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What Are The Penalties Associated With Civil Traffic Violations In Florida?

For civil violations, associated penalties depend on the type of traffic violation. When it comes to speeding, for instance, the potential penalties can include 3-4 points added to your license, as well as fines and traffic school. Hiring an attorney can help you first and foremost with avoiding points, which avoids the associated premium hikes. We can also help negotiate the fines down, as well as the time spent in traffic school.

Often, people believe that they do not need to hire an attorney for civil matters because there is no potential jail time involved. However, this belief isn’t really accurate, and should be re-examined. In fact, hiring an attorney can drastically reduce the costs and other potential repercussions of taking on a full penalty for a civil traffic violation. These cases involve many potential exceptions, rule requirements, and technicalities that can confuse and stymie a layperson, but which an attorney will know how to navigate.

Take, for example, a case I handled just yesterday. A client was charged with going 75 MPH in a 45 MPH zone, which is 30 MPH over the speed limit. This was her second over-30 MPH violation, as she had plead guilty to another violation just eight days beforehand. According to the mandates of Florida law, a person sentenced to two over-30 offenses in such a short period of time should have their fine doubled to $712 at a minimum, and should have points should added to their license.

However, instead of merely accepting the points and higher fines, I figured out a strategy to fight the charges. I was able to point out some inconsistencies and technicalities in how the ticketing officer classified my client’s speed. This ultimately forced the state to negotiate with me, and they eventually agreed to drop the second offense to 29-over. This re-classified the violation, which allowed her case to qualify for a Withhold of Adjudication. In the end, despite getting two separate 30-over speeding violations within the span of 8 days, she avoided having any points added to her license. Without an attorney, my client would never have been able to get the results she got.

This is one illustration of the benefits of hiring an attorney who knows what they are doing. Whenever possible, we can use technicalities to litigate and negotiate with officers, the state, and the court, and can help you avoid points, reduce fines, and reduce time spent in traffic school.

If I’m Guilty Of A Traffic Violation, Should I Just Pay The Fine And Get It Over With?

In my opinion, you should not simply pay fines to deal with traffic violations. As mentioned previously, in doing so you would admit guilt, which could lead to points on your license and raised premiums. Even if you are willing to accept points and/or raised insurance rates, there are good reasons not to simply pay the fine, and to fight the case strategically instead. One reason is that having a guilty conviction for a traffic violation on your record can come back to haunt you.

As an example, let’s say you were in an accident, and you got a careless driving citation. In most cases, Florida law will allow you to simply pay that citation and move on. However, if you do so, you are admitting that you are guilty of the careless driving charge, which can have repercussions later on. Let’s say, for instance, that the other person in the accident was injured, and brings a civil personal injury suit against you. A guilty plea to a careless driving charge, as well as accumulated points on your license, can work against you in such a case.

Do I Always Need To Hire A Traffic Ticket Attorney?

No, you do not need an attorney for all traffic-related matters. I have had potential clients come to me with particularly simple cases that they could handle themselves. I told them that they didn’t need me, and gave them simple advice about how to proceed. So, even in those cases where you might not need an attorney, it does help to consult with an attorney just to make sure there isn’t anything you’re missing.

What Are The Most Serious Traffic Offenses Charges In Florida?

The most serious traffic offense charges in Florida are criminal offenses rather than civil offenses. DUIs are generally considered the most serious among the criminal traffic-related charges, second to vehicular manslaughter. There are several different types of DUIs, some of which are more serious than others. Certain conditions increase the seriousness of the DUI and its sentencing guidelines. These include:

  • Repeat offenses. Your first DUI is usually considered less serious than any subsequent DUIs. The more DUIs you get, the more severe they become.
  • Offenses that happen too closely together. If your DUI is not a first-time offense, the amount of time between that DUI and your last DUI becomes important. For instance, getting a second DUI within 10 years of your first DUI comes with more severe sentencing than if the two offenses had been over 10 years apart.
  • If you have an increased blood alcohol level. Driving with a blood alcohol level over a certain percentage (0.15 or higher) carries steeper potential penalties than driving with a lower but still illegal BAL.
  • If you refuse a test. In many instances, DUI charges default to penalties for increased blood alcohol levels if you refuse to take a state-authorized blood alcohol measuring test.

These guidelines are statutory, meaning they are put in place as legislation, and are therefore quite serious. However, a good DUI attorney can look at a given DUI situation and find avenues and loopholes to change the qualifications or categorization of the DUI, and/or argue against evidence brought by the state. This improves your odds of reduced sentencing astronomically. Trying to handle DUI charges without an attorney, on the other hand, leaves you vulnerable, and may result in severe and long-lasting consequences.

For more information on Traffic Violations Cases in Florida, an initial consultation is your next best step. Get the information and legal answers you are seeking by calling (727) 478-4222 today.

Christopher Shaw, Esq.

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(727) 478-4222