Price vs. Cost
Before we can answer whether a Traffic Lawyer is worth it, we need to look at the difference between price versus cost. In the simplest terms, the price is a one-time thing, and the cost is a lifetime thing. It is essentially seeing the forest from the trees.
For example, if you receive a speeding ticket and pay the fine outright, the price would be the original fine amount, but the cost would be the increase in your insurance rates.
|Avg. Traffic Ticket||$150|
|Avg. Increase of Insurance Rates (+$20/month x 3 years)||$720|
|Total Cost of Traffic Ticket||$870|
|Avg. Traffic Ticket Attorney Fees||$265|
|Avg. Court Fees||$100|
|Total Cost to Fight Traffic Ticket||$365|
|Total Cost Savings||$505|
How Much Does It Cost to Hire a Lawyer for a Traffic Ticket?
In Washington State, the cost to hire a lawyer for a traffic ticket varies from lawyer to lawyer. However, the going rate, among most attorneys in the greater Puget Sound runs anywhere from $200 to $350. Typically, the traffic lawyers that focus their practice on fighting traffic tickets are usually on the higher end of the range. While lawyers that dabble in traffic ticket defense will be on the lower end of the spectrum, just as anything else in life, you get the of representation you pay for. As the saying goes, you buy nice, or you buy twice.
How Long Will a Ticket Affect my Insurance Rates?
In Washington State, a traffic ticket will stay on your driving record for three years. Some insurance companies calculate this three year period from the date you received the traffic ticket. While others will use on the day the traffic ticket was resolved in court.
How Much Will my Insurance Rates Go Up After a Ticket?
This is tough to say with certainty because each insurance company uses different formulas to determine their rates for their clients. What makes it even more difficult is that insurance companies do not make these formulas public. Therefore it is almost impossible to know what a traffic ticket will do to your rates.
However, Insurance.com studies the quotes and rates of insurance companies closely and has been able to provide averages after looking at hundreds of thousands of policies over the years. Here are the percentage increases they found for common infractions:
|Speeding 30+ MPH over the limit||30%|
|Speeding 16-29 MPH Over Limit||22%|
|Improper or Illegal Pass||20%|
|Speeding 1-15 MPH Over Limit||20%|
|Following Too Closely||20%|
|Failure to Yield||20%|
|Failure to Stop||19%|
|Talking on a Cell Phone||16%|
These are the rate increases for individuals with no other infractions on their driving record. These percentages substantially increase as tickets pile up on your driving record. Individuals with two moving violations paid 34% more for insurance while drivers with three tickets on their record were looking at a 53% increase in their rates.
Average Car Insurance Cost in Washington State
The average car insurance cost in Washington State is $884.24 per year for a single driver. However, in cities like Seattle and Tacoma, rates are significantly more expensive. In Seattle, the average price is $1,453 per year and in Tacoma, the average is $995 per year.
YES! A Traffic Lawyer is Worth the Additional Cost to Fight a Ticket.
The client who was unhappy with the result of the ticket believed that it would have made more sense financially just to go ahead pay the fine for the infraction instead of hiring us to represent them. Their original ticket was for Speeding 14 MPH Over Speeding. In Washington State, this type of infraction carries a fine of $166. So, yes, if the client had just paid the fine on the ticket outright, they would have had less of a financial burden initially. However, this client was thinking strictly in terms of the price they paid and did not consider the long-term cost of having the ticket become part of their driving record.
The client lived in Seattle. So, let’s look at the numbers based on the averages we cited above.
- $1,453 (average cost of insurance in Seattle) x 0.20 (20 % increase on rates) = $290.60 increase per year, on average
- $290.60 (per year increase) x 3 (number of years an infraction stays on your record) = $871.80 total
I charged this client $250 to represent them in court. The client did not have to go to the hearing (what is your time worth?), and their infraction was reduced to a non-moving violation with an administrative fine to pay to the court of $166. Overall, the client spent $416 ($166+$250) to resolve their infraction and keep it from adversely affecting their insurance rates.
So, is a traffic lawyer worth it? I believe most people would agree that it makes sense financially to pay more upfront so that you can save a significant amount of money down the road. By hiring a traffic lawyer for an additional $250, my client avoided a potential “cost” of $871.80 in increased insurance rates over the next three years.
Unfortunately, the majority of drivers today don’t consider the long-term costs of merely paying a ticket. Before deciding whether a traffic lawyer is worth it, I encourage you to take a moment and consider the long-term financial consequences of not fighting your ticket. If you are okay with paying more for insurance down the road, then it makes sense just to pay the fine and move on.
Why Hire an Attorney?
