SHOULD YOU HIRE AN ATTORNEY FOR YOUR TRAFFIC TICKET?
There are ample reasons to consider hiring a traffic attorney.
Consider hiring an attorney if:
*Your ticket carries points. Points on your license mean fines, fees, and penalties. If you accrue points, your insurance premiums may increase. If you get 6 or more points on your license in 18 months, you will owe a driver's assessment fee to New York State.
*Your time is valuable to you. With an attorney, you usually do not have to attend court. Your attorney fights for you, and you stay home.
*You drive for a living. Professional drivers, such as CDL drivers and taxi or Uber drivers, have an extra incentive to keep their licenses clean. If you need your license to work, you should never go to court without experienced counsel.
In some cases, you may be better served representing yourself.
*If your ticket does not carry points, it is probably not worth hiring an attorney. For example, if you get a ticket for tinted windows, you should save your money and either pay the ticket or go to court on your own.
*If your ticket can be dismissed with proof. If you get a ticket for insurance, for example, you can have the ticket dismissed just by showing that your vehicle was insured when the summons was issued. Please understand that what most drivers consider winning proof in traffic court -- such as photos of the intersection and sources
*Your license is just not that important to you. Not everyone cares about a clean license. If you don't think points on your license will affect you, save your money and represent yourself.
WHAT DOES AN ATTORNEY DO THAT YOU CAN'T?
Your attorney knows the lay of the land.
*Traffic court is a game -- a game that is tilted heavily against the driver. Some judges in traffic court are friendly to the driver. But many are not. Even good judges may have tendencies that hurt the motorist, and even bad judges have their redeeming qualities. A skilled traffic attorney can avoid the bad judges and find the good ones. And an experienced traffic attorney has conducted hundreds or thousands of trials in front of each judge.
*Your attorney can manipulate the system to your advantage. If you miss a hearing date, you may go see a judge and be informed that he will not reschedule your case. The judge may even threaten to suspend your license. But most of the time, a skilled attorney can reschedule this case for you with no suspension and no drama. Your attorney knows the system and knows what to say. She does this every day. You don't.
*Your attorney knows the police officers. He knows how they testify. He knows their strengths and weaknesses. He knows which officers are about to retire. This knowledge results in dismissals that unrepresented motorists will not get.
Your attorney fights a battle that you can win.
*If it's your word against the police officer's, you will probably lose. The "burden of proof" in traffic court is very low. Some police officers may be regular attendees at traffic court; some of them have known your judge for years. And in the eyes of that judge, they have no reason to embellish.
*Your attorney knows how to win your case. The best way to win in traffic court is through arguments of law. Your attorney knows the legal elements of the charge. The police officer must establish these elements and must testify to them with a certain level of detail.
*Your attorney knows which arguments will work and which will not. Simply knowing the law is not enough. Your attorney knows the habits of judges. She knows which judges will reschedule an older ticket. He knows which judges will dismiss a case due to small mistakes by the officer.
You might win on your own, and you might hire an attorney and lose.
There are no guarantees.
But with an attorney, you have a much better chance to have your ticket dismissed.