Gainesville Personal Injury, Divorce and Alimony Attorney

No Points No School Tickets

There is no such thing as a traffic ticket for a moving violation being issued as “no points, no school”. Unfortunately, cops on the road seem to be telling people that they can get no points by paying a citation. That is not true.  (They give other misadvice too, see my blog on Bradford County Traffic Tickets). Paying a citation without talking to a lawyer first is the worst thing that you can do. This is because it is a plea of guilty, an admission to the offense, points will be assessed to your license, your insurance may increase and your guilty plea could be used against you later even if your guilty plea cannot be entered into evidence in another court proceeding. Entering a guilty plea by paying an infraction can be disastrous if you are accused of driving on a suspended license. 

When a citation is issued, you have three choices (1) pay it (2) school it and pay it (3) have a hearing in court. If it is paid without a hearing, then you get points. You can choose to go to school for four (4) hours to avoid points, but you still have to pay the citation, pay for the school and spend four (4) hours of your time. You can only choose school to avoid points five (5) times in your life and once every twelve (12) months. If you choose a hearing, then there is a chance the citation can be dismissed or depending on the officer and the county judge possibly reduced. Ultimately the sentence is up to the judge if the ticket is not dismissed. The judge can order school but that does not count as an election.

The ONLY way to get no points and no school on your citation is to elect a hearing and go to court. The Court has to order no points and no school; therefore you cannot get no points and no school without going to court. Sometimes people will ask “do I need a lawyer because it is just a ticket”. The answer is that you can represent yourself just like I could rebuild my own transmission or operate on my own shoulder. If you prefer not to be your own lawyer then please click, call or fill out the form to hire a lawyer and elect a hearing today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Bradford County Traffic Tickets – Traffic Defense in Starke, Lawtey & Hampton

Bradford County is located between Gainesville in Alachua County and Jacksonville in Duval County, Florida. Several agencies issue traffic tickets within Bradford County. The main police agencies are those of Starke and Lawtey. The towns of Brooker and Hampton do not have their own police force and the towns traffic laws are enforced by the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office.  The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) also issues citatations on the roads of Bradford County. Starke is the county seat of Bradford County.  All traffic hearings take place in Starke. 

In Bradford County, US 301 passes through Lawtey, Starke and Hampton and can be very congested as it travels through Starke.  Many people from out of the area are ticketed in the Lawtey school zone which occupies a short stretch of US Highway 301. There is another school zone also on US 301 within the city of Starke. Tickets issued in school zones are subject to double fines. Whether the infraction is issued by the FHP, Bradford Sheriff, Starke or Lawtey, all cases are heard in the Bradford County Courthouse located in Starke, Florida.

Sometimes the Bradford County Sheriff’s Office or the Starke Police will write on the citation that a person has ninety (90) days to respond to a citation. This is contrary to Florida law. If this happened on your ticket and you have gone beyond thirty (30) days, then you can no longer elect traffic school to avoid the points on your license. Your only choices are to either get points or attempt to get the points removed by the court.

The office handles all criminal and traffic matters in Bradford County, it’s municipalities and the surrounding areas. To hire a lawyer for your traffic ticket or criminal citation or arrest, click, call or fill out the form on this page.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Columbia County Traffic Tickets

The firm represents individuals who have received traffic tickets or criminal accusations in Columbia County, Florida, located in North Florida. Several people receiving citations in Columbia County are from out of state.  This is because Interstate 75 and Interstate 10, both heavily traveled by tourists and visitors to Florida, intersect just north of Lake City in Columbia County. The Florida Highway Patrol or FHP monitors traffic along both I-75 and I-10 corridors. 

Many people accused of speeding through Columbia County will argue that “there is no way the trooper got me on radar or laser based upon where the trooper was located”. Usually the trooper is hiding in the trees on the side of the highway. However, the FHP in Columbia County uses airplanes to monitor traffic. In Columbia County, it is likely the speed was measured from the air rather than the ground. A trooper in an airplane uses a stop watch to time drivers instead of a radar or laser. Just like any other speed measuring device, the stopwatch must be properly maintained and calibrated with proper documentation in order for the results to be entered into evidence.

White lines have been painted across the highway. A driver’s travel time across the lines is used to calculate the speed. If a car is speeding, a trooper on the highway is called by the troopers in the plane and told which vehicle to stop. The driver is identified and issued a speeding ticket. To prove the citation in court both the trooper who timed the vehicle and the trooper who initiated the traffic stop and identified the driver have to appear in court.

There are defenses that can be raised to defeat a traffic ticket. If you were issued an infraction in Columbia County, or any other county in North Florida, and would like to hire an attorney to represent you in traffic court, then please click, call or fill out the form to the right.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

North Florida Traffic Ticket Defense

Traffic ticket defense can be rewarding and frustrating. Florida has 67 counties. That means 67 different ways of doing things. Then within those counties different judges and hearing officers with different assistants that all seem to like things done differently too. That is the frustrating part. This is also why it is important that if you want to hire a lawyer to handle your traffic citation that you select an attorney that is from the county or regularly practices within the county where you received the ticket. Consider whether you would drive from the other end of the state to either Marion County or Columbia County for the fee we charge. Do you really want an attorney from a big city down south handling your traffic case in Alachua County or Bradford County? If you are a CDL driver, and need an amendment to the citation to keep your job, this should be an important consideration. 

