Imagine this scenario: Katie is driving to work early one morning. She’s tired from having too little sleep. She’s running late, knowing that one more time she will be fired. Losing her job will mean she loses her apartment. She’s nearly to the parking lot with 5 minutes to spare when she hears a siren and looks up to see the lights in her mirror. She pulls over, hoping this will be a quick stop. As she looks in the passenger seat for her purse, she realizes that she never paid her auto insurance. She was planning to pay it with this next paycheck to get it reinstated. Panicking, she looks ahead and sees a straight shot of road. The thoughts race through her head. Should she try and explain this to the police? Fight it in court? She will never get out of jail because she cannot pay if she’s arrested and loses her job. Should she take her chances to run, knowing that she has nothing to lose? She knows that she will be going to jail when she is pulled over. Should she try to run? The officer is out of his car; she could get a very good head start. What does she have to lose by running?
If you have watched the Atlanta news recently, you will see that people often try to outrun the police. You will also see that it usually has deadly consequences. It’s easy to see how someone can feel trapped with no way out. While our state is not the heaviest in the fines, Georgia is unique in a couple of ways regarding our traffic citations.
Georgia’s Traffic Citation System
Georgia is one of only a few states that considers its traffic citations criminal offenses rather than minor offenses. So, if you are caught speeding, that is a criminal offense. In other states, it’s a minor offense. Because it’s a criminal offense, you are given a court date. Depending on the offense, you may have an opportunity to pay the fine rather than go to court. However, if you go to court but are unable to pay your fine that day you risk probation. Some offenses, i.e., driving without proof of insurance, require you appear in court.
In addition, Georgia courts add several surcharges on top of the actual fine. Anyone who has been caught speeding in Georgia knows that the price tag of a ticket in court is very expensive and depending on how many miles over the speed limit, it may result in points on the driving record. This can affect your wallet in more ways than one. Insurance companies can increase your rate or drop your coverage if you have a risky driving record.
How Do We Help Katie?
Remember Katie from our scenario above? There’s hope for her situation, especially if she does not run. You have rights under the law and Katie has rights too. Katie would be best served by communicating with the officer to find out why he’s pulled her over. She has a right to know. Katie isn’t even sure what the reason is yet. It could be speeding. It could be lapsed insurance or it could be something all together different. When the officer asks for her license, insurance and registration, Katie should provide her driver’s license and car registration and be honest about not having the insurance card. In the event that she is ticketed, or worse, arrested, Katie has the right to contact an attorney and she SHOULD contact an attorney either way.
Why You Need a Lawyer for a Traffic Ticket
In the event that Katie was speeding excessively, she is likely facing a very large fine and possibly an additional super speeder fine from the State of Georgia. This can also add points to her driving record which will increase the cost of her auto insurance. Now, because Katie has already allowed her insurance to be cancelled, she may have a problem getting her insurance re-instated at all. On top of that, when she goes to court, she will be unable to pay the fine (having lost her job) so she will be given probation. Driving without insurance may actually result in incarceration as well as suspension of her driver’s license. Having an experienced attorney who knows the law and traffic court can assist her greatly on all of these issues. An attorney with trial expertise will know how and when to negotiate for Katie.
If you, or a loved one, finds yourself in a situation involving traffic tickets, a DUI, driving without insurance or other criminal matters, contact our office. David Crawford has the knowledge, experience and compassion to help see that your rights are protected and preserve your driving record. There is no reason to run. Attorney David Crawford’s got your back.