January, 17 2013

HOW TO HANDLE YOUR SPEEDING TICKETS

     Over my years as an attorney, I often sit in court and watch people come in with speeding tickets, unrepresented by an attorney and leave with their license suspended. Most people don’t think they need an attorney to handle a speeding charge but if you do not know the law you could have some unintended consequences. Judges and prosecutors are not required to advise you of the consequences of your plea and most of them will not. In this edition of Legal Ease I will give you a few options for handling your moving violations.

    Most of us will get a speeding ticket at one time or another. My mother will get at least one a year. In most circumstances it is financially unwise to hire an attorney because the attorney will cost more than the ticket. However, depending on your age, the number of points currently on your license and how your job will be affected by the speeding ticket, you might be better off spending the money for an attorney.

    If you are over 21, do not have close to 15 points on your license and you are not a class A driver then you can exercise your option to plea Nolo Contendere or no contest. This plea will eliminate the points associated with your speed and the courts will report the ticket to the DMV as a zero point offense. The fine will remain the same. If your speed was 85 mph or higher on the highway or 75 mph or higher on a two lane road then you will owe the state of Georgia an additional $200 courtesy of the super speeder law. The DMV will give you 120 days to pay that additional fine or suspend your license.

    If you have already used your nolo plea then you can plea guilty under a subsection 40-5-57(C). This code section reduces your fine by 20% and eliminates the points. The judge can reject the plea and the court will require a defensive driving class before this plea is accepted. This plea and the Nolo Contendere plea can only be used once every five years. If you are close to 15 points on your license and have already used your nolo, it may be worth it to exercise this option.

    If you are under 21 and a class A driver, you have to be very careful about entering a plea to a speeding ticket. For drivers under the age of 21 going 24 miles above the speed limit the DMV will suspend your license for 12 months and will in some cases require you to take the driving test again. Most counties have programs they have developed to help drivers in this age group. Ask about these programs. Most counties will reduce the speed if you are 27 miles over to 23 miles over to avoid the suspension. If you are intimidated by the process, it may be worth the money to hire an attorney.

    For Drivers with a Class A license the DMV does not accept nolo pleas. I have seen many truck drivers come to court and plea nolo only to be sent a suspension of their Class A privilege from the DMV. Truck drivers and other persons with CDL privileges should also be mindful that the laws can vary from state to state but Georgia will take action against your license for violations in other states and will punish you under Georgia Law. CDL drivers should also be aware that the tickets received when operating a personal vehicle also count against your CDL license.

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