DO I HAVE TO GO TO COURT?
Most Kansas City metro courts do not require that you appear if you have hired a lawyer to represent you in a traffic matter. Your initial consultation with the attorney regarding your specific traffic ticket will determine whether you will need to go to court.
WHAT DOES “AMENDING” A TRAFFIC TICKET MEAN?
The majority of courts in the metro Kansas City area have policies that allow persons charged with traffic offenses to plead guilty to certain non-moving or no-points violations, instead of the original traffic charge, and then pay a higher fine amounts. The specific policies vary by jurisdiction, but generally in Kansas, a speeding ticket may be amended to “illegal parking” for a fine and court costs. In Missouri, a speeding ticket may be amended to “defective equipment” (broken speedometer), which is a non-moving violation with higher fines.
YOU SAY IT MAY BE AMENENDED, IF I HIRE A LAWYER AREN’T I GUARANTEED AN AMENDED TICKET?
The overwhelming majority of traffic tickets that are eligible for amendment and a lawyer requests it, are amended. There is however, no guarantee. Amendments are granted by city and county prosecutors on an entirely discretionary basis. The amendment may be granted based on the specific facts of the traffic violation, the person’s driving record, and policies in effect at the time of the request.
IS IT CHEAPER TO JUST PAY THE FINE?
It is almost never “cheaper” to pay the fine for a traffic ticket. Certainly the cash outlay for the fine may be relatively small, but the “hidden costs” of increased insurance rates, negative impact on your driving record, and potential consequences to your employment (many employers screen criminal/driving records prior to and during employment) is enormous. IF YOU HAVE AN OPTION, AMENDING A TRAFFIC TICKET TO A NON-MOVING VIOLATION IS ALMOST ALWAYS THE BETTER ALTERNATIVE.
WHAT ARE THE CONSEQUENCES OF PLEADING GUILTY?
In Missouri the “point system” is used to administer driver’s licenses and generally, receiving eight points in eighteen months could result in a license suspension. In Kansas, again generally, three traffic tickets in twelve months can result in the driver’s privileges suspended for a year. In both states, some single traffic violations are serious enough alone, (e.g. driving under the influence of drugs/alcohol) that a driver’s license suspension is automatically triggered.
IF MY LICENSE IS SUSPENDED, CAN I STILL DRIVE?
Under some circumstances, driver’s license privileges can be reinstated. Naturally, once the period of suspension is completed the driver’s license is again valid. In the meantime though, in Missouri, for example, an individual can apply for “hardship” driving privileges under certain conditions. The specifics of case dictate whether this is an option and you should discuss it with your attorney.