"Do I need to hire a lawyer for my traffic case?"
First and foremost, do not plead "guilty" to your charges. A plea of "guilty" is equivalent to a conviction after trial for whatever you have been charged with. Nearly all traffic cases can be pled down to a lesser offense - with fewer points and lower fines.
Although other lawyers may devote part of their practice to this area of the law, Vehicle and Traffic Defense is the sole focus of my practice. I have been representing clients with traffic cases in and around the capital district of New York, central New York, along I-87 and along I-90 since 2005.
Should I represent myself in my traffic case?
Lawyers can usually negotiate a more favorable plea than a person handling their own case. Also, if a lawyer handles your case you will most likely not have to appear in court. If your appearance is necessary, a lawyer will make the process much more efficient and less confusing.
The Upstate New York traffic court system can be difficult to navigate. The cultures and procedures in these courts can vary because of their size and how judges and prosecutors tend to handle cases. Having an experienced attorney can help.
New York State law now requires someone who is pleading their own vehicle and traffic case to appear twice in court; once for a "conference" and again for a trial. In addition, New York State Troopers are no longer allowed to plea bargain directly with motorists.
Additional Penalties for Speeding Charges and High Point Totals
In 2004, a change to the NYS Vehicle and Traffic Law (the Driver Responsibility Program) requires drivers who are convicted of specific traffic violations to pay an assessment to the DMV in addition to their fines issued by the court and the mandatory New York State surcharge. For example, if you receive six points on your license within an 18 month period the DMV will charge you a $300 Driver's Responsibility Assessment plus $75 for each additional point over six.
If you accrue 11 points on your record within an 18 month period (based on the dates of violation), the DMV will suspend your driver's license. If you receive three speeding convictions within an 18 month period (based on the dates of violation), the DMV will suspend your driver's license for six months. These changes in the law make it even more important to have good legal representation for traffic matters.
Out-of-State Drivers: Don't ignore your New York traffic tickets!
If you are an out-of-state driver, the State of New York will create a driving record for you based on any traffic convictions here. If you accrue 11 points on your New York record within an eighteen month period, your driving privileges in New York will be suspended. These points may also transfer to your home state driving record and potentially effect your auto insurance rate. (See link below for CarInsurance.com.)
Click on the following links to learn more: