Okay, so tourist season in South Florida is actually all year long. There are those who are looking to escape the frigid winters in other parts of the country, especially the Northeast, but then there are an equal number of tourists who come to visit for summer vacations. Let’s not forget about that large segment of our population who are part-time residents and can enjoy the best of both worlds – weather in the summer and the warm Florida sunshine in the winter. Regardless of what time of year you decide to head south, it’s critical to remember that all year long, Florida is one of the most prolific states when it comes to handing out traffic tickets.
This can cause a huge problem for someone who is here on vacation. We all plan a budget for our vacations, but none of us plans for the expense of a traffic citation. A Florida traffic ticket can cost you hundreds of dollars at the outset. This could mean this difference between whether or not you and your spouse stay in a resort hotel on one of Miami-Dade’s beautiful beaches or one of those hotels that you can pay for at an hourly rate. Then there are the ancillary costs associated with getting a traffic ticket in South Florida such as an increase in insurance rates. Your life insurance can also increase. Insurance companies, both life and auto, set rates based upon the amount of risk that those they insure pose in making claims. If the risk that the insurance company will have to pay out a claim is too substantial, then it is likely that it will be difficult for that person to get insurance. That is why there are certain insurance companies that deal specifically with high-risk drivers such as those with DUI convictions.
There is no doubt that cops are waiting for you and look specifically for out-of-state tags so, there are few things that you need to keep in mind while driving in South Florida. Keep in mind, however, that there is no set formula for why police officers pull over the cars that they do. First of all, speed traps are legal in Florida. Often, a cop will sit in a treed area, just over a hill, or in some other obscured area that provides them cover. When they issue traffic tickets to out-of-state drivers, they count on the vacationing driver to not want to spend the time, money, and expense to return to Florida for a court date, therefore, the cop doesn’t even have to show up in court in order to get a conviction.
Another important issue is to be wary of what you drive. If you are driving a bright, flashy sports car, you are going to attract a lot more attention that a non-descripted sedan. Not only is it natural for most people to be attracted to colorful, shiny cars, but let’s face it – most cops make about $40,000 a year and get very little appreciation for the job that they do. It is easy to understand that they may be a bit envious of someone who is vacationing in South Florida, driving an expensive car, and not following Florida traffic laws. It’s not right and it is certainly not fair, but it is human nature. Additionally, even though there is no state inspection in Florida, if you drive a car that looks like it is in a state of disrepair or stands out for another negative reason, it is likely to garner the attention of a cop looking to write tickets. Take bumper stickers as an example. For the most part, the whole purpose of bumper stickers is to incite an emotional response. If you have political statements regarding party affiliation, the NRA, or other such subjects that tend to lend themselves to heated debate, you may find the cop behind you to be pro- or anti-whatever your bumper stick is addressing. The odds are that if you are in South Florida from elsewhere, you are there to enjoy yourself, not promote a political agenda.
One of the most common types of tickets that vacationers get is speeding tickets. This is often due to the fact that they are unfamiliar with the roads or they are trying to keep up with traffic. This is one of the things that I hear frequently from my clients, but unfortunately, it is not a very effective defense. Cops don’t care.
There are also SunPass tickets that some out-of-state drivers may not be aware of. These are toll roads that use electronic transponders to pay the tolls. Tourists that are not familiar with these roads or the process can end up with multiple tickets that they are not even aware of until long after they return home. The process can take longer than the 30 days in which you have to pay the ticket. Since the State of Florida engages in reciprocity with most states, any tickets you get in Florida, even with an out-of-state license, can end up in a license suspension or points that get transferred to you home state. If you happen to rent a car while visiting, most rental car companies will provide a transponder for a small fee. I definitely advise that you get one to avoid getting a SunPass ticket and the possibility of a driver’s license suspension. You also need to keep in mind that due to the reciprocity process, your home state is likely to be made aware of not just the ticket, but the number of points that the ticket warrants, so the next ticket you get in your home state is likely to be more costly than you might think.
It’s no surprise to anyone that laws vary from state to state and even regionally. One particularly hot topic in Florida is the use of traffic cameras and South Florida in particular is teeming with them. These traffic cameras monitor speeding, turns at intersections, and passing stopped school buses. Since they are not used everywhere, many tourists are not even aware of their presence until it’s too late. As with the SunPass tickets, by the time you receive this type of ticket due to the way they are processed, you could be driving on a suspended license and not even know it.
Writing tickets is often discretionary for police officers. If they are pissed off because you are driving a car that costs twice their annual salary or they are offended by the point-of-view that your bumper sticker conveys, they can choose to target you. Keep in mind that regardless of the offense for which he stopped you, he can usually find more than one reason to write you traffic tickets. I always tell clients not to just pay their traffic tickets, and this is especially true if you receive multiple traffic citations.
Many tourists may feel like they have spent enough money on their Florida vacation; let’s face it – Miami-Dade is an expensive place to visit. It is understandable that most visitors may see hiring a traffic ticket attorney as an additional expense that they didn’t count on. When you factor in in the cost of having to come back to Florida to defend yourself or the costs you will ultimately incur by just paying the ticket, hiring a traffic ticket attorney is usually more than equitable. We at the Traffic Ticket Team have a very high success rate at getting traffic tickets either dismissed or reduced so that the driver doesn’t have to attend traffic school or get any points assessed against his license. You came to Miami-Dade to enjoy yourself and make fond memories. Don’t let a traffic ticket ruin your vacation; call us at 954-967-9888 for your free consultation.