“Is it worth it to hire a lawyer on a traffic case?”
In a word, yes—especially in Georgia—where most traffic offenses are criminal violations with a potential penalty of as much as 12 months in jail and/or a fine of up to $1,000 (plus state surcharges, which could, in some instances, almost double the fine).
“It’s just a ticket. I’m sure I can handle it myself. Lawyers are expensive,” you might say. True, you could. And, true, lawyers charge a premium, especially for high quality service. Here’s why having a lawyer makes a difference:
1. The stakes may be higher than you think—There’s more at stake with a traffic citation than you think. Depending on the charge, if you plead, you could: lose your license, get points on your license, see your insurance rates go up, end up harming your success in a civil case if you were cited in an accident, have trouble keeping the job you have or getting a new job, be required to complete community service, drug and alcohol evaluations and treatment, attend a defensive driving class, or go to jail.
2. It is rocket science—While what we lawyers do may look easy—I know, it looks like all we do all day is talk, and anyone could do that—but the truth is that lawyers are skilled in the law. When we talk and argue in court, we work from a perspective of high-level knowledge.
Court is the ultimate game of chess. Lawyers know the procedural and evidentiary rules. They can tell you what local variations on the rules people rely on, how pieces like the judge, prosecutor, and clerk move to either help or harm their client, where weaknesses lie in the State’s case, and which move(s) to make to get the best result and avoid a checkmate. Good lawyers don’t just recite the law—they understand it. They can take advantage of the possibilities it holds to get a good result for a client. Although it looks easy, not everyone can do it.
Think of it this way: if your arm was broken in an accident and you went to the hospital, you wouldn’t get there and do the medical exam, x-rays, and surgery yourself. You would rely on the person who has been trained in medicine and worked in the emergency room day in, day out, to do all of those things for you—because you know they have the skill to treat you properly. The same is true with lawyers.
3. You are less likely to wait in line—The truth is, if you have a lawyer, your case is going to be heard quicker. A lawyer will be able to talk with the prosecutor earlier to try reach a resolution. And, a lawyer will have an advantage you alone don’t have in negotiations—the prosecutor will know the lawyer has the skills required to see through the State’s case. Prosecutors will see your lawyer as an equal on the chess board; knowing they are equally matched, they will make your attorney a better offer than you could get on your own.
The Traffic Tip is only for informational and educational purposes. It is not intended to be legal advice. If you need help with a legal matter, you should contact a licensed attorney in your state who understands the facts and circumstances of your particular case and the law that applies.
Check out my next Traffic Tip on Tuesday, October 10, 2017: "How do lawyers help people in traffic cases?"