Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

Traffic tickets issued later or not received at all.

What happens to a traffic ticket if the officer did not serve the individual at the road? This is a common question in the traffic ticket defense practice. When an officer does not serve the driver with the infraction on or at the roadside, typically that means that the infraction involves a crash. An accused driver being transported to the hospital may delay the actual receipt of notice by hours or weeks. Most traffic crashes resulting in fatalities are not served at the scene but, many months later. Blood drawn at a crash means an investigation into DUI and a lawyer should be consulted immediately. Although it may come as a surprise to some, the Constitution applies to traffic tickets. Notions of Due Process, the evidence code and the right to a speedy trial all apply to traffic ticket cases like other criminal and civil cases. However, there are tremendous differences between the criminal and traffic rules or procedure. Due Process is basically the right to have notice and opportunity to be heard. Notice happens when the officer provides the citation to the accused driver. The citation is the only charging document in a traffic ticket case and can be the only charging document in a criminal case.

Failure to serve the citation is therefore a violation of the Constitutional right to Due Process. A ticket that is never served is subject to the Statute of Limitations. In a noncriminal violation, a prosecution must be commenced within 1 year after it is committed. A prosecution on a charge on which the defendant has not previously been arrested or served with a summons is commenced when a charging document is filed, provided the Summons or Information or other charging document is served to the person without unreasonable delay.

The government still has to serve the ticket without unnecessary delay. If they do not, then the case is dismissed. There is no cure for the government; it is a hard line. The reasonableness of the delay depends on the facts over the next year but, things to consider are a Defendant’s absence from the State, homestead declarations, licensing of any type or, in the old days searching the phone book, today that would be an internet or social media search.

A ticket filed but not served and therefore not addressed by the driver, will result in a suspended license for failing to address the citation. Usually, a client finds out when the driver’s license is suspended for failing to act, sometimes the Court will have issued points and suspended the license. When this happens, the Court may still allow for a hearing and we will file a sworn Motion claiming improper or lack of service. Many times, the suspension can be lifted pending the hearing.

In a civil traffic ticket, the accused does NOT have the right to have a lawyer appointed; however, a person always has the right to hire their own lawyer. For assistance responding to a traffic summons or suspension please click, call, or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Failure to stop for school bus, a traffic infraction in Florida

In Florida, a traffic ticket for failing to come to a stop for a school is a civil traffic infraction and not a criminal charge. The traffic law states that any driver “shall, upon approaching any school bus which displays a stop signal, bring such vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped, and the vehicle shall not pass the school bus until the signal has been withdrawn.” Failing to stop for a school bus is always a moving violation. Then it gets more confusing.

There is an exception and enhancements. When driving on a divided highway with an unpaved space of at least 5 feet, or a raised median, or a physical barrier, a driver travelling in the opposite direction of a school bus is not required to stop. If the driver is accused of passing the school bus on the side that children enter and exit while the school bus displays a stop signal, then the citation requires a mandatory hearing. The hearing is mandatory, but a driver with a lawyer does not have to attend court.

Upon a second or subsequent offense within a period of 5 years, the department of highway safety and motor vehicles is required to suspend the driver license of the person for not less than 90 days and not more than 6 months. Upon a second or subsequent offense of passing or failing to stop for a school bus on the side that children enter and exit that is within a period of 5 years, the department is required to suspend the driver license of the person for not less than 180 days and not more than 1 year. The 5 years is from the conviction date. Finally, if there was a crash that resulted in serious bodily injury to or death of another, then the Court is required to impose an additional civil penalty of $1,500 and the department is required to suspend the driver license of the person for not less than 1 year. Furthermore, taking an approved traffic school is required by law even if the Court withholds points. A lawyer can request the citation to be amended, but only at the hearing.

No driver accused only of a civil traffic ticket is required to appear in court, even if a hearing is required. A lawyer can save time and/or school elections and may be able to defend the case or obtain a good result regardless of the facts. Sometimes, the charge can be amended. Of course, every case is different. However, if a hearing is required, then the choices are to (1) go alone, (2) go with a lawyer or (3) let the lawyer attend on behalf of the driver. Hiring a lawyer familiar with the Court, the rules of procedure and evidence is better than being alone. Please call, click or fill out the contact form to hire a traffic lawyer.

