Do you really need a California traffic ticket lawyer?

Does it make sense to hire a California traffic ticket lawyer? Is it worth the cost of hiring a California traffic ticket lawyer to fight a ticket? Will I save money by hiring a California traffic ticket lawyer?  The answer to these question will depend on the type of California traffic ticket you are facing. Not all California traffic tickets are created equal.  Let’s take a look at the various types of California traffic tickets and try to determine if it makes sense to hire a lawyer to fight your ticket. The first thing to note is that California has three levels of offenses that can result from a California traffic ticket. They are as follows:


Although it is rare to receive a traffic ticket for a felony in California, it does happen from time to time in the following scenarios:

If you are facing a felony and you can not afford to hire a California Traffic lawyer, ask the Judge to apply for the Public Defender at your very first court appearance.


A misdemeanor is a criminal offense punishable by time in the county jail.

Most misdemeanors in California are punishable by either six months or one year in the county jail. Common misdemeanor traffic offenses are DUI, driving without a license, driving on a suspended license, and hit and run.

Due to the risk of jail time and a permanent criminal record, if you face misdemeanor charges you should strongly consider hiring a California traffic lawyer.


An infraction is punishable by a fine only.

You can not go to jail for an infraction or receive a criminal record or grant of probation. However, Infractions can cause serious problems and cost you big money. Some California traffic tickets can have fines of over $2000 for just a single ticket. Points are assigned to your driving record for convictions on moving violations

If you face infractions only, see below for further discussion about whether or not the hire a California Traffic lawyer.

California Vehicle Code Infractions - Do I need a California traffic lawyer?

This section can be broken down into two main categories, moving violations and non moving violations.  Convictions for non moving violations do not result in a point on your DMV record, so these offenses are generally considered the most minor of all offenses.   Many of these violations are also correctable which means that the charge can be dismissed and the fine waived for a $25 proof of correction fee if you properly correct the violation and provide proof to the court in a timely manner.   Common non moving violations include expired registration, driving without proof of insurance, and equipment violations such as illegally tinted windows or a burnt out tail light.   For a non moving violation, it will rarely make sense to hire a California traffic ticket lawyer.  The cost of hiring a lawyer will usually be too high to justify the result and the these types of violations can easily be corrected on your own.  The only catch is that you must handle them before the deadline on the bottom of the ticket.  If you miss the deadline things get VERY complicated,and it’s time to call a California traffic ticket lawyer.

The second type of basic infraction is a moving violation.  Moving violations generally involve driving the car, hence the name moving violation.   Common movers include speeding, illegal turns, red light camera tickets, and crossing the double yellow to exit or enter the carpool lane.   Moving violations are generally considered more serious than non moving violations for two reasons.  First, they are never correctable.  You can’t show proof that you fixed them and have the case dismissed.   Second, if you are convicted of a moving violation, one or more points will be assigned to your driving record.  The damage from the point and the cost of the fine can quickly add up to a point where it makes sense to hire a California traffic ticket lawyer.   If you contact a reputable lawyer, the lawyer will not try to sell you his or her services if they are not in your best interest.  A good lawyer will help you consider your options, including traffic school eligibility and the facts of your case, to determine if it makes sense to hire a lawyer for your ticket.

One notable exception here is when you are cited for driving over 100 mph.  If you got a ticket for speeding over one hundred miles per hour, it’s time to call a California Traffic Ticket Lawyer ASAP due to the increased penalties on this type of ticket.

Tickets with a Failure to Appear or License Hold

These tickets start off simple enough, but they get ugly fast.  The original citation can be for any violation, no matter how small. For example, let’s consider a fix it ticket for a burnt out tail light.  If you fix the light before the deadline, have the ticket signed off, turn in the ticket to the court on time, and pay the $25 fee, your ticket is dismissed.  No damage to your record and very minimal expense.  However, if you miss the deadline, your $25 ticket can easily balloon to a fee of over $1000!  How can this be?  The problem is based on missing the deadline or failing to understand how the system works.  Failing to complete all the necessary steps by the deadline will result in your ticket being treated as a failure to appear.  The failure to appear can cause the court to issue a new misdemeanor charge for failing to appear under 40508(a), issue a hold on your license under 40509.5, and add a civil assessment of $300 or more per 1214.1.   This can also lead to a chain of events or snowball effect where you end up caught driving on a suspended license and your car is impounded and you are taken to jail.   All for a burnt out taillight!  Don’t fall into this trap.  If you have missed a court date on ANY ticket, take action right away to get it fixed.   If you are in this situation it will almost always make sense to hire a California traffic ticket lawyer.  A good lawyer can easily save you money and damage to your record in this situation that will far outweigh the costs of hiring the lawyer.

Tickets Issued to Commercial Drivers

If you are a commercial driver and your receive a California traffic ticket, you need to contact a California Traffic Ticket Lawyer immediately.  As a commercial driver you are not eligible for traffic school, so if you are convicted of a moving violation, the point will stick on your driving record.  For most commercial drivers, one or more points on your driving record can be just cause for termination of employment.   If you are a commercial driver and you have received a ticket, contact a California traffic ticket lawyer today.

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