Since traffic ticket law is our area of focus, we offer free consultations every day for drivers who have gotten traffic tickets. Of course, when speaking with prospective clients, we always ask them about their driving history. Not surprisingly, the answer that we get is usually a positive one such as, “Not bad. I have only had a ticket or two.” This immediately sets off the radar of any traffic ticket attorney because admitting to one or two traffic tickets can often indicate that there are going to be some black marks found on the client’s driving record. Sometimes these black marks can be points against the driver’s license, but even if he or she has dodged the points, it doesn’t mean that their driving record is in good order. Any traffic ticket whether it is for speeding, reckless driving, or what have you, stays on your driving record permanently. That’s right, they are like a bad call in baseball – they never go away. Points may drop off eventually after having to pay increased insurance rates for a few years, but thanks to the Department of Motor Vehicle’s computer system, a record of all of your driving faux pas are now a part of DMV history, unless their system gets hacked or a struck down by a virus. I am not advocating, and even strongly discourage, making an attempt at either of these ideas.
This is extraordinarily unfair. It seems like you should surely get some kind of break, a modicum of leniency, for just paying your traffic ticket outright. After all, the state doesn’t have to pay to defend its position, and the cop who wrote you the traffic ticket can be back out there looking for other unsuspecting drivers. You are working with the system, right? Wrong. If you just paid your traffic citation, you admitted being guilty of that with which you have been charged, and you will bear the brunt of the legal penalties for doing so. It doesn’t matter whether you paid it because you felt you were guilty of the offense, if you thought you were just cooperating with the system, or if you managed to get your traffic ticket dismissed; ten years from now, that will still show up on your record.
It just doesn’t seem right that the system can continue to use these infractions against you if you get another traffic ticket. Not only that, but if you get the same type of ticket more than once, you can be classified as a habitual traffic offender (HTO), and the courts can get quite disgruntled with a HTO. If you get one or more traffic tickets for varying offenses, you then look like you don’t have any respect for traffic laws and guess what? Yep, your permanent record is used against you anyway. In a society that lauds second chances, it doesn’t make much sense, does it? To add insult to injury, the wonderful world wide web makes it a breeze to find out just about anything about nearly anyone. As long as you are willing to pay a bit for the information, virtually every private detail about you is available, and some sites provide personal information for free. If the Average Joe can find information about you, you can just imagine the information available to law enforcement and the courts when it comes to viewing your driving record.
This doesn’t even scratch the surface of the information about you that these agencies can come up with while compiling statistics, tracking offenders, et cetera. These so-called offenders don’t even have to be criminals. Even non-moving violations are stored in databases and can be accessed world-wide, hence the turn “world wide web.” Unfortunately, this is often done supposedly for the greater good and can lead to many abuses of power by those who chose to manipulate the system. Another reason for the use of the word “web” in world wide web is because of the interconnectedness of computer systems. This is evidenced by both the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles and the DMV databases from throughout the country. We have heard the real estate mantra of, “Location, location, location!” It means that a property can increase or decrease in value depending upon where is it is located. Well, that may be true in real estate, but it falls apart when it comes to gleaning information through the internet. It’s the same information whether that be good or bad.
For this reason, don’t think you are off the hook if you happen to get a traffic ticket in a different state. The reciprocity provided by the Driver License Compact agreement that exists between most states is likely to ensure that any traffic misdeeds committed will follow you home by way of the various state databases. You will then be subjected to whatever the Florida penalty is, excluding the fine which is set by the state in which you commit the violation. Remember those insurance rate hikes I mentioned earlier? You can count on that if your traffic ticket causes points to be assessed against your license. You should, therefore, keep in mind that insurance companies also have access to all of the data about you that is available online. Consequently, it does no good to try to outsmart them into getting a better rate by selecting what information about your driving history you choose to share with them and holding back on other information. One quick search by the insurance company and any deception on your part will be revealed.
One fact about insurance companies that many people don’t realize is that if they find out about accidents that are not at-fault accidents that you are in is often used to set you annual premium. This seems like an awfully shady practice especially since it is not permissible for them to raise your rates for tickets that do not effect the number of points on your license. When it comes to traffic tickets and auto insurance, it’s a lose-lose situation.
Both the legal system and the insurance industry are set up to make it difficult to navigate them alone. The rules and laws that apply can often be difficult to interpret. If you have had the unfortunate circumstance of getting a traffic citation, give us a call at 954-967-9888 for your free consultation. Your best bet is to try to keep this kind of information off of your driving record completely, and we can help.