Gainesville: (352) 371-9141

Ocala: (352) 694-4529

Traffic Ticket but Ain’t From Round Here – Out of State drivers ticketed in Florida

What if you received a traffic citation in Florida but you live in another state and cannot come back to fight the ticket in Court? There is a fundamental right to travel in the United States. However, when using the roads such as north Florida’s main arteries of I-75, US 301, US 441 a driver can be ticketed even if they ain’t from around here and are unfamiliar with the area. Some drivers call the office and feel that they may have even been targeted because they are from out of town or just visiting. We can defend the citation in court and maybe have it thrown out, dismissed or have a driver found not guilty, but we cannot change the circumstance that the driver stands accused. We defend against the accusation. 

Many out of state drivers cannot return to fight a ticket in court. Some drivers from other states or CDL drivers may require an amendment to the citation to avoid suspension, they cannot just pay it and they must elect to go to court. Some states do not honor an election of traffic school to remove points. However, all states are required by virtue of the United States Constitution’s Full Faith and Credit Clause to honor and respect a Florida Court’s Order. Therefore, if the Court withholds points, then the driver’s home state should as well. Many courts in north Florida will want the driver to provide their driving history or MVR.

In Florida, there is never a requirement that the driver personally appear in civil traffic court whatsoever. Even if the citation is marked that there is an appearance required, a person can still appear via the attorney instead of personally appearing. If the ticket is for a criminal traffic offense, an appearance is required, unless excused by the judge. A criminal traffic charge can be either a felony or a misdemeanor. A judge may excuse a Defendant from appearing but is not required to excuse anybody. Some judges will refuse to excuse defendants. Like everything else in the law, there is a proper procedure that many times requires an agreement with the State of Florida but is still always one hundred percent up to the judge.

Any person accused by the government should at least speak with a law firm instead of just paying a ticket. Sometimes, just paying a ticket, because it seems like the right thing, is the absolute wrong thing for the driver.  The court clerks cannot provide legal advice but will take the money. In civil traffic tickets, no lawyer will be appointed to a driver. To hire a traffic lawyer to go to court instead of an accused driver or with the accused, please click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

(Order out of state driving history/MVR from links to all states on the Resources page of the website)

Traffic Ticket Defense in a Single Vehicle Crash

Traffic tickets are issued for single vehicle or car crashes. A person ticketed for careless driving, failing to maintain a lane, or any other traffic citation charge brought as a result of a crash involving only one vehicle should always chose to take the infraction to court. In that instance the person cited received the ticket because there was an accident and for no other reason. 

If a lawyer is hired, the lawyer can go to court instead of the driver even if the citation is marked appearance required. In single car accident careless driving or other citations, the driver is likely the only witness to the accident. The State has to prove an accused guilty, and most of the time the officer or trooper did not witness the accident.

What evidence can they present without the driver being in court? None. If the driver admitted or made statements to the officer to complete the crash report, the officer cannot use any statements of the driver due to the accident report privilege. If an accused goes to court on their own, they can be asked questions and there is no right to remain silent in traffic tickets. The accused may have to admit to driving.

Hiring a traffic ticket defense lawyer can save points, and fine and court costs associated with the traffic citation for careless driving because without evidence, the State cannot meet their burden of proof which is beyond a reasonable doubt. Please click, call or fill out the form to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to attend court instead of the driver or with the driver.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Give me a break: Traffic Tickets that are reduced, changed or lowered roadside

Some traffic ticket clients mention that the officer “gave me a discount” or reduced the fine” at the stop. Otherwise we will hear “the ticket was supposed to be $ and he cited me $”. This can cause confusion and the trooper, deputy or officer will not likely clear it up. 

Instead, having chosen to issue a citation for an offense with a lower fine, the cop may have encouraged prompt payment of the money.  We hear this all the time, the client is nervous at the time of the stop and the officer really does not want to explain what just happened. What just happened, if this sounds familiar, is that the officer chose to accuse the driver of a violation with a lower fine than the accusation that could have been made. Maybe the officer wants to avoid argument or truly thinks they were doing a favor. This speculation puts a lot of people in a jam.

Resolving the ticket by just paying results in points on the driving history. Paying these and getting points on your license is probably still the worst option, a lower fine does not always mean less points. Depending on the citation, school may or may not be an option. You always have the option to take your citation to court.

