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How to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Alabama
Section § 12–12–53 of the Code of Alabama directs law enforcement officers to issue traffic tickets to road users who commit traffic offenses. A traffic ticket, also known as a citation, is an official notice of an Alabama traffic violation. Tickets typically contain:
- The violator’s personal information.
- Details of the offense and applicable statutes.
- The license number of the vehicle involved.
- The date of the violation.
- All associated fines and penalties
If the crime is a misdemeanor, the offender will be taken into custody and booked for the offense. Also, a violator may receive a traffic ticket in the form of a court summons. Depending on the type of traffic ticket received, the offender will have two options: pay the ticket or fight it in an Alabama court.
Is it Worth it To Fight a Traffic Ticket in Alabama?
Every recipient of a ticket in Alabama may choose to fight it. However, there is no one way to determine whether or not it is worth it. As such, anyone who receives a traffic ticket must consider these factors in deciding whether to fight it:
- The Merit of The Case: If the recipient believes that the allegation against them is unjust, they may resolve to fight the ticket. Likewise, if the violation resulted from an emergency, i.e., involving life or limb, the violator may successfully plead the case in court.
- Knowledge of Traffic law: Often, a guilty traffic violator, armed with the knowledge of state traffic laws and municipal ordinances, can successfully challenge the ticket in court for some relief.
- Attorney Fees: The legal fees accrued in a traffic case can be exorbitant. In some cases, paying the ticket may be cheaper than hiring an attorney.
- Insurance Premiums: While paying a ticket might be the cheaper option, uncontested traffic tickets are an admission of wrongdoing. Consequently, the insurance premiums of the violator may increase more than bearable.
Other factors to consider include financial loss following court appearance and the possibility of committing another infraction while in transit. Once the individual has determined that fighting the ticket is worth it in the long run, they must obtain information on fighting a traffic ticket in Alabama.
Ways to Fight a Traffic Ticket in Alabama
According to Alabama court rules, the recipient of a traffic ticket must respond within seven (7) days or on the date specified on the ticket. Failure to comply with this directive attracts administrative sanctions like revocation of driver’s license and a bench warrant being issued for the individual’s arrest.
- Suit up: If it has been established that hiring an attorney is too expensive, and the offender is confident that they can do a good job presenting the case to the judge, they may choose to go pro se, i.e., opt for self-representation. Most courts provide guidelines and legal resources for defendants who choose to toe this line, but the individual must prepare for trial by rehearsing with the available resources.
- Hire a professional: An individual who cannot go pro se should consider hiring an experienced attorney. Although this is the more pricey option, it is often worth it in the long run.
- Agency: Several agents now pitch individuals some legal insurance package against traffic tickets. For a small annual fee, the service provider can offer legal assistance should the client need it. However, the reliability of many of these services cannot be guaranteed. Indeed, in many cases, the agency may outsource the case to an attorney who does not have enough experience handling traffic cases. Besides, the service provider may have terms and conditions that preclude clients from using its services under certain circumstances.
Ultimately, deciding how to fight a ticket is the individual’s choice. Each of the above ways has pros and cons that the individual must consider carefully before choosing. Once the individual has decided that going to trial trumps paying the ticket, they must take the necessary actions to ensure a favorable outcome.
How to Fight a Traffic Ticket Without Going to Trial
To fight a ticket without going to trial in Alabama, the defense counsel or the pro se defendant may arrive at a plea bargain with the prosecutor in the brief window between arraignment and trial. As traffic hearings are seldom protracted, this window is the only opportunity most violators have to resolve a ticket without trial. If done well, the prosecutor will reduce the infraction and consequent penalties. Generally, plea-bargains work because of priority and opportunity cost. The sheer volume of traffic cases filed annually means that it is impractical for the court to channel staff and funds away from the prosecution of more severe violations.
How Do You Get a Traffic Ticket Reduced in Alabama?
To get a traffic ticket reduced in Alabama, the requestor must petition the court for a mitigation hearing. Eligible persons must inquire at the office of the clerk of courts on how to make the request. The Alabama Department of Law Enforcement Agency (DLEA) uses a point system to determine the value of minor traffic violations. The amount on the ticket is often reflective of this point system. A skilled attorney can convince the prosecutor to change the offense’s classification to reduce the point value. For example, a speeding violation worth five (5) points may change to a moving violation worth two (2) points. Besides, the violator may request a payment plan to pay fines over a period if they prove their financial hardship.
Can You Get a Speeding Ticket Dismissed in Alabama?
While it is typically difficult to dismiss a speeding ticket outright, it is possible. The individual is usually required to enter a not guilty plea and request a hearing. The hearing is generally within 24 hours or within seven (7) days, and the offender will have the opportunity to explain why the speeding ticket is undeserved. Meanwhile, the defendant must always watch out for opportunities to toss the case in court. A good opportunity is if the officer fails to appear in court. Another way is to subject the issuance of the speeding ticket to technical arguments that prove the innocence of the accused beyond reasonable doubt. Still, the judge is more predisposed to believe the statement of a sworn officer of the law over that of the violator. Thus, the individual must provide admissible evidence and credible witnesses to get a dismissal.
What Happens if You Plead Guilty to a Traffic Ticket in Alabama?
When an individual pleads guilty to a ticket, they face the full consequences of the violation. If the offense is a misdemeanor, the individual may be liable for criminal and civil litigations after adjudicating the traffic case. Other consequences include license revocation and having a publicly available criminal record.
Records that are considered public may be accessible from some third-party websites. These websites often make searching more straightforward, as they are not limited by geographic location, and search engines on these sites may help when starting a search for specific or multiple records. To begin using such a search engine on a third-party or government website, interested parties usually must provide:
- The name of the person involved in the record, unless said person is a juvenile
- The location or assumed location of the record or person involved; This includes information such as the city, county, or state that the person resides in or was accused in
Third-party sites are independent of government sources and are not sponsored by these government agencies. Because of this, record availability on third-party sites may vary.
How to Find a Traffic Ticket Attorney in Alabama
Despite being the more expensive option, hiring an experienced traffic attorney is better than walking into court alone. The best way to find a traffic ticket attorney in Alabama is through a referral from a client of the lawyer, or following the recommendation of a trusted source.