IMPORTANT NOTE: Traffic / driving / insurance laws and court procedures can vary greatly from state to state. For more info, consult a lawyer or other knowledgable source experienced with your state's laws. -- Staff
DRIVING RECORD AND INSURANCE
Insurance companies check the driving records for every potential client to determine what rate to charge them. If the person has one or more convictions of any type, the insurance company will often charge a higher premium for insurance. On the other hand, some insurance companies offer discounts for drivers with clear records. In order to keep your insurance rates down, it is important to keep your driving record as clean as possible.
It is recommended that you shop around for the best rates, and coverage which will best serve your needs. Remember, your license can be suspended if it is found that you don't have proper liability insurance or financial responsibility for your automobile.
WHAT ARE POINTS?
A counting system known as points is used by some states to keep track of the number and severity of moving violations of which an individual may be convicted. Upon conviction, the court is required to send a record to the state's department of motor vehicles. Depending on the charge, the person will receive a certain number of points on his or her driving record. The number of points assessed for moving violations varies. For example, a speeding ticket may carry a penalty of two points, while driving with a suspended license could result in a penalty of twelve points. If a person accumulates a set number of points, he or she may lose the right to drive by a license suspension or revocation. Insurance companies also check the number of points on an individual's record and may raise his or her rates if there is a high number of points.
You may wish to consult with an attorney about points assessed for a particular moving violation or how to fight a traffic ticket to avoid points on your record.
FIGHTING A TRAFFIC TICKET
Before making a decision to fight a traffic ticket, first consider the evidence you have to support your version of the facts. For example, the testimony of a witness can help your case; however, the judge will consider the reliability of the witness, based on who the witness is. The judge will probably put more faith in a stranger's story than if your witness is your best friend or your spouse.
Some people decide to fight a ticket simply in the hope that the police officer won't appear. While this is more likely to happen on a parking ticket rather than a moving violation, if it does happen, oppose any request for a continuance that the prosecution makes, and ask for an immediate dismissal of all charges.
Although you have the option to appear alone before the judge to dispute a traffic ticket, you may wish to seek the advice of an attorney for more information.
A license suspension can occur in several different ways. The most common way to lose a driver's license is by accumulating traffic tickets for moving violations. The effect of this accumulation can result in a license suspension of thirty, sixty, or ninety days. Any additional moving violations may result in a one year suspension of the privilege to drive. License suspensions may also occur because of failure to have liability insurance, driving with blood alcohol levels in excess of the legal limits, refusing to take a breathalyzer test, or outstanding traffic charges.
Driving with a suspended license is a serious offense which could result in arrest, jail time, fines, or having your license revoked. If your license is suspended, your insurance rates could be raised. It is strongly suggested that you make every effort to maintain a valid driver's license. If you think you are at risk of losing your driver's license, you may wish to consult an attorney about proper proceedings to protect yourself.
DO I NEED AN ATTORNEY?
If you receive a traffic ticket, you normally have the option to plead guilty or no contest and accept the consequences, or plead not guilty and fight the ticket in court. Some courts allow you to mail the fine and court costs without appearing before a judge. However, paying a traffic ticket by mail may result in a violation on your driving record. This could increase your insurance premiums or affect your right to drive.
You have the option to appear before a judge in traffic court to dispute a ticket; however, this can be a complex proceeding in which a good case may be lost. A valid defense must be presented in the proper legal form; therefore, you may wish to seek legal counsel.
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