Do You Really Need a Defense Lawyer for a Traffic Ticket?
It is easy to think of a traffic ticket as no big deal. Perhaps you parked on the wrong side of the road on the wrong day, or maybe you were going a little faster than you realized down the highway. It happens to almost everyone. However, you may want to be a bit more aware of what you’re doing behind the wheel. Traffic tickets give you “points” on your license, and those points can really add up. You might soon find yourself without a license at all. What’s worse is that you could end up with more severe penalties leveled against you, such as fines or even jail time.
How does the point system work?
Under the Tennessee Department of Safety’s (TDS) Driver Improvement Section, a driver who commits an infraction will get points against their license. These points can accumulate over time, or can be awarded all at once (based on the violations against you).
Some examples of how the points system works are as followed:
- Speeding, 6 through 15 mph in excess of speed zone: 3 points
- Improper passing: 4 points
- Operating a vehicle while using cell phone (under 18): 6 points
- Reckless endangerment by vehicle (misdemeanor): 8 points
- Contributing to an accident resulting in bodily injury: 4 points
It is easy to see how you can end up gathering points over the months if you are not careful about avoiding tickets, and soon enough you could find yourself with twelve points on your record, and then you will find yourself without a license.
What happens if I get 12 points on my license?
Per the TDS:
Drivers that accumulate twelve (12) or more points on their driving record within any 12-month period are sent a notice of proposed suspension and given an opportunity to attend an administrative hearing. If they fail to request a hearing, their driving privileges are suspended for a period of six to 12 months. In most cases, when a driver requests a hearing, they are given the opportunity to attend a defensive driving class in lieu of suspension or a reduction of suspension time.
The rules are a little different from drivers under the age of 18. Minor drivers will be sent a notice once they have six (6) points on their license.
What are other penalties for getting too many points on your license?
In Tennessee, the majority of traffic tickets, such as speeding tickets or making an improper turn, are classified as Class C misdemeanors. Class C misdemeanors are the least severe when it comes to penalties, with jail time not exceeding 30 days, and a fine not exceeding $50 – but that isn’t always the case: “Other moving violations, such as reckless driving, are classified as Class B misdemeanors and carry more severe consequences. Still others, such as reckless endangerment, are classified as Class A misdemeanors and carry the most severe consequences.”
What are the consequences of a misdemeanor conviction?
Commonly considered to be generally petty crimes, misdemeanors still pack a big punch for penalties. Most have a maximum jail time of a year and fines up to $2,500 in Tennessee. Though a person who has been charged with a misdemeanor may not serve any jail time at all, the long term consequences of a misdemeanor conviction can follow that individual for many years of their life – and THAT is why you really want to hire a Franklin criminal defense attorney if you’re facing misdemeanor charges from a traffic violation.
The American Bar Association (ABA) collected a national inventory of the collateral consequences of criminal convictions in the United States. With this data, the ABA created an interactive tool that gives users the ability to sort using different criteria to discover what the ongoing consequences of any kind of conviction might be.
As an example, when we triggered the offense category of misdemeanor crimes, the tool then came up with a total of twelve different consequences that may apply to a Tennessee citizen who is convicted of a misdemeanor crime including:
- Ineligible to serve as volunteer/employee/manager/director of child care agency
- Ineligible to serve as employee/volunteer with mental health residential treatment facility for children/youth (health care)
- Ineligible to bid/provide proposals to the Tennessee Housing Development Authority (convictions of employees/agents/independent contracts/proposed subcontractors)
- Deny/suspend/revoke orthopedic physician assistant license/impose civil penalty (health care)
- Ineligible for direct patient care employment with nursing home facility (heath care)
- Ineligible for veterinary license by reciprocity
In the ABA’s tool, there are 45,000 state and federal consequences for convictions. While we see misdemeanor convictions as minor, they can leave one suffering all the same by negatively impacting an individual’s access to certain job positions, housing opportunities, finances, and even certain family rights. Prospective schools and employers look at your criminal record, and a dark mark on your criminal record is often enough to have them choosing the candidate with no criminal history.
While misdemeanors such as speeding down the road or driving distracted can land you with a ticket and points on your license, they can also have you paying fines and missing work to make court appointments. And even once you have been convicted and sentenced, this mistake may follow you for years to come. The Law Offices of Adrian H. Altshuler & Associates is here to help you. Please feel free to call our offices today at 615-977-9370 or complete our contact form to schedule a consultation with an experienced lawyer. We serve clients in and around the Franklin, Columbia, and Brentwood areas.