Contesting a traffic violation can be worth the effort

It may be tempting to simply pay off a traffic ticket to avoid the hassle of contesting the charges. Although the process for contesting a traffic violation is not as procedurally strict as other court proceedings, the process may still intimidate some drivers.

Is it really worth the time and effort to overcome such fears and contest a traffic violation? The answer depends on the type of violation -- civil infraction, misdemeanor or felony -- as well as the individual driver’s circumstances. Under Michigan law, certain traffic violations are assigned a point value, and a conviction may post those points to an individual’s driver record for a period of two years. In addition, fines and costs may accompany the offenses. For criminal violations, such as drunk driving or manslaughter, a conviction might even result in jail time.

Admittedly, a speeding ticket may not be as serious as other criminal traffic violations. Yet preparing a defense for civil infractions may also be worth the effort. To contest a civil infraction in Michigan, the website of the Michigan Department of Motor Vehicles explains that several steps can be involved. Although the first stage may be an informal hearing before a magistrate, there’s a chance that the police officer that wrote the ticket may miss the hearing.

Yet even if that initial hearing is unsuccessful, a driver can request a formal hearing before a judge. Since due process of law will be followed in that forum, it is important to have a good strategy. An attorney that focuses on traffic law can assist in that defense.

Source: Michigan Radio, " Go to court in your pajamas with this new technology," Aug. 6, 2014