It was a Dark and Stormy Night . . .
Uh-oh. The little charge of guilt and fear that goes through you when you see the flashing red and blue lights behind you. Your mind momentarily races as you pull over. You gather your insurance, registration and driver’s license as the officer walks up to the car. Now what did I do?
Sound familiar? We all get pulled over at some time or another. If you work and have to drive a lot, it is more likely to occur. Usually this transaction leaves you charged with a violation of some sort. Most of the time, these are moving violations or status violations. Moving violations include speeding, failing to yield, causing an accident, running through or disregarding a traffic control device or any other number of violations while you are behind the wheel. A status offense can include lacking proper driving credentials or improper licensure of the driver or vehicle.
What Do I Do Now?
You are responsible for addressing the ticket once it has been issued. You can pay and incur fines, costs and points on your driving record. These are the same points that insurance company looks at when it evaluates your driving record and adjusts your rates. While points only count towards your driver’s license for 2 years, they stay on your insurance record for 3 or more years. What more, insurance companies rate your violations with more points than what the Secretary of State does on your driver’s license.
Your Master Driving Record keeps convictions on your driving record for 7 years and as long as 10 years. Imagine, the ticket you received in 2005 is still on your record. The one you did not challenge. the ticket that gets you labelled by some city attorneys as a ‘habitually poor’ driver precluding any negotiated settlements of a current ticket.
You can go to court and challenge the ticket in an Informal Hearing. Your case would be heard by a Magistrate, a court official, who listens to your side, the police officer’s side and then makes a determination about your responsibility. You do not need a lawyer to do this. Most times, absent a rather obvious problem with the officer’s story or proofs, the magistrate will find you responsible. There is no negotiations with the city attorney and usually not with the officer.
How to Skip Court and Protect Your Driving Record
To avoid going to court, you need to send in a denial of responsibility (or plead ‘not guilty’ if a misdemeanor). You can request a formal hearing or have your lawyer file an appearance to challenge the ticket. In District Court, the city is represented by the City Attorney and you may represent yourself. The city attorney usually has the ability to negotiate pleas and amend charges. This does not mean he or she will do so. Every court and city attorney works a little differently; make sure you know the ‘lay of the land’ when you go into court.
If you are not charged with a misdemeanor, the court rules allow your attorney to attend court in your place and go before the judge in your place. This saves you the hassles and time in contacting the court, setting your hearing up by phone, negotiating with the city attorney, dealing with the officer and then waiting for the judge to come out. Your attorney can bring payment for your final charges and pay on your behalf.
With a lawyer representing you, you save 7 or more hours in dealing the matter yourself. You don’t miss work, hire a babysitter, cancel your trip or forgo other important activities to to take a 1/2 day or more to address the ticket.
How I Can Help
I have been going to court on behalf of my clients for 16 years. I have represented thousands of clients in Michigan’s District and Circuit courts. I am proud of treating each client’s ticket individually and representing their best interests. My repeat clients understand the value and professionalism I bring to representing their interests. Our firm charges fair fees based on the time and complexity of your case. We always charge flat rate fees for traffic matters and disclose them up front prior to committing you to representation.
Call my office for a free consultation. I will explain your ticket to you, explain how I can help you and protect your interests.
313-821-5904 Office Hours: 9 a.m. – 5 p.m. monday through Friday. You may e-mail me at any time at firstname.lastname@example.org.