Traffic Violations Attorney in Lake Worth, Wellington, and West Palm Beach
Did you recently receive a traffic ticket in Palm Beach County? Our Lake Worth traffic law firm offers experienced traffic ticket defense in Lake Worth, Wellington, West Palm Beach, and all of the Palm Beaches. Read on to learn more about traffic tickets in Palm Beach County and how we can help.
What you need to know about traffic tickets in Palm Beach County
Florida traffic laws abound in attempts to ensure highway safety. From speed limits to restrictions on movement or direction, driving is heavily regulated in the State of Florida. To add to the feeling of restriction, police departments in Florida – especially in Palm Beach and Martin counties – readily enforce traffic laws with specialized traffic enforcement units and occasional traffic enforcement initiatives.
With so many rules of the road and hyper-vigilant law enforcement, even a cautious driver can encounter the intimidating and frustrating scenario of a traffic stop.
What are the most common traffic citations?
- Speeding Tickets – Exceeding the speed limit is a common traffic violation in Florida that can affect even the most prudent drivers. The combination of fluctuating speed limits and strategically-placed law enforcement officers sets the scene for frequent traffic stops. Notwithstanding their universal nature, speeding tickets should be taken seriously. A conviction for speeding triggers the issuance of points on your license and, in some cases, the suspension of driving privileges. The lowest level speeding ticket (with the lowest fine) is for 6 miles over the speed limit. More often, however, citations are written for 9 over and beyond. The highest speed category is 50 over.
- Running a Red Light – A red light ticket is more serious and more expensive than a regular moving violation due to the threat that the violation poses to the public. In Palm Beach County, the civil penalty is $264. A driver can face a red light ticket even when the alleged violation is not blatant; crossing the marked limit line, crosswalk or intersection at any time after the light turns red (even if the light may have been yellow when you began your attempt to cross) constitutes a red light violation.
- Florida’s Move Over Law – Law enforcement officers are increasingly enforcing the Move Over Law, which requires drivers who are approaching a stopped law enforcement or emergency vehicle to either reduce their speed by 20 miles per hour or vacate the lane closest to that vehicle as soon as possible. Violation of the Move Over Law can result in heavy fines and points on your driving record.
- Careless Driving – A ticket for Careless Driving is costly in more ways than one. In addition to the imposition of high fines and points on your driving record, a conviction for Careless Driving can result in the significant increase of insurance rates. This is because Careless Driving is a serious infraction with an incredibly negative connotation. A conviction for Careless Driving can taint your driving record for life.
- Failure to Obey a Traffic Sign – A traffic control device is simply a legal phrase for sign, signal, or marking used to regulate traffic. Stop signs and traffic lights are examples of traffic control devices. When an officer pulls you over for Failure to Obey Traffic Control Device, he or she is accusing you of ignoring a sign, signal, or marking on the road. This can be a frustrating charge for those who made the effort to stop, yield or obey another traffic command but received a citation anyway.
- Open Container – Possessing an open can or bottle of alcohol in a motor vehicle is against city, county, and state laws in Florida and can lead to a moving or nonmoving violation. Perhaps of greater concern is that an Open Container charge can sometimes come with criminal penalties such as jail time, or – worse – a DUI investigation.
If you receive a traffic ticket, you usually have the option of either paying your ticket or challenging the infraction in traffic court. Paying your ticket is almost always the wrong choice, as it comes with an automatic adjudication of guilt (conviction) and possibly points. In certain situations, a reasonable middle ground is to elect school – if you are eligible – prior to paying your citation; this may result in a withhold of adjudication (no conviction) and save you from points. However, electing school is an additional time drain and expense, and you have a limited number of school elections available in your lifetime.
The best option in most cases is to plead “not guilty” and elect court. Electing court does not necessarily mean that your case will conclude with an infraction trial; it simply means you have chosen to review the evidence, negotiate with law enforcement, talk to the magistrate, and consider your options before making a decision on your case. If you have a decent record and a good lawyer, you may be able to achieve dismissal of your citation or at least avoid points and school. If your record is questionable, an experienced traffic attorney can propose creative alternatives to the traffic hearing officer and law enforcement in lieu of points.
