15 Nov Mistakes to Avoid
AVOID Confessing and Admitting:
Do Not Do It!!! When an officer, trooper or sheriff pulls you over, Do Not Confess or Admit Anything! What you say, will certainly be recorded down in their notes and will be used against you. Recently, a DWI defendant hired me, but that was after she told the police “I am coming from the liquor store next to King Kullen.” The statement was in the court’s papers. Other clients have told the police that they are late (not a legal excuse for speeding). The officer is not your friend and is paid to enforce the law.
AVOID Pleading Guilty: Okay, you did it and got caught. Do Not Plead Guilty. Even if you agree that you did what you are charged with. When you plead guilty, you have to pay a fine, your insurance may go up, you can possibly trigger a DMV Driver Responsibility Assessment (see my article from 2-17-10 about cell phone tickets below for explanation of the assessment), you can affect your job if you drive for a living, you can lose your license, you can be required to do community service or to take courses, and, in some cases, you may go to jail. A client of mine was charged with going 146 miles per hour in a 55 mile per hour zone. That is 91 miles per hour OVER the limit. He told me he did it, but he was smart. He came to me immediately. I got the ticket DISMISSED. He paid no fine, no assessment, did not lose his license, in fact, there is no record of the ticket at the NYS DMV. He never went to court, I did. If he went, I am sure he would have lost and quite possibly have gone to jail.
AVOID Taking Advice from Officer (or Court Employees):
As stated above, the officer is not your friend and is paid to enforce the law. Many times, they hand a ticket to a driver and then say “oh, just….” Then proceed to give advice on what to do and try to make the driver feel better. My answer is if someone were to punch you in the face (like cop handing you a ticket) would you then take that person’s advice (or the cop’s)? NO!!! I wouldn’t! Court personnel may be sincere and try to help you, but if you ask a question their answer is usually incomplete. There are many question’s to ask and answers depend on certain facts. “Depends,” is the best answer. The only way to answer a question would be to ask a series of questions in return. The clerks and cashiers do not usually have the knowledge or the time to give the appropriate advice.
AVOID Waiting until “Appear” Dates:
The officer may tell you, or you can see on the summons that you have to appear on a date or possibly enter a plea by mail on or before that date. HOWEVER, I suggest, act immediately. I tell everyone, “when you get a ticket, call me right away.” Waiting can cause problems such as: affecting the outcome of your case, possibly forgetting about the ticket or losing it, or dealing with it so close to the “appear” date, that you rush to do something without heeding caution and being prepared.
AVOID Underestimating Ramifications of the Ticket:
I’ve said it before, but it is not always just a fine. It could be your insurance rates going up, you can trigger a DMV Driver Responsibility Assessment (see my article from 2-17-10 about cell phone tickets for an explanation of the assessment), you can affect your job if you drive for a living, you can lose your license, you can be required to do community service or to take courses, and, in some cases, you may go to jail. Call me to get an evaluation on your situation.
AVOID Clearing a Suspended License Without Caution:
Unfortunately, when a motorist’s license is suspended, the first thought is that if it is for an unanswered ticket, then just pay the ticket and clear the suspension. DON’T DO IT!!! RESIST THE URGE! It may cause you bigger problems. If the ticket is a speed, it can cause a revocation of your license, or increased insurance rates, or loss of a job, or a other problems such as fines and a DMV Driver Responsibility Assessment (see my article from 2-17-10 about cell phone tickets for an explanation of the assessment). Even If is not a speed it can cause a suspension and the previously mentioned issues. Just because a ticket is unanswered, does not mean it is finalized. I may be able to negotiate it down to a lesser infraction, possibly with no points or DMV record. Of course I may be able to beat the ticket and avoid a fine, points and the other issues discussed. So please do not take action without thinking about the whole picture. Please call me if you want to ask about your specific case.
DO NOT ASSUME that if the cop does not show at court that the Judge or Hearing Officer will dismiss the charges against you. This is usually not the case! MOST courts first set the case for “conference.” The Court requires you to go, but not the officer. Do not be surprised when you do not see the officer there. You will not have your ticket(s) thrown out because he is not there and you will not have a trial that day/evening. There is a chance you’ll spend an hour or two or three and then have to come back another day/evening. Some courts, like the TRAFFIC VIOLATIONS BUREAU ( or TVB ), do schedule tickets for a hearing or trial, but if the officer is not there on the first date, you will not have your day in court to fight the fight. The TVB will reschedule you for another date where you are ordered to come back. So be prepared to lose more time.
AVOID Not Hiring an Attorney:
Please take all tickets seriously. Here is someone that did not. A young driver, charged with driving 80 miles per hour in a 30 mile an hour zone, tried to handle his ticket without a lawyer. This ticket is for going 50 over the limit. It is an 11 point violation that could cost him his license, fines and and assessment from DMV of at least another $575.00 and massive increases in his insurance premiums. He thought he made a good deal with the prosecutor to lower the ticket to an eight point violation which would save his license (so long as he doesn’t have another 3 points in an 18 month period) and lower the assessment by $225, but he still would be liable for the fines, the balance of the assessment ($450), increases in insurance. When he went with the prosecutor in front of the Judge, things took a turn for the worse. The Judge flipped out, disallowed the plea bargain, yelled at the driver in front of his parents ( so much for innocent until proven guilty ) and told him that his case will be set for trial and that no deals would be allowed on the schedule trial date. This is where the young driver got smart.
He decided to call a lawyer. Not just any lawyer, but one that his friend recommended, one with that the friend used two separate times with great results. That lawyer happens to be…me.
The driver came to my office with his parents. We discussed the history of the matter. How the ticket was issued and what happened in court, etc… Then I informed him of the law, what he was up against, the ramifications, the possibilities and my planned approach.On the trial date, I went to court, spoke to the prosecutor, then the Judge about the particulars of the case and convinced the Judge to allow my client to plead guilty to only ONE mile over the limit, only a 3 point violation. There was no assessment (saving him $675.00), no increase in insurance and no loss of license! My client and his parents were very happy.
DO NOT GO TO COURT UNPREPARED OR WITHOUT A GOOD LAWYER. THAT BEING SAID, DO NOT JUST HIRE ANY ATTORNEY. MAKE TO HIRE ONE THAT IS PREPARED AND KNOWS THE LAW. ADDITIONALLY, MAKE SURE TO USE A LAWYER THAT GETS RESULTS WORKING FOR YOU, NOT HIMSELF, AND ONE THAT FEELS MORALLY OBLIGATED TO DO THE BEST FOR YOU.
Thank you for reading this information which I have written to help you. However, do not take a chance going against the system. Your freedom and money are at risk and you have worked hard for it. Feel free to call me with any questions you may have. I look forward to helping you.
Jamie W. Raizin
Attorney at Law