One of the most inconvenient and nerve racking experiences a person can go through is getting pulled over by the police. Seeing the red and blue lights flashing behind your vehicle can be a scary experience. This blog is meant to give some tips on the best way to handle a traffic stop and to deal with a traffic ticket.
When a person is stopped by the police it is best to act in the following manner:
- Pull over in a quick and SAFE manner. If possible, it would be ideal to pull into a parking lot or park on a side road;
- Have your license, registration, and proof of insurance easily accessible;
- KEEP YOUR SEATBELT ON;
- Keep your hands on the wheel so the officer can see them;
- BE POLITE – don’t cop an attitude
Following these tips will not necessarily get you out of a ticket. However, making it easier for the officer will not hurt your chances. Being rude or showing an attitude will guarantee you a ticket.
If a person receives a traffic ticket for a petty violation (i.e. speeding or improper lane usage…), there are 3 options:
- Plead guilty – send the ticket and the fine to the court through the mail. The big advantage of mailing in the fine is to avoid going to court. However, there is a good chance that this will result in a traffic conviction. Before mailing in the ticket and fine, make sure the ticket gives you an option for supervision.
- Plead guilty in court – By going to court, if the person has a good traffic record, there is a good chance a judge will give supervision. This means the ticket will not go on his or her traffic record.
- Plead not guilty – By pleading not guilty, the court will set a trial date. At the trial, the person will be able to give their side of the story to the judge. The judge will decide if the person is guilty or innocent on the ticket.
Many clients have asked me if their ticket will be dismissed if the police officer is not present in court. On the initial court date, the ticket will not be dismissed. The case has to be set for trial. If the officer is not present on the trial date, most of the time, the judge will throw out the ticket. A trial date can be set by mailing the ticket in and requesting a trial or by asking for a trial date on the initial court date.
The consequences of pleading guilty or being found guilty on a petty traffic violation are as follows:
- Supervision- the violation will not go on the person’s traffic record. This means that insurance companies will not be able to see the violation if a person’s record is searched. In Illinois, a person is only eligible for two supervisions in a 12 month period.
- Conviction – the violation will go on the person’s traffic record. If a person over 21 years old receives three convictions in a 12 month period, their license will be suspended by the Illinois Secretary of State. If a person under 21 years old receives two convictions in a two year period, their license will be suspended.
- Traffic school – 4 hour online traffic school or 8 hour traffic school
Fines and court costs: The typical fine can range from $75.00 to $150.00 depending on the petty traffic violation. If a person sends the money in the mail without going to court, it will avoid court costs. If a person goes to court to resolve the ticket, court costs will be added to the fine. Court costs can range from $250.00 and up. The court costs are set by the State of Illinois. By not going to court on a petty traffic violation, a person will save a significant amount of money, however, the trade off is that the person will likely end up with a conviction on their traffic record.
A person can get a copy of their traffic record (driving abstract) at the DMV office of the IL Secretary of State. It costs between $8 to $10.
If you find yourself in legal trouble due to a traffic stop or traffic ticket, selecting the right Attorney to represent you is important. I recommend selecting an Attorney who may be familiar with local jurisdiction and/or law enforcement officials. Choosing an Attorney who is familiar with local laws and the nuances of your County Court, could prove beneficial to the outcome of your case.