Richard L. Cooper
THE “SKILL” OF FIGHTING TRAFFIC TICKETS
I occasionally have the opportunity to defend a client who received a ticket for a traffic “infraction.” It is a common misconception (one that this author once held) that traffic offenses like speeding or not maintaining a lane are ‘criminal’ offenses. In fact, these are called “civil infractions;” often not carrying a penalty more than a fine or points on one’s license. However, certain offenses like “reckless driving” or “leaving the scene of an accident” are crimes of the misdemeanor variety carrying penalties sometimes up to a year in state prison. The problem, of course, is that even these seemingly harmless “infractions” can land you in jail.
Imagine the following scenario: Bob gets pulled over for speeding. $200 ticket, no big deal right? So he puts it off, forgets about it. Boom, license suspended. Now Bob doesn’t know his license is suspended and continues to drive around town enjoying life. Finally, after a couple months, he gets pulled over again. This time, the cop notices Bob’s license is suspended and takes him to jail. Now Bob has to spend a night in jail, see a judge, bond out, and hire yours truly to defend against this now CRIMINAL charge. Because of situations like this, I always tell people to treat those tickets seriously. There's no worse way to land in jail than for forgetting about a stupid ticket.
A lot of personal injury lawyers send me clients who receive tickets as a result of an accident; the reason being that the outcome of that ticket has serious repercussions on the viability of their personal injury claim. Since they started sending me these tickets, I have become quite good at them and win almost all of them. For this reason, if you get a ticket, criminal or civil, it is best to have a credible and knowledgeable defense attorney on the case. There may be more at stake than you think.