Your attorney and their staff should be able to answer questions about the county where your traffic case is located. (Unless you are talking to the brand new staff person). For instance, do your attorney and their staff know the difference between criminal traffic court in Marion and Alachua County? How long does it take for the Clerk to set a hearing in traffic court in Bradford County versus Columbia County or Marion County? What do the words used by the Clerk mean? Will your case require a pre-trial? Do you have a chance to have your traffic ticket dismissed if the officer does not show at the next court date? In some counties like Duval and Columbia the answer could be no. In Columbia County it depends.  In Alachua County, Bradford County and Marion County the Court calls the final proceeding something different than that same proceeding in Duval County. What about Columbia County traffic court?

For any county, if you want representation when it goes to court call my office. I have actually appeared in 33 Florida counties as of the typing of this blog. Primarily we take cases in Alachua, Bradford, Citrus, Columbia, Levy, Marion and are moving into Duval, but have serviced others and no two counties do things the same. If you have a traffic case, hire local. Call, click or fill out the form at the top right of the page for a consultation.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Traffic Ticket Capital Waldo, Florida Disbands its Police Department

Recently, the city of Waldo, in Alachua County, Florida disbanded its police department.  This means that every person who has received a citation from any Waldo city police officer should take their citation to court.  This is because I believe that many officers will not show in court. If the officer fails to appear, the traffic ticket will be dismissed.

While I cannot make any promises or guarantees, the Gainesville Sun reports that at least one officer, Officer Roberts, has said he will not come to court and an attorney reported another officer, Officer Logan will not come to court.  With Ken Smith and Mike Szabo already on suspension, that is four Waldo officers which is over half the department that will likely not show in court.   

It looks like the Waldo ticket machine is gone for good.  According to the article, Waldo traffic citations are down by two thirds.  Now the sheriff’s office will be patrolling the streets of Waldo with one deputy part of the time, instead of up to four officers all of the time.  The sheriff disbanded their traffic unit a few years ago.

If you or someone you know received a ticket in Waldo or anywhere else in Florida, then call, click or fill out the form to the top right to hire a lawyer today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Read the article here

Waldo Florida traffic ticket quota backlash

The city of Waldo, Florida issues a lot of traffic tickets. In fact, Waldo has been designated a speed trap. Waldo traffic ticket cases have attracted national attention recently due to the suspension of the police chief and his replacement. Just days after I blogged about how officers regularly deny the existence of traffic ticket quotas, news broke that the Waldo police chief and a corporal did in fact have and enforce a citation quota. 

Just as anticipated the city manager argued that the quota was only meant to assure that city police officers were staying productive. Frankly, the requirement that the officers issue one citation per hour is hardly motivational. An objective observer of traffic flow would tell you that there are many more than one traffic violation per hour. I actually have had a client pay to monitor a road for speeding violations and the numbers were astronomical. Almost every vehicle was speeding. I once deposed a trooper who monitored I-75. He said that if he was trying to be fast and provided there are no searches or arrests, then he thought he could issue a citation every fifteen minutes all day long. Now that Chief Szabo is suspended and Corporal Ken Smith has resigned, that does not mean Waldo will issue less tickets. It just means the officers will not be subject to quotas.

The number of the quota is not the issue. Traffic quotas are illegal under Florida law. There were other issues reported that led to the resignation. Officer Smith had been appearing in court, whether he appears now is a different matter. Whether your traffic infraction case was from Waldo or any other town in North Florida, call, click or fill out the form at the top right of the page for a consultation into your matter today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Waldo, Florida Traffic Ticket Quotas

The top was blown off an illegal traffic ticket quota requirement at the city of Waldo, Florida just days after I issued a blog about traffic ticket quotas. According to a presentation by several officers to the city council, Waldo, long designated a speed trap, did in fact maintain an illegal traffic ticket quota. While this traffic citation quota allegation remains under investigation, two officers have been suspended. Obviously, those officers failed to appear in court this morning. 

My guess is that while the investigation continues, the suspended officers will continue failing to appear in court. Because I actually take traffic infractions to court, the officer’s appearance is required. When the officer fails to appear, then the traffic ticket case should be dismissed.

I have yet to see a smoking gun on the allegations, however, several officers claimed that the Waldo Police Chief said that the officers should be writing a citation per hour. The problem with quotas is that it creates an incentive or motivation to issue citations that are questionable. If an officer can lose their job for failing to write tickets, then that officer is motivated by self preservation and not law enforcement. Traffic ticket quotas have been illegal in Florida since 1992.

