If you are going to have a day in court, it’s often in traffic court. In the state of Georgia, a traffic citation is a violation of the criminal law that can be punishable by jail time, fines up to $1,000, probation, community service or driving school. Consult with a lawyer if you are going to fight a ticket.
Traffic court seems like it’s something that could be easy or could go sideways really quick. These legal tips may save your next day in court.
- Get a lawyer, or at least consult with a lawyer before you go to traffic court. A traffic ticket attorney could help reduce the consequences of your ticket.
- It’s not the job of the prosecutor or the judge to tell you about the insurance ramifications of taking a nolo contendere plea. It’s a common misstep to assume that a “nolo” plea is right for you. It does not offer any protection when it comes to insurance rates and can only be used once every 5 years.
- If you plan to contest the ticket, you need to prepare your evidence. Traffic court is like small claims court, bring your evidence if you have it. If it’s a car accident, bring photographs of the cars and print the image of the location where the car wreck happened from Google Earth. Make an extra copy for the judge. If there is a witness, go to the clerk’s office and get a subpoena and serve it on the witness. If you had passengers in your vehicle who were witnesses, you can also bring them to court.
- If a civil lawsuit comes out of your traffic violation, and the injured party is filing a lawsuit against you, your guilty plea in traffic court can be used as an admission of fault. The same applies if you were the victim in a car crash that wasn’t your fault, but you were still cited. Talk to a lawyer before going to court if there is a personal injury claim involved.
- If you have legitimate evidence to show that your citation should’ve not been issued, and you are not guilty, you can talk to the solicitor or prosecutor ahead of time. More often than not they will work with you. In some circumstances, they will reduce something or maybe write it down to a non-reporting violation of the basic rules. Sometimes, the solicitor may decide to nol pross or dismiss the charges.
- Take the 6-hour Defensive Driving Program designed to teach drivers about safe driving practices and behaviors. The prosecutor may advise you to take a safe driving class before dismissing your charges. Driver improvement courses are good for everyone, they will make you a better driver and help you when you go in front of a judge.
- Consider this quote: “Don’t be the driving force behind traffic accidents.” Drive safe and follow the rules of the road. This is the best way to stay out of traffic court.
You can listen to the entire Episode 11 of Your Day In Court podcast for more legal advice on traffic court, magistrate court and the new changes to the 3 foot law for bicyclists in Georgia. Your Day In Court podcast with personal injury attorney Bruce Hagen and criminal lawyer Ray Giudice is available in every major platform or on Xtra 106.3 on Sundays 8-9 am.