Traffic Tickets: Should I Hire A Lawyer?

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Attorneys typically charge flat fees for fighting a traffic ticket. In most cases, fighting a traffic ticket will only require one appearance in court, and can be taken care of in an afternoon. Often times, the cost of hiring a lawyer to fight your traffic ticket will be more than the price of the traffic ticket itself. But the real reason most people hire a lawyer to fight a traffic ticket is that if you win, the ticket doesn’t go on your record.

A person has rights, no matter what the charge. If a cop pulls you over for failing to stop at a stop sign, it isn’t as cut and dry as “here is your ticket, pay the fine.” You have a constitutional right to defend yourself and present any evidence of innocence. That is why you have the option to fight the ticket. Some people think it is easier to pay the ticket. That’s probably true. But, there are other considerations. The ticket may increase your insurance.

Should you hire a lawyer?

The only true test in deciding if you need an attorney or not is whether jail time is a possibility in your sentence. Such cases include:

  • DWI / DUI
  • Driving on a suspended license
  • Hit and run accident
  • Any felony involving the use of your vehicle (drug or weapons possession, manslaughter, robbery, etc.)

If your case involves any of the items listed above, you definitely require the services of an attorney. If not, you then need to weigh the cost of the attorney’s fee against the fine and insurance premium increase. There are some attorneys who specialize in dismissing traffic tickets and generally charge between $50 and $100 for their services. These attorneys typically specialize in obtaining continuances, arranging for probation sentences or, in a worst case, arranging for a driving school plea bargain.

These are all actions that you are quite capable of taking without an attorney. The advantage hiring an attorney is they have ongoing relationships with the prosecutors and are usually able to work within the system better than a stranger. If the price is right and it appears that you could get an arrangement other than driving school, you might consider one of these traffic ticket specialists for the pure convenience. Similarly, any attorney brings with him his knowledge of the law and legal system, his trial experience and his fee. Once you hire an attorney you lose control over the case. Unfortunately you have the most knowledge of the actual particulars and details that your attorney does not possess.

You also need to remember that this case is not going to land your attorney on the cover of the latest legal journal; therefore, the time he gives the case is going to be somewhat limited. One industry statistic shows that unless you testify on your own behalf and inadvertently convict yourself during that testimony, 90% of all traffic case would not have benefited from the services of an attorney.

If you still feel compelled to use an attorney, you should consider joining the National Motorist Association. The NMA offers a variety of resources (see additional information in the section titled “Additional Resources”) including an attorney referral service. This service maintains a database of attorneys, by region, who specialize in traffic ticket defense.


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