Thursday, June 23, 2005

Speeding Tickets

I've gotten a few calls recently from people who discovered the consequences of pleading guilty to speeding tickets. They did not hire lawyers for help on them. Here's what a few of them have experienced:

1. One guy received a bill from DMV for $300 (or $100/year for 3 years) as a "driver assessment". This is the first time I've gotten this call, but I suspect it will become common. It's a new law that became effective for violations on or after 11/18/2004. It happens if you get 6 or more points on your record. The caller had pled to a speeding ticket of ~25 mph over the limit, which is 6 points. Note that for DWI cases it's $750, or $250/year for 3 years.

2. A woman came in with a speeding ticket for 89 in a 55. That's an 8-point violation, but I can usually get that reduced to 3 or 4 points, maybe better. Unfortunately, she had a previous speeding ticket for 96 in a 65, and she pled guilty to that one. So she already has 8 points. If she gets 3 more points, she will probably lose her license. We advised her to take defensive driving, which should take 4 points off her license. I'm hopeful, but not positive, that this will save her license for now - as long as she slows down.
We are also considering a writ of coram nobis to see if we can vacate the earlier conviction and then try to negotiate a deal on that one with fewer points. Coram nobis is a lot of work for the lawyer, and I charge $1000 to do it. It's generally only worth it for the client if their license is in genuine jeopardy, as in this case.
Also unfortunate, her current ticket is in the Town of Chatham, where the Judge is notorious among lawyers for being tough on plea bargains. A friend of mine handled it and it was resolved with a 4-point speed and a $505 fine and surcharge. The Judge made note of the prior speeding just a few months earlier in setting the high fine.

3. One guy called me about a new speeding ticket - 79 in a 65. The big problem is he pled to a recent ticket for something like 108 in a 65, which and paid a $700 fine. That doesn't make complete sense to me because he should have had his driving privileges revoked for such a high speed, though maybe that doesn't apply to out-of-state drivers.
In his case, a lawyer probably would have gotten his ticket down to a 4-pointer or better with a fine of $300 or so. He would have saved money just on the fine by paying the lawyer's fee.

I'm surprised more people don't hire lawyers for their speeding tickets. I'm busy enough, but I feel for the people when I hear their stories.
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