Crabtree Law Firm is physically situated next to a license office, so I get my fair share of traffic tickets to "fix" for clients. What exactly is ticket fixing? To understand that one must first learn the how and why of speeding tickets in the first place.
Over the last two years I have become incredibly cynical about the traffic ticketing process, which boils down to the following five steps:
- The officer cites you for speeding and assigns you a court date.
- You bring me your ticket.
- I sign and file a pleading known as an entry of appearance and a recommendation request from the jurisdiction's prosecutor.
- The recommendation request, 99.9 times out of 100, results in a recommendation from the Prosecutor reducing the speeding offense to a non-points violation (some will specify the new offense as "illegal parking") on the condition of you paying a larger fine.
- You pay the larger fine, get awarded no points on your license, your insurance premiums do not increase, and you keep speeding.
Some jurisdictions are less blatant about their true motivation for these speeding tickets-- their prosecutor will require a driving history of the defendant to be sent in along with the request. Presumably if the prosecutor sees a history of speeding maybe the fine will be higher, a driving safety class will be required, or a non-points violation will not be offered. But what if the person has gotten all his tickets fixed and the prosecutor simply sees a bunch of "illegal parking" tickets?
I sometimes talk to people who feel that perhaps it is wrong to do anything but admit guilt and pay the fine and be awarded points. To that I say a few things. One is that if you truly feel that way, you shouldn't even wait to be caught. When you find yourself going over the speed limit, you should just mail in your money each time. The absurdity of such an action should make it clear why you should attempt to plea this down. But there is more to it. The whole system is designed to get you to pay a larger fine to avoid the points, because points lead to higher insurance premiums (do you really want that?) and ultimately-- not too far down the points road-- to revocation of your license.
The fact of the matter is that this is a big revenue source for little municipalities and counties. It's a way to get money from people who are in fact breaking the law, but it's a way to do it without doing the politically unpopular thing: raising taxes. Maybe it contributes to safer roads, too, but from my own insider perspective I think this result is by and large secondary to the ultimate goal of fundraising.
And so this is what ticket fixing is all about. It's a game that one plays so that the real official consequences of speeding can be turned into more money for the local government. Drawbacks abound in such a system, but until we get that "fixed," bring me your tickets.