Traffic Tickets can be classified into Moving Violation and Equipment Violations. Moving Violations can be either a Petty Offense, Misdemeanor Offense or even a Felony Offense.
Traffic Tickets can be a serious legal matter that may impact you for years to come- but how do you know? We are often asked by possible clients if they need an attorney for a traffic offense. Give our experienced traffic attorneys a call for a free consultation. While the answer will very based on the individual case, what follows below may help you decide.
You Should Hire an Attorney If:
1. Your Time is More Valuable than Sitting in Traffic Court- There is a huge advantage to hiring an attorney for traffic court. For many offenses your attorney can enter a plea on your behalf- without you needing to appear in court. Furthermore, if you do need to appear, experienced attorneys can usually get you in and out faster. For minor traffic violations, some people are surprised that paying an attorney to appear in court for their case is around the same cost as taking a day off work. So would you rather have a day of vacation or sit in traffic court?!
2. You Believe You Are Not Guilty- As stated above, your traffic history will follow you. So if you believe you are not guilty of the offense charged and want to fight the ticket by having a trial, you need an experienced traffic lawyer like Mike O’Donnell or Ingrid Nierman to evaluate your case and if necessary conduct the trial or hearing. Keep in mind, even in traffic court you are going against experienced prosecutors who have often done many similar trials before. In addition, the police officer has likely testified in numerous traffic trials before. Furthermore, just like in a serious criminal trials, you will be held to the rules of evidence and trial procedure- even if you are not an attorney. Finally, because judges have the discretion to not give court supervision after a trial, if you lose you may be facing a conviction and higher fines, cost or conditions. This may affect your ability to keep your drivers license or increase your insurance cost.
3. You Are Charged with Aggravated Speeding- Speeding 26 to 34 mph or more above speed limit is not a petty offense, it is a misdemeanor criminal offense. In fact, the offense is a Class B Misdemeanor, punishable by up to six months in jail and a $1,500 fine plus any mandatory court costs. Speeding 35 mph or more above the speed limit is even more serious and is a Class A Misdemeanor, punishable by up to twelve months in jail and a $2,500 fine plus court costs. To put it in perspective a first or second offense of DUI is also a class A misdemeanor. Many clients come to us after they are shocked to hear the possible sentence range by the judge and then ask for a continue to hire an attorney. Despite these possible severe sentences, you have options and defenses. Ingrid Nierman and Mike O’Donnell will evaluate your situation and mount a vigorous defense. We have a track record of success at getting our clients charges dismissed, amended to a petty traffic offense or a sentence of court supervision. Sometimes we can accomplish this without our clients needing to go to court.
4. You Are Charged with Driving While License Suspended or Revoked- Driving While License Suspended is a class A misdemeanor. There are also mandatory minimum penalties and higher penalties for multiple offenses. In addition, being convicted of this charge will increase the length of the suspension or revocation. Experienced traffic attorneys like Mike O’Donnell and Ingrid Nierman can assist you in clearing up your license and avoiding increased suspensions.
5. You Have a Poor Driving Record- Your driving history is available to the prosecutors in court. Even past sentences of court supervision are tracked (its a misconception that there is no record of court supervision). Thus, if you have had tickets in the past, it’s very likely that the prosecution will use that in considering what sentence to recommend to the judge and the judge will consider such “aggravating factors” in determining the appropriate sentence. In such situations, a skilled traffic attorney like Mike O’Donnell or Ingrid Nierman will negotiate for you and present mitigation to put you in the best light possible.
6. You Have a CDL- If you have a Commercial Drivers License, getting court supervision is the same as getting convicted. Your livelihood is at stake. An experienced attorney like Mike O’Donnell or Ingrid Nierman can fight your traffic ticket or present mitigation to the prosecution to negotiate a lessor charge.
7. You are Under 21 Years of Age- It may seem unfair, but the Secretary of State treats drivers under 21 differently. There are good reasons for this as traffic crashes are the leading cause of death for people age 15 to 20. Illinois has some of the toughest Graduated Drivers License restrictions in the county. To obtain court supervision for a traffic violation, a driver must appear in court with a parent/legal guardian (or attorney) and also must attend traffic safety school. Additional restrictions are:
• Limit of one court supervision for "serious" driving offenses.
• A moving violation conviction before age 18 generates a Secretary of State warning letter to the parent and teenager.
• A moving violation conviction that occurs within the first year of licensing will result in a six-month extension of the passenger limitation, which allows only one unrelated passenger under age 20.
• Two moving violation convictions occurring within a 24-month period results in a minimum one-month driver’s license suspension. Suspension length is determined by the seriousness of the offenses and the driver’s prior driving history. An additional driver’s license suspension will result for each subsequent moving violation following the initial suspension.
• Suspended drivers must attend a remedial education course, may be retested and must pay a $70 reinstatement fee.
• Any person under age 18 who has unresolved traffic citations will be denied issuance of a driver’s license.
• Driver's License Suspension for Nighttime Driving Restriction Violation – A person under the age of 18 who violates the nighttime driving restriction may have their driving privileges suspended.
• Driver's License Suspension for Alcohol Consumption — A person under the age of 21 who is found guilty or granted court supervision for a violation of state law or local ordinance relating to illegal consumption, possession, purchase or receipt of alcohol, regardless of whether a vehicle was involved will face a loss of driving privileges, in addition to any fine imposed. Court supervision for any of these offenses will result in a 3 month suspension of driving privileges; a first conviction results in a 6 month suspension of driving privileges; a second conviction results in a 12 month suspension of driving privileges and a third or subsequent conviction will result in a revocation of driving privileges.
You MAY Not Need an Attorney If:
1. Your Ticket is Not a Must Appear- If the ticket says you can mail in the payment AND receive court supervision. Then you may save on court cost and time by not appearing in court. However, make sure you will receive court supervision because a conviction will likely increase your insurance rates and possibly suspend your drivers license.
2. Your Offense is Not One of the Following- Driver's license or driver’s permit violations, passing a stopped school bus or speeding in a posted work construction zone or speeding in a school zone, all violations which are a Class A or B misdemeanor. This is only a sample list and there are offenses not listed. These offense are serious moving violations that may lead to a suspended license and or increased insurance rates.
3. You Are Court Supervision Eligible- Normally you can only receive court supervision 2 times in a year period. Keep in mind there are several offenses where court supervision is not a sentencing option for the court. Furthermore, court supervision is awarded at the discretion of the court by balancing mitigation and aggravation and is NOT automatic. If you are unsure if you are eligible for court supervision, you need to call the Law Offices of O'Donnell and Nierman for a free consultation.
4. You Have an Excellent Driving Record- Still you may want to call the Law Offices of O’Donnell & Nierman to get a free consultation to ensure you keep your excellent record!
Get In Touch
For After Hours Assistance Call: 630-601-7927
290 South County Farm Rd.
Wheaton, IL 60187
For After Hours Assistance