Receiving a traffic ticket is a stressful situation that many of us just want to move past. Although the quickest way to respond to a traffic ticket in South Florida is to pay the fine, this is rarely the most reasonable course of action. Paying a ticket can bring trouble down the road, which is why it’s often smart to work with a traffic lawyer who serves your locality. If you’ve received a traffic ticket in West Palm Beach, here’s how to know the difference between a ticket for a civil infraction and a criminal citation.
Why Did I Get a Traffic Ticket in West Palm Beach?
Did you know that the first traffic ticket was issued in 1904 to Mr. Harry Myers in Dayton, Ohio for speeding? He was traveling 12 miles per hour, which was past the limit at the time. Police officers who witness drivers violating civil traffic laws have a duty to stop them and correct their behavior. This is widely done by issuing traffic tickets. Police officers may also issue tickets when they reasonably believe a driver has broken a minor traffic rule.
If you were given a traffic ticket in West Palm Beach, you were likely observed breaking a minor rule. Some of the most common infractions for police issue tickets are:
- Illegal U-turns
- Running a red light
- Parking violations
Even if you can afford to pay off the fine for any of the above offenses right now, you’re encouraged to discuss your ticket with a qualified traffic lawyer to avoid civil penalties.
Traffic Tickets are Usually Issued for Non-Criminal Infractions
The terms “traffic ticket” and “traffic citation” are often used interchangeably to refer to non-criminal violations. Even though the ticket is for a non-criminal matter, you could still face challenging issues down the line, including points against your license. As points add up, you could face a license suspension. Anyone who is caught driving with a suspended license risks a criminal charge.
Civil traffic citations direct drivers to respond by paying the fine, requesting an informal review hearing, or requesting a formal hearing. Understanding each option is vital for making the best choice.
What Are the Results of Paying a Traffic Ticket
When you pay a traffic ticket by mailing the court a check or making a payment online, you admit fault to the violation for which you were cited. As a result, you incur points against your Florida driver’s license. Each traffic violation carries a certain number of points, with lesser offenses carrying fewer points than more serious violations.
When you hit 12 points within 12 months, you can lose your license for 30 days. The suspension period will be extended if you’re caught driving with a suspended license, and you’ll also face a criminal charge that will go on your record.
Results of Requesting an Informal Hearing for a Traffic Ticket
When you request an informal hearing for a traffic ticket, you may lose some of the advantages of requesting a formal hearing. If the police officer fails to show up, you can’t challenge his statements in court. If you represent yourself, the odds of achieving a desirable outcome significantly decrease. If you choose an attorney to represent you in court, he or she will request a formal hearing.
Results of Requesting a Formal Hearing for a Traffic Ticket
The third option may take a bit more work on your part, but the results of your traffic case could be dramatically improved. When you hire a lawyer to represent you, you hire a knowledgeable professional who understands the best defenses to raise. He or she may appear in court on your behalf so you can avoid the hassle of carving out time in your busy schedule. Your attorney will know the prosecution’s weaknesses and, if the officer who gave you a ticket doesn’t show up to your formal hearing, your ticket can be dismissed.
Responding to Criminal Traffic Tickets
Criminal traffic tickets differ from civil tickets because they accuse you of committing a crime. As with any other crime, a criminal traffic violation may lead to penalties like incarceration and steep fines in addition to a suspended license.
Criminal traffic charges appear on the same record employers and landlords check when they run background checks. A criminal charge could stand between you and your freedom. You may have received a criminal traffic ticket if you were stopped for:
- Driving with a Suspended License
- Reckless Driving
- Leaving the scene of an accident
- Driving without a valid license
- Attempting to flee law enforcement
Most of these offenses are misdemeanor crimes, although the facts of your specific case could lead to a felony charge. Realistically, your only option is to contact an attorney to defend you in court. Don’t hesitate to contact a West Palm Beach criminal traffic lawyer to learn more about your charge.
Hiring a Dedicated Traffic Lawyer in West Palm Beach
Hiring a traffic lawyer doesn’t have to be a stressful event. A traffic lawyer who has dedicated his career to helping people in situations like yours should be able to alleviate your most pressing concerns about your traffic charge.
If you’ve received a civil or criminal ticket in West Palm Beach, the safest bet is to work with an attorney with years of experience challenging traffic violations. Attorney Brian P. Gabriel of The Law Office of Gabriel & Gabriel has an extensive background fighting allegations of traffic infractions and serious traffic crimes. He has served the people of Palm Beach County and neighboring areas for 30 years. Call 561-622-5575 for a free consultation or complete our contact form.