One of the most common questions I get when people contact me about a regular speeding ticket is whether or not it makes sense to hire a lawyer. I practice in a handful of courts around Fredericksburg, Spotsylvania, Stafford, King George and Caroline, but these tips should apply to any situation where you have a Virginia speeding ticket.
First of all, you should at the very least talk with a local, experienced, knowledgeable, traffic attorney who regularly handles cases like yours in the county where your ticket is pending. Typically it’s free to call a traffic attorney and talk with them briefly about your case. You can find out a little bit about what they can do for you, what you’re really facing in court, and what it would cost to hire a lawyer to help you. Without having that basic information in hand you really can’t even begin to decide whether or not you should hire an attorney.
If you don’t make that first call, you’re never going to know what an attorney can hopefully do and what it’s going to cost. You may be surprised to learn that an attorney may be able to get a case completely dismissed based on you attending driving school and that it might only cost a small amount of money.
Deciding whether or not to actually hire an attorney for your speeding ticket comes down to a cost-benefit analysis, in my opinion. Do the benefits of hiring the lawyer outweigh the costs?
One thing that can help tip that balance is if the attorney can handle the case without you appearing in court. Depending upon where you’re located, it could make a lot of sense to hire an attorney to appear without you to save the time and expense of traveling to court yourself.
The next question is whether or not you think you can appear in front of the judge and ask for what you want. Some people simply go in and plead guilty to a speeding ticket hoping the judge will see their driving record and give them a break. Unfortunately, that doesn’t always happen. Many judges will probably just find you guilty of the speeding ticket. If you think that you’d want to handle the case without a lawyer, you really need to be confident and ask the judge for the right thing.
A local, experienced, traffic lawyer will know what kind of things the normal judge is willing to do and what they’re not willing to do. For example, around the Fredericksburg area most of the judges will not reduce charges to defective equipment like they might do in North Carolina. Going in and asking for defective equipment might simply get a “no” from the judge. The better thing to do in some courts is to ask the judge to send you to driving school. However, some judges won’t send you to driving school based on the type of driver’s license you have and the history on your driving record. That’s another reason having a lawyer can really help you.
Once you talk to a lawyer and you’ve found out what possible options you have, then you can decide if you should hire a lawyer for your Virginia speeding ticket. You shouldn’t blindly prepay a speeding ticket in Virginia, since that is pleading guilty. The best rule is: Don’t plead guilty without knowing all your options.
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