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Traffic Ticket FAQ
At the Ludeman Law Firm, we handle all sorts of traffic tickets all over the Kansas City area - in both Kansas and Missouri. Whether you would like to plea your ticket or fight it, we can help. If you have a ticket, give us a call or use the form to the left to send along your information.
Why hire a lawyer for your traffic ticket?
The reasons are many. First and foremost, you should understand that when you simply pay a traffic ticket, you are pleading guilty to the offense. When you plead guilty, you will accumulate points on your Missouri license or moving violations on your Kansas license. Too many points or moving violations and your driving privileges may be threatened
Second, your auto insurance rates can increase for traffic violations that appear on your driving record. Too many tickets and your insurance carrier may drop your coverage altogether.
For people who drive for a living, keeping a clean driving record is necessary to their employment. Commercial license holders have the same options as non-commercial drivers when it comes to keeping their driver record clean.
What can a lawyer do for my ticket?
The most common and cost effective option for most traffic ticket clients is to hire an attorney to negotiate a plea to keep their traffic ticket off of their driving record. In most Missouri jurisdictions, lawyers seek an amendment of the ticket. An amendment means the prosecutor and defense lawyer agree to reduce the charge listed on the ticket to a non-moving one. In some Kansas jurisdictions, diversion is used instead of amendment. Diversion means that the prosecutor agrees to dismiss the traffic ticket (at a later date) upon certain conditions. In most cases, when someone talks about "beating at ticket" or "fixing a ticket," they are referring to an amendment or diversion.
A lawyer can also fight your ticket by setting it for trial. This option is usually more expensive than seeking a plea bargain and the outcome is not predictable. A lawyer can advise the client on the feasibility of a trial for your particular ticket because of familiarity with local courts, prosecutors, and officers who will testify.
Points and Your Missouri Driver Record
Each moving violation in the State of Missouri results in a certain number of points on your driving record. For example, speeding tickets in cities (municipalities) result in two points on your license, while speeding tickets from the State result in three points on your license.
If you receive eight points within eighteen months, your driver's license will be suspended by the Department of Revenue. Twelve points in twelve months, eighteen points in twenty-four months, or twenty-four points in thirty-six months, and your license will also be suspended.
Moving Violations and Your Kansas Driver Record
Kansas does not use a point system in regulating traffic violations and your driver record. Instead, if you receive more than three "moving violations" in Kansas within a twelve month period, your license will automatically be suspended for one year.
Most speeding tickets can be amended to non-moving violations that will not appear on your record. However, in situations where there is excessive speed or speed in a school or work zone, the ticket may not be amendable. Additionally, nearly every jurisdiction will limit the ability of those with multiple previous violations to plea their ticket.
Other Moving Violations
Like speeding tickets, other traffic tickets for offenses like failure to stop at a stop sign or failing to signal for a turn are considered moving violations that will go on your driving record. Also, like speeding tickets, most of these offenses are amendable if you hire a lawyer.
If you are ticketed for careless driving or failure to yield the right of way that involves an accident, a lawyer can also help negotiate plea on your behalf. This is especially helpful since often moving violations involving an accident can incur more points.
Driving While Suspended or Driving While Revoked
Driving while suspended ("DWS") and driving while revoked tickets are very serious tickets and can result in jail time. If you plead guilty to a DWS ticket, your license will be suspended for an even longer period. In Missouri, this is an automatic one year suspension. In Kansas, the minimum suspension period is ninety days and can be up to five years based on your driving history.
If you believe your license has been suspended or revoked, you should call the Missouri Department of Revenue or Kansas Driver Control to find out the basis of the suspension or revocation.
The most common basis for a suspension if failure to comply with a traffic citation. If you take care of these open citations, the suspension can be lifted. You may also be suspended for too many points or too many moving violations. In most cases, these are temporary suspensions, and it is a just a matter of waiting for the suspension period to pass.
If you are suspended because you pled guilty to a ticket and were assessed too many points, a lawyer can set aside your guilty plea and start your case anew so that you can undo the suspension.
Driving With Out Insurance and No Insurance Tickets
Driving without insurance is also a serious traffic violation. In Missouri, it is a four-point violation, which can take a heavy toll on you record. In Kansas, receiving a no insurance ticket can result in the automatic suspension of your license. In either state, you will likely also be required to provide proof of financial responsibility (usually an SR-22 form) after receiving such a ticket in order to have your license reinstated.
You should also know that if you drive without insurance and are involved in an accident, you could lose your driver license indefinitely. If you are determined to be at fault, you will be personally liable for any accident damages. If you are not able to pay those damages, you will not be able to drive legally until you can.
Pro Se Traffic Ticket Trials
Pro se is a latin term for someone who is self represented at court instead of someone who is represented by a lawyer. I have witnessed many pro se traffic trials in my years. Very few went successfully. I think the first issue is that many people are mistaken in believing that the officer won't appear during their trial. If the officer is not at the first court appearance and you request a trial, the court will automatically continue your case for a date that the officer will be available to testify. You shouldn't count on the case being dismissed on the first appearance.
I may be biased, but I strongly recommend that unless you are familiar with courtroom procedures and what kinds of statements and questions are appropriate during a trial, that you do not attempt a trial on your own.