I recently ran across an online book about ‘Do-It-Yourself Traffic Ticket Defense’ that claimed it was cheaper to buy their book, study up and defend your own speeding ticket than to hire a lawyer to fight the traffic ticket for you. Let’s take a look at that claim and see if you still think that’s true at the end…
DEFENSE WITH A LAWYER: The Coquat Law Firm charges a flat legal fee of $150.00 to defend a traffic citation. You will not pay a single dime more than that in legal fees no matter how much work the attorney has to do for you. That flat fee includes getting to talk to a real lawyer from the very start; a real lawyer that already knows the traffic ticket courts and traffic ticket system. Your information can be provided entirely over the phone or online and payment can be made the same way with Visa™ or MasterCard™. You never have to mail us your ticket, travel to our office or waste one second at the courthouse.
Some traffic ticket attorneys send only a written request for a plea bargain to the various courts and then take the first offer made by the prosecutor. An attorney from The Coquat Law Firm actually travels down to the San Antonio Municipal Court or Bexar County JP Court on your behalf and actually negotiates with a prosecutor, a judge or both to get your ticket fine reduced as low as possible and the time spent on deferred adjudication reduced to as little as possible. Deferred adjudication is also sometimes called deferred disposition or probation.
You then pay only the remaining court assessed fine and successfully complete your probation period without another violation, and the traffic offense is guaranteed to be dismissed. The speeding citation is not added to your certified driving record and your insurance company does not find out about the citation. You spend no time other than the inital phone call dealing with your traffic ticket! And time is money!
DEFENSE BY YOURSELF: A pay scale web site says the average hourly wage in San Antonio for a para-professional is between $15 and $20 per hour. The e-book on traffic ticket defense costs about $25.00 and the hard copy version costs about $35.00. The book is about 100 pages long. Now, Wikipedia says the average number of words on a page is 250 words and the average person reads 100 to 200 words per minute when reading to learn. So, if you read one page of the book every 90 seconds, then it would take you about 150 minutes or 2-1/2 hours to read the entire book.
Now, calculate about one hour of driving time round trip to the courthouse from most places in San Antonio. Don’t forget your $3.00 to park at the San Antonio Municipal Court and an opportunity to get frisked going through the metal detector. If you’re new to the system, you then have to spend what I calculate to be about the next three to four hours being treated like a common criminal.
You will have to have someone find and print out the paperwork on your ticket. Then figure out where to go next, where to sit and when to stand. You will likely get a lecture from the prosecutor about your driving and then probably lectured by the judge. My experience as an attorney has been that people without an attorney also don’t get quite as good of a fine cutback or decrease in probation time from prosecutors as those folks who are represented by a lawyer.
Finally, you get to stand in what is usually a very long and slow moving line of strangers before getting up to a payment window to deal with a generally ill tempered and tired cashier sitting behind three inches of glass and talking to you on a crackly window speaker. After wasting half a day of pay or vacation time, you finally get your speeding ticket paid for and get to go home. You’re tired, frustrated and still had to pay big bucks for your court fine.
So, let’s add it up using averages from above, assuming you don’t try to set up an actual trial and represent yourself in court against a licensed attorney and a uniformed police officer. If instead you do the smart thing and try to negotiate like a good lawyer will do for you, here are the numbers:
Book = $30.00
Parking = $3.00
Read Time 2.5hr. x $17.50 = $43.75
Drive Time 1.0hr. x $17.50 = $17.50
Court Time 3.5hr. x $17.50 = $61.25
TOTAL = $155.50
DON’T DEFEND YOURSELF: The Coquat Law Firm charges a flat legal fee of only $150.00 per citation to have an experienced lawyer defend your traffic ticket(s) for you. Based on the calculation above, you lose about $5.00 more than paying one of our firm’s lawyers and about 7 hours of your valuable time. And, of course, that assumes everything goes well and you don’t forget something, show up on the wrong date, or have the judge tell you to come back another day because the case has been reset or the system is down. Professionals, business owners, teachers and anyone else with a high hourly wage lose substantially more money representing themselves. Besides, who wants to spend hard earned vacation time down at the courthouse! Don’t forget, you will pay a fixed amount in court costs and some fines with or without a lawyer. Why lose money and spend more time to get the same result?