Despite what most drivers think, hiring a traffic attorney to resolve a traffic ticket is the best money-saving method.
The Most Significant Reason to Hire a Traffic Attorney Is the Actual Cost of a Conviction
When they receive a traffic ticket after they calm down, many drivers look up the fine online. In CA, they are liable to find many falsehoods and half-truths. For instance, when you do a Google search for “How much is a speeding ticket in California,” you might find, “1 to 15 MPH over speed limit = $35,” which is a half-truth in that the “base fine” is $35. After the court clerk adds the other ten surcharges, penalties, and assessments, the total fine is around $237.
You see, what makes the CA system complicated is the base fine was the actual fine when the traffic code was written, many during the late ‘50s to early ‘60s. Since then, the CA legislature has added ten surcharges to fund court construction and administration, emergency medical services and transportation, DNA identification, and many more. These ten add-ons could mean your fine is five to seven times the quoted base fine.
However, the total fine, as expensive as it is, is still only pennies compared to the increased auto insurance premiums you will pay over the next three to seven years for a traffic infraction conviction if you are not eligible for traffic violator’s school (TVS). More on that in a minute.
Once convicted or you plead guilty by paying the fine without disputing your traffic ticket, the DMV will assess negligent operator treatment system (NOTS) points. CA Vehicle Code (CVC) Section 12810, Issuance and Renewal of Licenses permits the DMV to assess one NOTS point for minor infractions and at-fault crashes.
Once your insurance provider discovers the conviction at renewal, they will take your “good driver’s discount” of 20% and assign a risk percentage based on the nature of the conviction. The average increase for a minor infraction is around 11 to 13%. Therefore, your insurance company will add around 33% after a minor infraction, regardless of your previous driving record.
Now, if you are an average CA driver, you pay $2,190 annually, according to Bankrate.com. Sure, you could pay less, and if you have a teen on your policy, you could pay a lot more. Many with teens on their policy pay $5,000 or more per year. Let’s just go with the average.
If your premium goes up 33%, you will pay $722.70 per year more, for three years with a minor infraction conviction. That means you will pay $2,168.10 more in insurance during the next 36 to 39 months that the record of conviction or paid fine remains on your motor vehicle driving record (MVR). Your insurance company will only give you your discount back after the DMV removes the NOTS points from your record.
That’s one reason it’s a no-brainer to consult a traffic attorney before deciding to dispute a traffic ticket—another is knowledge and experience.
Hire a Traffic Attorney to Dispute a Traffic Ticket
Your reputation is on the line. Whether you are in school or employed, you should consult a traffic attorney about disputing a traffic ticket. If the attorney can get the ticket dismissed, your employer or school officials need not know.
If you use the company vehicle, you probably won’t after a conviction. If you are being considered for a position of more responsibility, a conviction could make you look irresponsible or unprofessional. If you are attending school on a scholarship, you might not be eligible after a conviction if the school is really strict. It’s certainly something to think about before you decide.
Busy traffic attorneys can spend thousands of hours in traffic courts. That means they hear hundreds of cases get resolved, many similar to the traffic ticket you hold right now.
When you consult a traffic attorney about a specific ticket, they can advise you on the best course of action. Not all traffic tickets are “winnable,” regardless of guilt or innocence. Innocence is not a realistic condition to consider when disputing a ticket in traffic court.
Likewise, TVS is not always the best method of resolving a traffic ticket. You might not even be eligible to attend. You must plead guilty and pay the fine before you are allowed to attend. Think about what we said about school and work before. TVS will keep the conviction confidential if you complete the course before the court-ordered date; otherwise, it will be a public record, and you will have wasted your money.
Regardless of what the court reminder says, there are instances when you shouldn’t attend TVS.
Correctable tickets or “fixit” tickets are one of those. Correct the loud exhaust and take the repair invoice or proof of insurance to the police department. They will sign off, you take it to the court clerk, pay the $25 admin fee, and you’re done.
If you were driving a commercial motor vehicle when you were ticketed, you are not eligible for TVS. Only minor infractions can be held confidential with TVS, not major infractions, misdemeanors, or felonies. If you used it within the past 18 months, you are not eligible. If you have a mandatory court appearance, you cannot use it; however, your attorney could get the judge to include it as part of a negotiation.
There are other conditions. Always consult an attorney before agreeing to attend TVS.
One Final Reason You Should Hire a Traffic Attorney to Dispute a Traffic Ticket
A traffic attorney is much less expensive than you would think. Bigger & Harman use a flat fee to resolve traffic tickets. They are traffic attorneys that do not charge an hourly fee or require a retainer as you often hear on TV or in movies. During a consultation they might advise you to accept TVS and pay the fine when the ticket is likely to be upheld by the traffic court judge. If not, they’ll give you a price to resolve your ticket regardless of how many times they must appear in traffic court.
For more information about traffic ticket costs, read our blog, The Real Cost of a Speeding Ticket. Another good reference could be Traffic Lawyer Fee vs a 100+ MPH Speeding Ticket Cost.
Ask Bigger & Harman, APC, to Resolve Your Traffic Ticket
Se habla Español (661) 349-9755.
The Bankrate article, Average cost of car insurance in California for 2022.
CVC Section 12810, Issuance and Renewal of Licenses.