Can you represent me?
My practice generally surrounds the Memphis, Tennessee metro area, and includes Arkansas, Mississippi, and Tennessee, and if you are within an hour from Memphis, I can probably represent you on the ticket. If your ticket is more than an hour from Memphis, I will usually recommend you find someone local to handle the ticket, as making the court experiences will become too expensive for it to be feasible. I also can’t handle tickets in Fayette County, Tennessee (Somerville, Oakland, and Piperton). If you have a ticket there I can make a referral to someone who can handle it.
How much will it cost?
My fee will depend on the distance from Memphis, the procedures of the court (likelihood of multiple court dates and long court days), and the type of ticket (CDL, accident with injuries, the possibility of jail time and/or trial, and many other factors). The court costs or fines and the driving school costs, if applicable, depend on the court, and vary quite a bit. It is not typically possible for me to give you an exact amount, as this is calculated by the clerk after an action is taken on your ticket, but I can usually give an estimate. 95% of costs are less than $250 for simple traffic tickets, though multiple counts can exceed this.
Do I have to come to court on a traffic ticket if I hire an attorney?
Usually not. In most cases, if you are charged with a small/petty offense (and not a misdemeanor), an attorney can appear for you. There are many exceptions to this general rule, though, and depending on the court, state, and charge, failure to appear in court could lead to a warrant – and your arrest. Please make sure you discuss this issue with your attorney in detail before deciding not to appear.
Will my ticket be dismissed?
I will do everything I can to obtain a dismissal, but the answer is still “maybe.” It depends on a wide variety of factors, and in many cases, yes, a ticket can be dismissed, so it won’t go on your record, but payment of court costs is often necessary and sometimes completion of driving school, in addition to court costs.
CDL tickets (commercial drivers) are much more difficult to have dismissed (which is one of the reasons they cost more), as court costs and driving school are not options due to federal regulations. For CDL tickets, some courts will allow a charge to be amended, however, and some will outright dismiss them, depending on the circumstances. Other courts, such as Memphis City Court, will almost invariably require the case to be set for trial, and for you to come to court ready to go forward.
Factors which can make it less likely your ticket will be dismissed are some of the following:
- Prior traffic offenses (getting me a copy of your motor vehicle record (MVR) is advisable in all but simple cases).
- The ticket is for an accident with injuries (procuring the accident report is a good idea).
- Unpaid court costs – in other words, if the court dismisses the case for you with costs – they will be unconvinced you will pay.
- Being unwilling to pay court costs or do driving school and court costs.
- In general, being a commercial driver, whether you were driving a CMV or not.
Of course, you always have the right to a bench trial with a traffic ticket, and you can appeal an adverse judgment – within a set time and limited time-period.
What does your attorney need to know to prepare for court and handle your ticket? [Checklist]
- Do you have a commercial driver’s license (CDL) and were you driving a commercial vehicle at the time?
- What law enforcement agency issued the ticket. What state? What court is the ticket assigned to?
- A copy of the ticket – you can email it or photograph it with a high-resolution smartphone camera. Your email address is also needed, along with your full name, if it isn’t legible on the ticket.
- Was there an accident? If so you should send the accident/police report.
- Who was at fault? Did they get a ticket as well? Do you dispute the narrative written by the officer on the ticket or the accident report?
- If no accident, what happened – though often your attorney doesn’t need an extremely detailed explanation (for example, speeding if not that far over the limit), but every case is different.
- Do you have a clean record (in the past three years)? What does your driving record look like?
- Are you ok with court costs and driving school?
- Can you come to court if necessary?