Points, Insurance & Driving Record
The central concern for most traffic defendants is the impact of their traffic ticket on their license and insurance. The first point to note is that a traffic citation, once submitted to the clerk’s office by the citing officer, is visible in the court system forever. Still, the mere accusation of speeding or any other traffic violation does not necessarily translate to a finding of guilt or points. Your driving record does not reflect a traffic charge; it only shows findings of guilt or guilty pleas. If your case is dismissed, your ticket does not show on your driving record. On the other hand, if you are convicted or receive an adjudication withheld, your driving record will reflect the same. Despite showing on your driving record, an adjudication withheld does not carry points. Only an adjudication may carry points for moving violations and endanger a driver of a driver’s license suspension. A DL suspension normally occurs with the accumulation of points, either by continued findings of guilt or repeated payments of tickets without attempting to challenge them.
Most people believe that their insurance rates will go up only if they receive points for a citation. While this may be true for some policyholders, each insurance company and policy are different. Some companies raise insurance rates even when adjudication is withheld. Others go further and raise rates even though a case is dismissed; this is a common occurrence in accident cases. Naturally, to minimize the risk of rate increases, the best-case scenario is a dismissal. Nevertheless, drivers should review their policies and understand the possible collateral consequences of a traffic ticket.
Some Traffic Tickets are Criminal!
Many people associate traffic tickets with mere infractions that only come with civil penalties (i.e. fines). When receiving a traffic citation in Wellington, Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, or anywhere else in Palm Beach County, it is unlikely you were handcuffed, read your Miranda rights, or sent to jail. It is usually just a piece of paper, seemingly harmless. However, assuming your traffic ticket is “just a ticket” is a big mistake.
Look closely at any traffic citation you receive. Generally, three options are listed near the bottom of your citation:
(1) “Infraction which does not require appearance in court.”
(2) “Infraction. Court appearance required as indicated below.”
(3) “CRIMINAL VIOLATION. COURT APPEARANCE REQUIRED AS INDICATED BELOW.” If your ticket checks off the box that says, “Criminal Violation,” you are probably facing a criminal charge.
Most people don’t know that in Florida a traffic ticket can be criminal in nature and can even be considered an “arrest” for purposes of initiating a criminal case in Palm Beach County. This is especially true for certain innocuous offenses, such as Driving Without a License, Expired Registration over 6 months, and Unregistered Motor Vehicle. It may come as a surprise to you that the aforementioned offenses carry a maximum penalty of 60 days in the Palm Beach County jail and a $500 fine.
So how do you know whether a ticket you got in Lake Worth or Wellington is considered a criminal traffic offense?
One indicator, as previously mentioned, is the designation of your citation as a “Criminal Violation.” However, you should not take the language of the citation as gospel; in some cases, the wrong box is checked off.
The better method for understanding the nature of your case is to look up the statute listed on your citation as the basis for your violation. Of course, the law as written is confusing, and that is where an experienced traffic attorney in Palm Beach can really help. A defense attorney who handles traffic cases is well-versed in the law and can either decipher the citation for you or, in many cases, will already know at a glance whether your case is criminal or civil.
What you should do if you get charged with a traffic violation in Florida
You find yourself in the unpleasant situation of being pulled over for a traffic violation. You are now probably late to wherever you were headed, flustered and agitated. Because of all of your other life responsibilities, you might be tempted to just shove the ticket in your pocket and “deal with it later.”
Placing your ticket at the bottom of your priority list is a mistake that could prove costly in more ways than one. A seemingly simple ticket can be far more complicated than expected.
For example, the inability to produce a license or registration often leads to a criminal charge. Failure to address your ticket in an appropriate and timely fashion could result in a warrant for your arrest, a conviction, and/or enhanced fines. It could also mean receiving what’s called a “D6 suspension” on your license. For noncriminal traffic infractions, the deadline for responding to your citation is thirty (30) days.
Take action when it comes to your ticket. The first step is to get an experienced traffic ticket attorney in Wellington on your team. An experienced traffic attorney can review the citation for procedural errors, gather all of the relevant facts, negotiate with law enforcement, and prepare for an infraction trial.
Why should you hire a traffic ticket attorney in Lake Worth?
With the population in Palm Beach County increasing each year, areas such as Lake Worth, Wellington, and West Palm Beach are ripe for traffic stops. Most people in the Palm Beaches have received a traffic ticket in their lifetimes, and the majority have begrudgingly paid the ticket without considering hiring a traffic ticket attorney to challenge the citation.
Your first thought with an inexpensive ticket might be to pay it off and get rid of it. Many people are unaware that paying a ticket results in an automatic adjudication (conviction) on your record. You would be pleading guilty upon your payment. This can negatively impact your driving record and your insurance.
