Decide Whether the Ticket Is Worth Fighting
First off, decide whether it's worth your time to fight a ticket with a lawyer. Traffic violations can be difficult to fight, particularly if it's your word against the word of the arresting officer. Its certainly possible, but fighting traffic tickets with a lawyer can take a lot of time and effort and usually cost more than the ticket itself in the long run. If a ticket means thousands of dollars in increased insurance premiums it might be worth your time to fight it. But generally it is just easier to pay the fine that comes with the ticket.
All traffic charges are either violations or crimes. Violations (formerly called “infractions”), are the less serious matters, such as speeding or failure to use a turn signal. Violations are not considered crimes because there is no potential jail sentence. You have fewer rights on a traffic violation than a traffic crime. When charged with a violation only, you have the right to a trial, but your case will be heard by a judge; there is no right to a jury trial. Also, if you are charged only with a violation, you have no right to a court appointed attorney because there is no possibility of your going to jail or prison. However, you may hire your own attorney.
Traffic crimes, such as DUI or Reckless Driving, are usually misdemeanors punishable by fines of up to $6,250 and up to one year in a county jail. In extreme cases, DUI can be a felony as well, punishable by lengthy prison sentences and fines up to $125,000 if you have been convicted for DUIs in the past or there are particularly bad facts involved in your case. There can also be a license suspension and probation conditions. There will be a six-person jury trial, unless you decide you don't want a jury to hear the case and are willing to let a judge decide the case. If you are accused of a traffic crime you have the same rights as in any criminal case. You have the right to be represented by an attorney, and you have the right to a jury trial and many other rights your lawyer will explain to you.
Don’t ignore the ticket; that will cost you more in the long run. Determine how you will plead and then look into the course of action you must take before the deadline on your citation. If you don’t act in time, the court can issue a warrant for your arrest and suspend your driver’s license. Not being able to make the court date is not a valid excuse.
Reschedule Your Court Date
Rather than missing your court appearance and facing even more penalties, contact the court to reschedule. If you plan on paying and can’t meet the payment deadline, inquire about pushing that date back. It might be worth a shot.