Published on 02/26/2019
Our firm (iTicket.law) only represents traffic citations in the state of North Carolina, so what we’re talking about today mostly applies to North Carolina, but can probably be generalized in terms of hiring an attorney nationwide.
The benefits of hiring an attorney are basically twofold when you’re talking about resolving a traffic citation:
First, there’s the value of experience. As attorneys, we don’t have any undue influence over the court. We can’t just go in and speak sweet words to the judge or the DA to have your case dismissed. What we can use is our experience and our knowledge of the court system, of North Carolina traffic law, and of North Carolina insurance regulations to try to come to the very best beneficial resolution of your case by working through the legal process.
When thinking about the added value of experience - North Carolina attorneys who focus on traffic law have that experience that comes with being in front of the court every single day - of talking with the District Attorney about similar cases every single day - and they’re able to bring that experience and that knowledge to the table in your particular case.
When thinking about handling a citation on your own, oftentimes here at the office we liken it to what happens if you have leaky pipes at your house. Do you want to call a plumber to help you resolve that situation, or do you want to handle it on your own? Now, if you’re an experienced plumber in your own right and you look down in your basement to see a bunch of leaky pipes, you can jump down there with your tools and fix it. But if you don’t have any experience in fixing leaky pipes and you’ve never done a plumbing job in your life, if you get under your house and start messing around with your plumbing, there’s a good chance you’re going to be flooding the house and that’s something that can have long-lasting consequences.
Similarly, having an attorney help you resolve a traffic citation brings their experience and their knowledge to bear in resolving the situation. If you go in there and try to handle your traffic citation yourself, there’s a good chance that you may not know what the best resolution to your case would even be, and that means might not know if that potential outcome could lead to that drastic increase of your insurance premium, or potentially even the suspension of you license from 30 days to one year.
We get calls to our office all the time from people who have handled a traffic citation on their own. Then, they realize 30 to 60 days after the fact that the way that they’ve closed that case has caused a suspension of their license - and now they need to hire us after the fact to come back in and reopen that case, which is oftentimes much more expensive than if they had simply called us on the front-side of the case to handle it originally.
So, there is an added value to the experience that our attorneys, or any other attorney can bring to the table in resolving your traffic citation that is invaluable in making sure that the case is handled right the first time around, rather than having to come back and pick up the pieces after the fact.
Secondly, there’s a simple opportunity cost in handling the citation yourself. When appearing in court, it is not unusual for you to have to appear at 8:30 in the morning and you may not get out until noon, 12:30, maybe even 2 or 3 o’clock in the afternoon. There is also no guarantee that your case will actually be heard on the hearing date that you’ve been told to be in court for. Because if you go up to the DA and try to contest any of the charges against you, they’ll likely tell you that they need to subpoena the officer and have that officer brought in for a trial, and that means that you’re going to come back on another day when the officer’s present. If the officer doesn’t show the next time that you’re scheduled to be in court, the DA will ask the court to give them a continuance to allow the officer to appear and then you’re going to have to come back to court a third time, maybe even a fourth or a fifth depending on how lenient the court is on allowing subpoenaed officers to appear.
So, when thinking about handling a traffic citation yourself, there’s an opportunity cost - you may have to take off vacation time, sick time, maybe even make your boss mad by having to call in very late at the last minute because you decided that you didn’t want to hire an attorney. Whereas if you do decide to hire an attorney, you don’t have to worry about taking that time off, which many times would be a loss of income that would be equal to or greater than what it could cost to hire an attorney to represent you in the first place.
In conclusion, there is an opportunity cost in representing yourself and, coupling that with the added value of the experience that a traffic attorney would bring to the table in representing you, our advice is that it’s always a better bet to hire an attorney to represent you to help resolve a North Carolina traffic citation.