This is the most frequently asked question by potential clients calling for their consultation. The answer is that it depends on your job, your financial situation, the charge on the ticket, and the court you’re in. In other words, the choice is a highly personal one best made by you and your spouse, and possibly your employer, after getting as much information as possible.
I have found that there are two main types of drivers: company drivers and contract drivers. I’ll address both situations.
If you drive for a company, odds are that they are not running your DOT record each week, and you can probably stand to take a ticket if you need to. It might not be a bad idea to discuss the ticket with your employer, as it could end up affecting their insurance costs. In some cases, drivers have told me their employer never found out about a ticket until much later, or never found out at all. This may be the case for your ticket, but what you don’t want to have happen is the insurance company tells the employer before you get a chance to. I advocate honesty in all situations. Now, if they don’t ask, you don’t necessarily have to tell them. Then again, you might be better off letting them know before they find out another way.
If you are a contractor, it is often more imperative that you keep tickets off your DOT completely. Each new job means a new pull of your record, and having a recent ticket, and even an older ticket, depending on what it is, can bar you from getting a job even as an experienced driver. It can also raise your insurance, if you are paying that tab yourself.
If this ticket could lose you your job, it is worth it to shell out for an attorney in pretty much every case. Likewise, if this ticket could cause you to lose out on future contract work, just one paycheck can make up for an attorney’s fee.
Insurance can also be a concern. Premiums can rise if you get a ticket or have an accident, and the already-high cost of working the roads can skyrocket with a single citation with multiple charges on it.
The other side of this is that quality representation comes at a price. Considering my hourly rate and the flat rate I usually charge for CDL tickets, my rates are a steal. Then again, if you don’t have it, you don’t have it. I know better than most how that can be, and how it can feel when you’re trying to make ends meet and end up with an unexpected expense like this.
Be up front with me about your financial situation when you call. While it is against firm policy to do payment plans, I will work with you to make sure you can afford my services as best I can. I have helped many a driver find a way to make the fee, and given the opportunity, I will do the same for you.
The Charge on the Ticket
This is not the fine amount. It is the offense you are charged with committing. This can be anything from simple speeding to overweight to complex equipment issues, to even an accident.
If you have a simple ticket that is considered a non-moving violation, you may not need a lawyer, especially if you’ve already been in touch with the prosecutor or judge and they have made it clear you can get out of the ticket.
Otherwise, I recommend hiring an attorney. Here is why: The court, prosecutor, and court staff do NOT have your best interests in mind. They are NOT on your side. They are not supposed to dispense legal advice. They do not have to give you a good deal. They are not required to even talk to you. And they can screw you without your even realizing it.
This is your livelihood, and even with the simplest of tickets, you need to protect that as best you can, and the best way to do that is to hire a professional who knows the system and the personalities in it.
Some charges are easily dismissed, and some aren’t. Consult an attorney to figure out which yours is today!
The Court You’re In
The jurisdiction, or court, your ticket is in plays a huge role in whether your ticket will be dismissed or prosecuted. The jurisdiction determines the key players: Judge, Prosecutor, Court Staff, and Officer. Some courts are favorable to CDLs, some are decidedly NOT.
An attorney will know and honestly evaluate your case based on which court your ticket is in. There are some courts where I will not even take your case because I know for a fact that with the current prosecutor or judge there is no chance of me being able to help you, therefore I feel it would be wrong to take your money. There are other courts that some attorneys refuse to work in, but I have had excellent luck in those courts.
The bottom line here is you want an attorney who has experience with the judge and prosecutor in the court where your ticket is, so they can give you an honest and accurate assessment of your chances moving forward. Our firm works in every court in Texas, and we can give you that assessment with accuracy and speed.
If you drive for a living, a traffic ticket can make or break your career. At the very least, a conviction on your DOT can negatively affect your paycheck for the foreseeable future. Our firm is not the right firm for every client, but even if you decide not to hire us, I implore you to hire an attorney so you can at very least get a fair shake on your day in court.