The officer can amend the citation so long is that amendment is made before the hearing begins. Obviously there is no way to tell into the future what the officer will do on the day of the hearing. However, a traffic defense attorney’s job is to get the best result possible. Several cases get dismissed completely and there is no court fine, but that also means that several do not. Avoiding points, preserving school elections and of course having a day in court are much better options than just paying the fine, which is pleading guilty and getting points on your license. To hire a lawyer to fight or resolve your ticket please click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Traffic Tickets or Citations Marked “Infraction Court Appearance Required”

Some traffic tickets are issued as “Infraction Court Appearance Required” sometimes also referred to as Mandatory Appearance citations. The only choice is whether to hire a lawyer or go into court unrepresented.  In general, if the case requires an appearance, then the person should have counsel.  Failure to appear in court will cause harsh consequences. Near the bottom of a Uniform Traffic Citation, on the left hand side there are three boxes. From top to bottom those boxes should be Criminal Traffic, Court appearance required and, Infraction which does not require appearance in court.

If the citation requires an appearance, whether criminal or civil, then there is no option to elect traffic school. However, the Judge can send you to traffic school which does NOT count as a person making the choice or election to go to school. In civil infractions (not criminal traffic) it is the hearing itself that is mandatory and an attorney can attend the hearing on behalf of the driver without the driver being present in court. Remember a traffic lawyer knows the rules and law and may be able to defend the case regardless of the facts. In other words, our job is to make sure the matter can be proven beyond a reasonable doubt.

In mandatory cases, the Court starts with the proposition that you should get points on your license. Being polite road side can help to remove from the officer any personal interest in the accused driver. Threatening to complain or sue while interacting with the citing officer will just make things worse.

Do you go alone or with counsel? If you are reading this you have already decided to seek out more information. Because there are sixty seven counties in Florida there are sixty seven ways of doing things and an attorney can really help make the process smoother. Furthermore, the driver’s appearance through the lawyer satisfies the appearance requirement and an accused can go about their day without sitting in court. To hire a lawyer to go to court instead of the accused or with the accused, please click, call or fill out the form.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Speeding and other School Zone Citations

School zones are heavily monitored. Therefore, in traffic ticket defense, we see several citations issued to people for failing to stop at a red light (or behind the stop bar), failing to yield, failure to obey a traffic control device and of course speeding through a school zone. The cities on US Highway 301 (Waldo and Lawtey) still write a bunch of tickets even though their signage has improved over the years.

In cases involving a school zone, the officer is supposed to check the school zone to make sure that it was operating properly, at the appropriate time, prior to establishing their observation position. Admittedly, some school zones are better marked than others. Sometimes, people will say that they never saw the school zone flashing lights, signs or other traffic control device. Unfortunately, failing to observe any traffic control device is not a legal defense such that the Court will dismiss the ticket. We can still help.

There are legal reasons to dismiss cases such as an officer’s failure to show, failure in the documents, the lights flashing or not flashing at the wrong time, and other procedural defenses. These are reasons to hire a lawyer. An accused represented by a lawyer does NOT have to attend any hearings or give any testimony. In traffic court, if a defendant wants to provide a statement but cannot make it to the courthouse, any helpful testimony can be given via affidavit which is a notarized written statement.

Malfunctions do happen. If there is testimony that the school zone traffic control device or signal was seen but the lights were not flashing, in other words there was a malfunction in the traffic control device itself, then that can be useful. “I did not see the lights” will not get your case dismissed just as “I did not see” any other traffic control device would not because it is the driver’s duty to see and obey the traffic signs. It may help to mitigate a sentence but if the driver missed the lights, then they should really just let a traffic lawyer handle the citation and not say anything.

Lawyers know the law and rules of procedure and the cost to hire this office is minimal when considering the time of going to court for yourself. Please click, call or fill out the form to hire a ticket lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 371-9141

Do I have to go to court if I got a traffic ticket?

In traffic ticket defense a common question is whether the Defendant has to appear or show up in court.  There is no requirement that an accused be present. However, whether someone should go to court depends on the case itself.  In speeding tickets, the answer is almost always no, there is no need to attend.   Even if the officer checked the box “Infraction Court Appearance Required”, then the hearing itself is mandatory but the appearance by the client is still optional if they hire a traffic lawyer.

In traffic ticket accident cases such as failure to yield or careless driving, most of the time the traffic cop did not witness the accident.  Therefore the officer can only testify as to what was observed upon arrival at the scene of the crash.  Therefore, to prove the case, the Court will subpoena eye witnesses who saw the collision to testify in court.  If those witnesses do not appear, the case can be dismissed. If those witnesses do appear then the cases can still be defended and the State may not be able to prove the case if, for example, there are issues with the State’s witness(es) such as memory, they looked away or a mistake in the report.  Even if there is no evidence for the defense, the attorney will appear to challenge the evidence or lack of evidence, cite to the law and obtain the best result possible.

