It happens to everyone sometime. You see those red and blue lights flashing in your rear view mirror and hear the siren wail. You’re being pulled over by a cop, and you’re probably getting a ticket too. In 2016, one third of all traffic stops by the Texas Highway Patrol resulted in a citation. And while you may end up having to just pay that ticket, there’s a lot you can do to try and fight it, especially if you feel it was given unfairly.
Houston attorney Ashton Adair started his legal career in Harris County, prosecuting class C misdemeanors, including traffic tickets. And after years of experience as a court-appointed attorney, a criminal defense lawyer, working on real estate and personal injury cases as well, he’s back to specializing in traffic tickets. So Adair, a Texas Legal network attorney, is an expert when it comes to what to do and not to do when you’re pulled over and how best to fight a traffic ticket. Here’s his best advice on getting and fighting a traffic citation.
Save the Fight for the Courtroom
When it comes to the traffic stop itself, Adair has three pieces of advice.
“Be polite, accept the ticket, be on your way,” he says.
It’s easy to be frustrated or upset at the thought of getting or having to pay a ticket. Maybe you think you’re being treated unfairly or didn’t deserve a citation. And you might be right, Adair says. But it’s important to stay cool with a police officer and keep the situation from escalating.
“It’s not always the easiest thing to accept, but just sign the ticket,” says Adair. “It does not mean you’re guilty, and you have plenty of time in court to fight it.”
If You Think You’re Right, Say So, But Don’t Push It
Awhile back, Adair was driving when he got pulled over by an officer. He mentioned to the officer that he had a license to carry a concealed weapon, but he didn’t have the license with him because he wasn’t carrying a gun. The officer said the law required him to have it on him at all times.
“I knew that wasn’t the case, and as a lawyer, I have expertise in the law, but I didn’t push it,” said Adair. “I told him I’d double check that and make sure I have it next time. ”
If you think you haven’t broken the law, it’s alright to mention it so that it will be on the video footage taken by the officer’s body or dashboard camera. But don’t start an argument, especially with an officer who is short-tempered. You don’t want to end up arrested or in an altercation.
Get a Lawyer
Adair recommends that Texas Legal members to get a lawyer to fight their ticket because it’s free and covered under their legal protection plan. Without a lawyer, says Adair, you have almost no chance of getting your ticket dismissed. But with a lawyer, you’re much more likely to find a way out of it.
“There are many times when there’s a defect in the ticket itself or a strategy that can be used to fight it. Sometimes the locations won’t always match up, or maybe it’s the right location, but the wrong speed limit. I’ve seen ones where the officer wrote down a location that doesn’t even exist,” says Adair.
In addition, a lawyer can check the notes an officer made on the ticket and see if anything was unusual. Lawyers also have the opportunity to see the video of the ticket ahead of time, something someone representing themselves might not get to do. Adair also notes that just having an attorney on your side can make many people feel more comfortable and relaxed.
Know the Consequences
Even if you don’t hire a lawyer to fight the ticket, it’s probably a good idea to consult a lawyer about what the consequences of your ticket might be, especially if you’ve had other tickets in the past. Multiple convictions or convictions for certain traffic violations can result in a suspended license. It may seem cheaper to just pay the fine and move on than to pay a lawyer, but in the long run, the consequences of the conviction may cost you more, says Adair.
So the next time you’re faced with a traffic ticket, don’t despair. Remember that you can use your Texas Legal membership to get the help of an expert attorney and fight it. From big legal battles to small legal headaches, having a lawyer and Texas Legal on your side will save you money and give you priceless peace of mind.