Across the country, countless drivers are stopped every day by local enforcement as a result of traffic violations. Depending on the type of infraction committed, traffic violations can be minor or severe. The more severe violations should be gaged by an attorney. Though a lot of people may believe that hiring a traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma, WA is not necessary for infractions that are not severe, the truth is that their expertise can prove extremely beneficial. Whether a driver is caught speeding, not signaling, running a red light or stop sign, or making an illegal turn, a traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma, WA can help mitigate the fines, penalties, and consequences from a traffic violation.
Not all cases may require an attorney, but enlisting an experienced traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma, WA can save you a great deal of time and money while taking care of the lengthy process on your behalf. Below we will discuss three reasons why it is a good idea to hire a traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma, WA.
- A Traffic Ticket Attorney Understands The Law
It is safe to say that the law is complicated. Every state regulates traffic violations differently. In the state of Washington, for instance, traffic infractions do not use a point system like the majority of other states. Instead, Washington records every moving violation on a driver’s driving record. For instance, if you accumulate six moving violations within a 12-month period, your license will be suspended for 60 days, along with other fines or penalties. However, for more serious traffic violations, such as reckless driving, you could get your license suspended on a first-time offense.
A traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma, WA understands the law, and their knowledge can help you get reduced penalties, negotiate alternate measures, or even get the ticket dropped. They can prevent further escalation by assessing your particular case and figuring out the best options in accordance with the law. If you do not have a deeper understanding of the law, it could be difficult to represent yourself and come out on top. Many people often pay the fines and accept the penalties when, in fact, they could have obtained a much more favorable outcome if they had hired an attorney in the first place.
- A Traffic Ticket Attorney Can Reduce Penalties, Negotiate Alternatives, Or Get The Ticket Dismissed
As previously mentioned, many drivers opt to automatically pay their fines and penalties when that does not have to be the case. An experienced traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma, WA has the experience and know-how on how to get penalties reduced, negotiate alternate options, or even get the ticket dismissed. Getting the penalties reduced will depend on your case, but an attorney will know how to contest the penalty or find a more agreeable solution.
Washington may not use a point system, but they keep accurate driving records. Once you have been ticketed for a violation, it will go on your driving record and count as one of the six infractions you can attain in a 12-month period. If you are prone to traffic violations, having a traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma, WA on speed dial could be handy. It is also important to remember that once you pass the 12-month threshold, your license will get suspended.
Furthermore, one of the biggest consequences of traffic violations is that they can significantly increase your insurance rates. The more traffic infractions on your driving record, the higher your insurance rates. Insurance rates can increase with every infraction, and so having an attorney reduce the penalties or getting the ticket dismissed can help keep the insurance rates at bay.
- A Traffic Ticket Attorney Can Save You Money
One of the main reasons drivers do not hire attorneys when they are facing a traffic infraction is cost. The majority of people wrongly believe that it is less expensive to pay the fine or assume the penalties rather than to hire a professional traffic ticket attorney in Tacoma WA. While it may be true that minor violations do not necessitate an attorney, drivers who are in danger of having multiple violations on their driving record, or who have committed a more serious infraction, could greatly benefit from an attorney’s services.
You could save a lot of time and money enlisting an attorney to help you with your case. Remember, the more traffic infractions you have on your record, the higher the insurance rates will be. An attorney can make sure that another violation will not be added to your driving record and therefore saving you from increasing insurance rates. Also, the fines and penalties can be extremely costly, and getting those reduced will not only save you money, but could also protect your license and prevent any other subsequent consequences.
An Example Case
Recently, I received our first email from an unhappy client since opening Garguile DUI & Traffic Lawyers over two years ago. The client did not believe a traffic lawyer was worth it. They were upset with the result of their case. I represented this individual on a speeding ticket they had received and was able to reduce the ticket to a non-moving violation successfully. This reduction kept the speeding ticket off their driving record and prevented it from affecting the individual’s insurance rates. I was shocked and frustrated because they thought our service was a scam!
The client’s main issue with the outcome of the case was that they still had to pay a fine to the court for the reduction of their speeding ticket on top of the fee that was charged for our services.
I pride myself on making sure that every client is informed of all the potential outcomes for their case when they hire our office. There are two main things that we can do when fighting (contesting) a traffic ticket. First, we can argue the ticket and try to get it dismissed. This is the best outcome because the ticket goes away and it’s like it never happened. With a dismissal, there won’t be any additional fine or administrative fee owed to the court. The second strategy is to negotiate out a deal with the prosecutor to reduce the client’s infraction to a non-moving violation. When this happens the client still has to pay a fine or administrative fee to the court but gets the benefit of not having a moving violation added to their record.
I understand that the client was hoping for a dismissal, but no traffic attorney can guarantee that outcome. The client asked, “Why would I pay $416 when I could have paid $166 (which was the original fine on the ticket) to begin with, and be done with it?” The initial price may have been higher, but the cost savings over the long run is where you truly win.