Most traffic ticket recipients believe it is less expensive to pay the fine than to hire a traffic attorney. In most cases, that is not true unless you hire a lawyer with a ridiculous fee.
What most drivers do not realize is that the fine is only one-fourth or less of their total expense if convicted. When a driver is convicted, even on a minor infraction, they will lose their “good driver’s discount” if they are not eligible or do not complete Traffic Violators School within the court-ordered timeframe. Then, their auto insurance company will put them into a higher risk category.
The increased premium will cost the average Californian an additional $500 annually. Since that minor infraction conviction will stay on their motor vehicle driving record (MVR) for 36 to 39 months, they could pay an additional $1500 during those three years.
Traffic Attorney Fees
So, now that you know how much a conviction will cost, $1500 plus the fine. The lowest fine in California is around $150 that started as a $20 base fine with the added county and state penalties, assessments, and fees. Although the State Legislature sets a minimum and maximum dollar amount for each conviction under the CA Vehicle Code (CVC), they also approve requests from special interests and legislators to add specific fees to the price you will pay for getting convicted.
The CA legislature has approved ten so far, $4.00 is added for every $10.00 for a DNA fund, a 100% special state penalty, an assessment of 70% for the county treasury, $1.00 added to every ticket conviction for night court, regardless if you use night court or not, and six others that will make your base fine of $35 closer to $250, and a $100 fine closer to $500.
Most quality traffic ticket attorneys who use a flat fee, charge between $300 and $500. You could pay a lot more if you hire a lawyer who charges an hourly wage, especially if you get charged with a misdemeanor or felony, such as hit and run, reckless driving, etc.
Most people believe they need to hire an expensive criminal defense attorney when charged with a misdemeanor or felony driving violation, but in most cases, a traffic ticket attorney is better qualified to handle those trials because they are knowledgeable and experienced in traffic law.
Conclusion: Traffic Attorney Versus Paying the Fine
Considering most traffic attorneys charge about the same or slightly more than you would pay for the fine, and only about a quarter of the total, most would agree it is worth the risk to hire a traffic attorney. Plus, there’s always the chance they will get the ticket dismissed or get a no-point conviction. According to the Bureau of Justice Statistics, 95 percent of the people who hire a traffic attorney to represent them on traffic tickets get dismissals of the point.
A no-point conviction means you will have to pay the fine, but you will not get assessed Negligent Operator Treatment System (NOTS) points. Therefore, your auto insurance will not increase, and you will save nearly $1500.
Consult a Traffic Attorney Before You Decide to Pay a Fine
Call Bigger & Harman, (661) 349-9300, to discuss your situation. Se habla Español (661) 349-9755. From our office in Bakersfield, we represent clients in Porterville Traffic Court in Tulare County, and in many other traffic courts throughout Central Valley.
Porterville is a small court in which most lawyers do not wish to practice; however, we have an exceptional record of success there. Send us an email, email@example.com or personal message (pm) on Facebook.
The 2020 CA Driver Handbook .pdf
The Bureau of Justice Statistics website