Even the best drivers receive a traffic ticket from time to time. When should you retain an attorney to fight the ticket? In this article, I explain why you should fight most tickets and how to identify the tickets you should not fight.
1. If you receive a ticket in a state away from home, it will likely show up on your driving record.
All but five states participate in the Interstate Driver’s License Compact. The DLC is an agreement among those 45 states to exchange information concerning license suspensions and traffic violations of non-residents with the state in which the driver is licensed.
As of October 2014 the five states do not participate in the DLC are Georgia, Massachusetts, Michigan, and (most importantly for McHenry County, Illinois residents) Wisconsin. Those five states will not report the minor traffic infractions you receive in their state to the state that issued your license, and therefore, will not have a negative impact on your license.
If you receive a traffic ticket in any of the other 45 states, the offense will be reported to the state that issued your license, and admitting guilt will result in a negative mark on your license.
2. You have a Commercial Driver’s License (CDL).
If you are a professional driver, you likely know the CDL laws better than I do. But, it’s worth stating that every commercial driver has a DAC report which shows your drug/alcohol testing results, criminal record, motor vehicle record, social security number verification, credit reports, workers’ compensation history, and personal injury reports, among other information.
A bad DAC report will jeopardize your ability obtain employment if you’re currently idle and to move to a better employer if the opportunity presents itself. Guard your DAC report carefully because it literally represents your ability to make a living.
If you have a CDL, contest every ticket.
3. You are under the age of 21.
In Illinois, until you hit the age of 21, if you have two (2) moving violations in any 24 month period, your license will be suspended. If you are under the age of 21, contest every ticket every time. Having one moving violation conviction on your record is playing with fire, and you only need one additional inattentive moment before your license is suspended.
4. You are at risk of a license suspension.
If you carry an Illinois driver’s license and if you are an adult, your license will be suspended if you have three (3) moving violations in any 12 month period. A common refrain among Illinois drivers is that “we do not have driver’s license points in Illinois.” While this true in determining whether your license will be suspended, points are important in determining the length of time your license will be suspended when the suspension kicks in.
If you have a lot of points on your license for serious moving violations, your suspension can be for a long time. Section 1040.30 of the Illinois Administrative Code sets forth the length of your 3-and-out suspension:
- 0 – 14 points: No Action
- 15-44 points: 2-month suspension
- 45-74 points: 3-month suspension
- 75-89 points: 6-month suspension
- 90-99 points: 9-month suspension
- 100-109 points: 12-month suspension
- 110+: Revocation.
Don’t get caught trying to figure out how many points you have. Start contesting your tickets from the first one.
When shouldn’t you contest your ticket?
While every case is unique, generally, you should not contest your ticket if:
- It is not a moving violation. Most moving violations in Illinois are codified in Chapter 11 of the Illinois Vehicle Code. If your offense isn’t listed in there, it is probably not a moving violation and pleading guilty will have no effect on your license.
- Your ticket is a “No appearance required” ticket and you have the option to obtain Court Supervision with or without Traffic Safety School.
If you have any questions about whether to contest your ticket, you should give me a call. I will be honest with you and let you know whether you should fight your ticket.