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Pay the Ticket or Pay Lawyer: Same Money Different Results

You need to look at the big picture before you decide to just pay the ticket. You must consider how much you will pay for the fine and the amount your insurance will increase. I’ve heard people say, “Pay the ticket or pay a lawyer, it works out to about the same amount of money. But, when you just pay the fine, you’re automatically guilty and your insurance will likely go up, but when you hire a lawyer and the ticket is dismissed, it’s a win-win.” No fine and no increased insurance, there’s just the lawyer’s fee.

When you must pay the ticket, you pay and it’s done, but the rise in auto insurance premiums will continue for at least three years for a minor infraction and seven to ten years for major infractions and misdemeanors. Just losing your “good drivers” discount will cost you 20 percent more and then they will add in the consequence of the ticket that put you a higher risk category.

How Much Will Your Ticket Really Cost You Over Three-Years?

When you just pay the ticket… a lot more than you would suspect.

The act of just paying the fine is equivalent to pleading guilty, whether you were guilty or not your insurance company, the DMV, and yes, even your employer will consider you guilty. And, statistics show that in one-third to one-half of the cases, if you lose your driver’s license (DL) or it is suspended, you will likely lose your job too. The sad part of the equation is that nearly 80% of drivers that lose their license, never get it back. Because in CA it is nearly impossible to continue working or accomplish daily tasks without a license, most continue to drive until they are caught again.

OK, let’s look at a scenario where you get two garden variety, most often issued tickets in CA, a speeding ticket, 1-15 mph over the limit and then later a red-light “California stop” citation. The base fine for the speeding ticket is $35.00, but when you add in the state and county fees, assessments, and penalties for such things as Emergency Medical Services and Night Court, even if you don’t use either of those, the total for that one minor infraction is $230-250, depending on the county.

The second ticket, the red-light ticket, whether issued by a law enforcement officer (LEO) on the scene or by camera enforcement, the base fine is $100. Now, those state and county penalties by percentage of the “base fine” kick up the totals quite quickly. You will pay $490 or $500 for rolling through that red-light, whether you came to a complete stop is irrelevant in the eyes of the law if you just pay the ticket.

Your total is now somewhere between $720 and $750 already and you’re just getting started. OK, so let’s say you decided to take traffic school to mask the first ticket from your insurance company, if that was the speeding ticket, you probably made an error in judgment because Proposition 103 mandates that your insurance overlooks one minor infraction in CA and keep your good driver’s discount. But, whether you use it for the speeding ticket or the red-light ticket, you will add another $64 to your total for the traffic school (at least in Kern County, it varies), plus whatever the court adds for administrative fees to attend traffic school. Now your total is close to $800 and you haven’t renewed your insurance yet.

At some point during the three-year period that those tickets will stay on your motor vehicle driving record (MVR) you will have to renew your insurance, normally that happens annually.

OK, so you lost your good drivers discount, that’s 20 percent. So, if your premium is $1200 per year, which is lower than many quotes, carinsurance.com says it is $1518 per year in CA. But, you know how much you pay and you can use their calculator to come with the actual increase. Without the 20 percent discount, it will rise to $1440 per year and $720 over the minimum three-year period you will be without a good drivers’ discount. Now you’re up over $1500 and you haven’t received an increase due to risk for the red-light ticket you couldn’t hide from your insurance company. Let’s just say on the low side, that’s 10 percent, though it will likely be more, that’s another $144 per year or $432 over the three-year period.

Therefore, just taking the minimum numbers into account, you are looking at around $1950 total for those two tickets. Granted, it will be less for just one ticket. But, don’t you think you could hire a traffic lawyer to help you with those two tickets for less than $1950? So, why just pay the ticket?

How Much Will a Traffic Lawyer Costs You?

If they get your ticket dismissed… a lot less than you would expect!

Now that you know about how much it will likely cost for two minor infractions within a year, let’s look at how much traffic lawyers are charging in CA. When you are hiring a traffic lawyer, how much they charge is not nearly as important as how effective they are.

You’re probably wondering how to find out how effective a traffic attorney is and the answer is as easy as listening to or reading what others are saying about them. Check their social media pages, Nolo.com, and Yelp. Nolo is a good professional measure for lawyers and Yelp is an excellent source as it allows people to review the business and leave comments about the service they provided to them.

Many lawyers charge by the hour and that can be a few hundred per hour, but that will not help you much because there is no way of knowing how long it will take to settle your ticket. The best course of action is to get a written agreement of expense before hiring an attorney and what will happen in various scenarios.

If they do not offer a free consultation or refuse to give you a written agreement, keep looking. Or, better yet, just call Bigger & Harman for a FREE consultation.

Don’t Just Pay the Ticket, Call Bigger & Harman for Advice

When you require the services of a traffic ticket attorney or are considering pleading not guilty and fighting your ticket in traffic court in Bakersfield, Bridgeport, Santa Clarita, Mammoth, Lamont, Shafter, or other Central Valley traffic courts, and some in LA or Riverside, before you pay the ticket, call the expert traffic ticket team. Call Bigger & Harman, 661-349-9300 today or email: attorney@markbigger.com.

You can even contact them now on their Facebook page.

En español, llame al 661-349-9755.