some legal defenses, you will have to stay tuned, they’re coming soon.

    man in car trying to avoid getting a traffic ticket from police officer

    One of the questions I’m most often asked is, “How do I beat my speeding ticket?” What if I told you there was a way to avoid getting a speeding ticket in the first place based on how you behaved when you were pulled over. A brand new study out of Canada by two professors Martin Day and Michael Ross of the University of Waterloo in Ontario, Canada, suggests that the single best thing you can do to avoid getting a speeding ticket is to apologize to the officer when he or she comes over to your car. No, seriously. Check out this research that proves it.

    The study, published in the American Psychological Association’s “Law and Human Behavior,” cited federal statistics that show that 55 percent of all traffic stops are for speeding violations. They evaluated whether the actions of the driver could determine if they received a speeding ticket or were let off with a warning. And, further, if the driver did get the speeding ticket, whether their behavior affected the amount of the fine. Did nicer behavior translate to a lower fine?

    The researchers broke down the responses given to police into four basic types:

    • admitting it and including a statement of remorse (I’m sorry, I shouldn’t have been going that fast)
    • making an excuse (I have to go to the bathroom)
    • justifying it (I was just speeding up to pass that person)
    • denial (no way, my car doesn’t go that fast)

    The study followed over 500 responses given to the police and a trend emerged. Those individuals that admitted to speeding AND expressed remorse were able to avoid getting the ticket altogether or have their costs reduced (by the officer citing them for a lower speed which is cheaper). According to the authors, “Expressions of remorse were associated with a reduction in ticket costs and a greater likelihood of receiving a warning rather than a fine.” If you are interested in reading the complete study, it can be found here in the June issue of Law and Human Behavior.

    Having practiced as a traffic ticket attorney for over 15 years and being involved in over 1,000,000 citations, I can tell you, my clients have been saying for years that honesty is the best policy. In other words, the times they have been able to “get out of a speeding ticket” have been because they were honest in admitting it and apologized for it. I always thought that the police officers were so shocked to hear someone telling them the truth and admit that they were speeding, that it was refreshing and they decided not to write the ticket. Now there is research to back up what my clients have been saying for years.  Go figure.