If you or a loved one received a ticket for any traffic violation in Florida then click, call or fill out the form at the top right of the page to hire a lawyer today.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Traffic Ticket Quotas

When it comes to traffic tickets, several people claim to ‘know’ that officers have quotas on how many tickets they are supposed to write in any given month. If you ask any Florida local law enforcement officer, they will assure you that there are no quotas in their department. At least that is what they all tell me. The fear of traffic infraction quotas is that the officers are writing to meet quotas and not for the traffic violation itself. 

I am also told, however, that officers designated as traffic enforcement officers, like all other police or employees are reviewed.  At those reviews, the number of tickets the cop writes is tracked. This means that the departments are tracking the numbers. Essentially at a traffic enforcement officer’s review the supervisor will know how many tickets the officer wrote and can compare that number to other officers. Cops with low traffic ticket numbers are apparently given lower performance reviews. What is the officer doing out there if not writing traffic tickets? While Gainesville, Waldo, Lawtey, Ocala and Florida Highway Patrol have all denied to me that quotas exist, they do admit the number of traffic citations are kept and reviewed.

In at least one state, the fear of quotas was so great that the governor recently signed a bill into law banning ticket quotas. According to the article I read, Illinois’ Governor said the move was to boost public trust and prevent motorists from facing unnecessary anxiety when they encounter a police vehicle. Quotas are bad but if the officers are needing that to motivate them to enforce the laws, then maybe we should reexamine why they are officers to begin with.

Anybody traveling in Bradford or Alachua County should know that towns like Waldo and Lawtey have no issues writing a high volume of tickets. Honestly all you have to do is observe traffic on I-75 in Marion, Alachua or Columbia County to see that no quotas are needed and that the troopers can write speeding tickets all day long.

If you or a loved one received a ticket in Alachua, Bradford, Columbia or Marion County, then please click, call or fill out the form at the top right for a consultation.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Do officers and witnesses appear at traffic hearing?

A question that is regularly asked of me is whether officers and witnesses appear at traffic hearings. The communities of Gainesville, Waldo and Alachua (Alachua County) or Ocala, Belleview and Dunnellon (Marion County) or Starke and Lawtey (Bradford County) or Lake City (Columbia County) are very different than the communities in South Florida.  My understanding is that no show rates are higher down south, regardless, here in North Florida, witnesses and officers do fail to appear. 

All officers and witnesses are subpoenaed to appear. Everyone knows that they are supposed to show up. Notwithstanding the issuance of a subpoena, people still fail to appear. There could be a problem with the service, a conflict in schedules, or the officer or trooper could be responding to an emergency.

This week in traffic infraction court in Alachua County I covered eleven (11) cases. The communities of Waldo, the Alachua County Sheriff, Gainesville, and the Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) on I-75 and rural roads were all subpoenaed to appear. Five (5) cases were dismissed due to the officers or witnesses failure to appear. One of the cases was a single car crash and the driver was represented. I always say that if you are cited for careless driving and no other person was involved, then you MUST be represented because the State cannot prove their case. This person having taken that advice had their careless driving single car crash case dismissed.

The life lesson is that if a person is facing an accusation from the government you should hire a lawyer to defend you in court and make the government prove the accusation. If you or a family member is cited for any traffic or criminal matter, please click or call today to hire a lawyer to represent you in court.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529

Traffic Ticket Lawyer

There is a large set of the population that has no idea what a traffic ticket defense lawyer does.  It is very much the same as what a criminal defense lawyer does which is to ensure that the government is held to their burden and that it can prove the case while actually following the constitution, the law and the rules. It is not about whether the government has sufficient evidence to prove the violation; it is about whether the government can actually admit such evidence into court while following the constitution and laws. 

For example, EVERY Dunnellon red light camera case handled by this firm was dismissed!  However, several people who chose to proceed unrepresented did not have their cases dismissed, paid fines to the government and earned themselves sometimes permanent marks on their driving histories instead. In these cases, the unrepresented simply did not know what to do when the Dunnellon city officer showed up in the Marion County courthouse in Ocala to prove the traffic ticket.

Why can a lawyer get cases dismissed and the unrepresented are getting marks on their driving history and paying fines? This happens in criminal and traffic court all the time. Lawyers are supposed to do the research and have law to back them up. The unrepresented may not know when to object or what to say. The rules of evidence actually do apply in civil traffic infraction cases.

While the unrepresented may say nothing, a lawyer objects to attempts to improperly admit evidence. The government could be left with no way to identify the driver in most crash cases. In a traffic ticket case a lawyer can represent the driver in their absence and the driver does not have to be present to be identified.  While some judges do not like the rule that allows an absent driver yet still requires the government prove identity beyond a reasonable doubt, most judges will follow the law and dismiss the case if the identity of the offender cannot be proven.

The life lesson to readers is that if you or a loved one are about to be in front of a judge in traffic court, criminal court or any other court, then you should consider hiring a lawyer. Click or call today to hire a defense lawyer.

Gainesville (352) 371-9141

Ocala (352) 694-4529