Alternatively, you might be tempted to fight the ticket in court yourself. Let’s be honest, you have just as much experience in the courtroom as a banker does performing open-heart surgery! You can Google as much information as your heart desires, but reputable experience is irreplaceable. By attending court on your own, you might miss out on legal and procedural arguments that would have resulted in dismissal of your case. Even worse than having to blindly maneuver through courtroom etiquette is taking the time out of your busy schedule to attend court and possibly not getting paid while missing work.
Don’t pay that ticket! While paying your ticket and moving on may seem like the quickest and least expensive solution, paying a traffic ticket in Florida constitutes an automatic admission of guilt and possible points on your license. When comparing what’s at stake – insurance rates, fines, court costs, and driving record – to the cost of securing experienced representation, some may wisely decide that hiring a great traffic attorney is worth the investment. Hiring a traffic ticket lawyer for your Lake Worth, Wellington, or West Palm Beach citation can help you avoid the harshest of penalties, and it could be far more cost-effective than you might anticipate.
Many people who get tickets don’t necessarily deserve them, and an experienced traffic ticket attorney in Palm Beach County will know exactly how to hold the government to its burden of proof. Perhaps you were only speeding to address an emergency, and the necessity defense is appropriate. Or, maybe you were not at fault for the crash despite the police officer’s opinion. Regardless of the circumstances surrounding your traffic case, a traffic attorney will be your greatest advocate in the pursuit of justice.
Protect your rights
Whether or not you believe you are guilty of a traffic infraction, here are a few reasons you should contact Casanova Law the next time you face a speeding, careless driving or other traffic ticket:
- The best traffic lawyers know how to get your ticket dismissed. Traffic attorneys can find legal and procedural errors that other people may not notice and use that information to get you out of your ticket.
- If there are no mistakes and no feasible way to get out of the ticket, a Lake Worth or Wellington traffic attorney knows how to mitigate your sentence. If the traffic hearing officer refuses to dismiss your case, an attorney will try to negotiate a lower fine, no points or an amended or lower charge. Negotiating with law enforcement and the magistrate is not something most people are comfortable doing, but traffic attorneys do it effectively every day.
- Showing up with legal representation can change how the courtroom perceives you. It shows you are serious about your case, your record and the judicial system.
- Law enforcement could eviscerate an unrepresented person, and most people don’t know the proper techniques to fight their case in court. However, with a traffic attorney by your side, police will not try to bully you, and you stand a greater chance of having your ticket dismissed or reduced.
- You may benefit from a waiver of appearance, where your traffic lawyer appears in court on your behalf and you can avoid the stress of missing work and entering an unfamiliar setting.
- An attorney adds a protective layer to your statements because the attorney’s words cannot be held against you in court.
- Protect your constitutional rights to a speedy trial, discovery, and due process.
Choosing an experienced Florida traffic violation lawyer
An experienced traffic ticket attorney is versed in the Florida Rules of Traffic Court and can use these technical rules to your advantage. This can mean the difference between points or no points on your record.
The ideal traffic attorney for your Palm Beach County citation is likely someone local who knows the personalities of the courtroom. Familiarity with law enforcement officers, traffic hearing officers, and the courtroom clerks is conducive to a smoother process overall. Of course, this practical knowledge should be a supplement to – rather than a replacement of – proficiency in the area of traffic defense.
The best way to find a great traffic ticket lawyer is either by recommendation or reviews. Ask around, do your research, and consider all relevant factors before deciding on your attorney. Ultimately, you will want to feel comfortable with, and confident in, your representation.
Palm Beach traffic violation cases we handle
At Casanova Law, we defend drivers in Lake Worth, West Palm Beach, Wellington, and all of Palm Beach County against any allegation of a traffic violation. Examples of our traffic ticket cases include speeding, careless driving, failure to use due care, running a stop sign, failure to yield, move over law, and open container.
We understand that a simple ticket can be not-so-simple. We understand the time-sensitive responsibilities that come with fighting a ticket. Lastly, we understand that your ticket can impact your life. Attorney Lourdes Casanova, a former prosecutor, is an experienced Criminal Defense and Traffic Ticket Attorney in Wellington who can help you navigate through the justice system.
Whether you received a traffic ticket for a minor violation or are charged with a more serious offense, we have the experience to help you avoid the consequences. We offer traffic attorney services for our clients all over Palm Beach County, including Wellington, West Palm Beach, Palm Beach, Jupiter, Lake Worth, Greenacres, Palm Beach Gardens, & more.
You can call our office at 561-236-5340 or contact us online anytime. We look forward to serving you!
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