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Should I fight my NY speeding ticket myself without a lawyer?

One of the main decisions you will make after deciding to fight a ticket is to decide whether to retain counsel or go it alone, known in the legal business as being pro se, which is a fancy Latin term for representing yourself in court.

This is not going to be one of those pompous pieces about a person representing themselves having a “fool for a client.” I would rather give you some pointers along the way to assist you in your decision making process.

First off, congratulations! You have made the most important decision you can – you have decided to fight the ticket. The absolute worse way to handle your New York Speeding Ticket is to plead guilty “as charged.” This is because you are confessing and getting NOTHING in return. You will get the worse possible punishment. You are demanding that the court, the DMV, and your insurance company treat you as harshly as possible.

The first step in deciding on whether to retain counsel or go it alone is to know the full ramifications of being found guilty “as charged,” or being found guilty to a reduced charge on a plea bargain. To know this you have to understand that a conviction to a moving violation can cause (1) license suspensions, (2) license revocations, (3) insurance increases, (4) fines, (5) in certain situations additional fines from the DMV called “assessments” based on the totality of your driving record,  and (6) in rare incidences jail time. This requires working knowledge of all of the moving parts of your charge(s) relevant to the totality of your personal driving history.

You see, fighting a speeding ticket or other moving violation is not just about the “points.” A moving violation conviction often triggers license suspensions and revocations. Just 1 simple example – whenever a motorist is convicted of 3 speeding tickets which were all written within 18 months of each other, the 3rd conviction triggers a MANDATORY MINIMUM 6 month license REVOCATION. This is NOT a suspension, as your privilege to drive has been extinguished, and you must make an application to reinstate your driving privileges.  So before you can decide to represent yourself, you must know this regulatory rule, and a whole lot more to do so without triggering dire unintended consequences.

The next thing you have to understand is the venue, i.e., the court you are in. Venues are very different in NY State. For example, the NYC traffic court system is totally different than the rest of the state. in NY City you are before an ADMINISTRATIVE TRIBUNAL. Outside of New York City you are before a CITY OR JUSTICE COURT. Before the varying tribunals the procedure and your rights vary greatly. The biggest difference is that in New York City the court does not allow plea bargains, so every single case goes to trial. Outside of NYC the courts do allow plea bargaining.

However, even if you are outside of New York City you will be in one of 57 different counties and before one of over 1,400 courts. It is not enough to know the law. You also need to know the local customs and practices of each jurisdiction and court. In other words, you’ll have to learn the doctrine of “that’s how we do it here.” You need to know who prosecutes the case, the temperament of each judge, and whether a prosecutor, judge, court, or prosecutor’s office has any “policies” against certain things. For example, most courts and prosecutors have a “no plea bargaining policy” when charged with passing a stopped school bus; in the Town of Dix, NY the court has a “no plea bargaining policy” foir truckers when they fail to obey the “no through trucking” sign on Route 414.

You have to know these customs and policies, because that will dictate how aggressive you need to be when defending your ticket. Go guns blazing into a court that routinely hands out 0 point littering tickets for moving violations and you’ll find yourself held “as charged.” Conversely, fail to load for bear before a court or a prosecutor with a “policy” against making a plea offer for what you did and you’ll find yourself at trial standing there like a deer caught in headlights.

As you can see, the decision as to whether to hire us or go it alone turns on many factors.  Our office is a great one to have the conversation with about representing you, because we represents motorist throughout the State of New York. As a consequence of the breadth of our reach, we are familiar with the court systems in and out of NY City, and in all counties, towns, villages, and courts. In addition, we also get your personal court appearance waived so that you do not have to take off time from work or your schedule to go to court. This is a huge benefit.

If you find yourself in the unfortunate position of having been issued a speeding ticket, moving violation, or auto crime, don’t hesitate call us at once. The initial phone consultation is free of charge, and if you retain our office we always charge value based flat fees and in most cases offer a money back guarantee. Clients that retain us are happy they did. So don’t wait call now. We have a 24 / 7 answering service, and we are always happy to talk to you!