Real Talk About Traffic Tickets
The VAST majority of my clients are wonderful, realistic, grounded, grateful people who seem to sincerely appreciate what I do for them. I am eternally grateful for them.
This post is not for them.
Sometimes I get a very unexpected response from clients when I keep them from wasting a day (or three!) in traffic court and save their driver’s license while minimizing their insurance consequences. Sometimes – believe it or not – people get mad at me for doing all of that.
As a professional service provider, it is best for me to try to be patient and understand a client’s concerns, even when they don’t seem to make any sense to me, and to try to explain the reality of their situation to them in a clear but inoffensive way. This works most of the time. What is probably necessary in those rarer occasions is a bit of real talk, though. And while it’s not my first resort with any client, I think it’s worth putting out here for the general public.
What does the DA not care about?
The DA does not care who your dad or mom is. The DA does not care that you’re in grad school. The DA doesn’t care about your prestigious career. Do you even hear yourself? You were all upset when Rapey McCollegedude got a light sentence because of his dad’s money, but when it comes to your ticket this sort of argument is totally acceptable all of a sudden. Not the same? Both are crimes, both have punishments. Remember the blindfold on Blind Justice? Doesn’t that make more sense now when you think about it?
What does the DA care about?
The DA cares about making the district she’s/he’s elected to protect a safer place. That means enforcing safety laws like speed limits. People sometimes think that traffic tickets are simply given to a) piss people off, and/or b) generate revenue. This is a common misconception. Tickets are given to discourage dangerous driving. And yes, speeding can be dangerous. For example, the DA in Orange Co. has a totally different policy for handling speeding tickets on MLK Blvd in Chapel Hill because people die there because of speeding. That’s right. People get run over there all the time because of careless driving. They get hurt and they sometimes die because you’re not paying attention or the BBC just told you that Harry is having another baby and you’re so excited or you’re mad that your BFF didn’t like your new pants. None of these things are good enough reasons to get people killed, so maybe slow the F down.
The DA does care about your driving record. So yes, if this is your first ticket that helps you. But that isn’t the proverbial “get out of jail free card.” I tell people all the time that it’s not like we all get one free murder. If you commit a crime, you commit a crime and you have to deal with the consequences. Speeding is a crime, too. It’s a lesser crime, for sure, I get it. Your record does impact what the DA will want you to feel from this ticket. Charged with 80 in a 65 and have a clean record? Cool. Have an Improper Equipment, pay your fine, lesson learned. Charged with 98 in a 35 and have a clean record. Not the same thing at all. You’re going to have consequences on that one and you need to understand that.
You may be thinking, “Wow, Jeffrey. You don’t sound like much of a defense attorney. What about the old ‘innocent until proven guilty’ stuff?”
I hear ya. But let’s have some real talk about that…
Yes, you are innocent until proven guilty. But, you know what it takes to prove your guilt on a speeding ticket? The officer’s testimony as to his opinion that you were speeding. That’s it. So realistically, we could have a trial on your speeding ticket if you really want to have your day in court. Totally cool. You’ll have to be in court probably about 5 times to notify the court that you want a trial and to give the cop time to arrange his schedule to show up. Then you’ll be there pretty much all day. The cop will say you were speeding. You better not ask to get on the stand because I can’t allow you to perjure yourself when they ask if you were speeding. Then you’ll be found guilty. Good job. Oh, and I’ll have to charge you about $3000 for all of that time I’ve had to burn waiting around for that idiocy. Nobody wants that. Nobody.
The point is that you probably were speeding. And you would be found guilty at a trial. So my job, what you’re paying me a relatively small amount of money to do for you, is to try to minimize the consequences that you’d be facing. Isn’t that a good thing? Don’t you want a better deal? Is it that big of a deal that you have to do an online driving school? So when I keep you out of court, save your license, and lower your insurance points (thereby keeping your premiums lower than they would be) aren’t you glad?
We all make decisions that have negative repercussions. We all make mistakes. Being an adult is accepting those consequences and learning from them. If you want a be a child and whine about it, that’s up to you, but children don’t have driver’s licenses, so just remember that.
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