The attorney cannot testify for any witness. To present a defense, the attorney must use either live witness testimony or an affidavit (notarized written statement).  The rules of traffic court allow the use of affidavits where an affidavit cannot be used in a criminal case or most other cases.

Everybody has rights, so use them!  Moving violation cases deserve representation; the only way for the court to hear the Defendant’s side or to have the citation removed from the record is to elect to have a court hearing.  If you are going to have a hearing, then you should hire a lawyer.  Please click, call or fill out the form to get started.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Traffic Ticket Defense and Court Continuances

In the traffic ticket defense practice clients often ask for a continuance of the case. There seems to be some urban myth that if the court date or hearing is rescheduled, then it might make it more likely to conflict with schedules. Both the State via the officer and the driver or defendant can ask the court to change the trial date in a traffic citation case just like the opposing party in any other case be it criminal, injunction, family law or other civil case. 

When you hire a traffic lawyer or otherwise choose to fight your ticket in court, the Clerk will set a court date. If you file a motion to continue, then depending on the law enforcement agency, there is just as equal a chance that the schedule is coordinated with the officer’s agency. If that happens, then the defendant may have caused a greater chance that the officer would appear. If the first date conflicts with the traffic cop’s, then the request to continue may actually hurt the chances to have your ticket dismissed.  There also has to be a valid reason to ask the court to continue the case beyond hoping to create a scheduling conflict.

The inner workings of the courthouse can be just as confusing to the accused as a surgery would be to a carpenter or framing would be to the surgeon. We all have our jobs to do. Our pricing in civil traffic infraction defense competes with the cost of time off of work or in traffic school. Fill out the form to the right, click or call to hire a traffic lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Options after receiving a traffic ticket

Often times, people will call the office immediately after having received a traffic ticket and ask “what are my options?” The answer like everything else in the law is that “it depends”. Traffic citations can be criminal or civil infractions. People accused of some civil traffic infractions are required to have a hearing. We refer to these as mandatory citations or appearance required citations and the citaiton should have a box checked next to “Infraction court appearance required”. 

In most moving violation cases that are not criminal and there is no appearance required, the driver has three (3) choices: (1) Pay it, (2) elect school (3) elect a hearing. However, drivers with a commercial driver’s license, or CDL, cannot elect school to avoid points.  Just paying the ticket will be deemed an admission, points will be added to the license and the insurance premiums could be raised; therefore, points can effect employability. The choice to elect school to avoid points can only be made once every twelve (12) months and five (5) times in a lifetime.  To elect school, the school has to be paid, the citation has to be paid and the driver spends half a day either online or in a classroom. The first two options leave the ticket on the driving record.  Hiring a lawyer normally means electing a hearing. A driver with a CDL cannot elect school but, can elect a hearing where the Judge can remove points.

In criminal or ‘appearance required’ citations, there are no options. The accused should have been given a date to appear in court. If the accused fails to appear in a criminal traffic citation, then a warrant will be issued for arrest. If the accused fails to appear at a required traffic hearing, the Court could issue points on the license, issue fines, suspend the license and technically, could issue a warrant, though I have never seen it happen (Attorney since 2003).

In a criminal traffic case, hiring a lawyer can minimize court appearances for the accused or, sometimes, the lawyer can appear on behalf of the client meaning the accused never has to appear in court.  The only choice in criminal traffic cases, is to go to court, until a Judge orders otherwise, usually upon an agreement by the State of Florida.

In all civil traffic tickets whether appearance required or not, the attorney can appear for the driver. The driver does NOT have to appear; rather the driver appears via the traffic lawyer. It is the hearing not the appearance of the driver that is required. Therefore, the only choice is whether to go to court alone or with a lawyer. There are no public lawyers available for civil traffic ticket cases, an accused has to hire thier own lawyer. Considering the tuition of the school and the half a day in class or in court, the legal fees in a traffic ticket are very reasonable.

To avoid facing the government alone, to avoid court appearances or to avoid burning traffic school elections, please fill out the form, call or click to hire the firm.  You have rights, you should know them and use them!

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

More on whether the accused should go to court