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Bentonville Traffic Violation Lawyer

What You Need to Know

Most people think there is no need to consult an attorney if you get pulled over and are given a simple traffic ticket. In some cases that is correct; it would cost you more to pay an attorney to handle the ticket for you than what you would end up spending just working it out with the prosecutor or judge yourself.

But in other circumstances you need to think very seriously about what help a skilled Bentonville traffic violation attorney could provide that you just couldn't do for yourself. Considerations shouldn't just be short-term; generally, the attorney will cost more than the ticket. But long-term considerations are usually what people fail to consider; some traffic violations will cause you to lose your driver's license, raise your insurance rates, and even be sentenced to jail.

Below I have given numerous examples of common traffic violations I have represented many clients on. Find your charge below and see what I have to say and make your own decision about the value of an attorney.

If you are concerned about your charge or don't see your particular charge listed here, call today at (479) 250-4863 for a free consultation. An informed decision is your best bet.

All Moving Traffic Violations

Judges are given wide discretion regarding additional punishment, in addition to the punishment required by law, that they may impose on traffic violators. The judge has the discretion to suspend your driver's license for up to 1 year, require completion of a driver's education course, or retake the driver's test.

Additionally, if the violator is a minor the judge can further require that person to write a theme or essay on safe driving or place the minor under probationary conditions designed to educate and prevent future traffic violations by the minor.

Generally first-time offenders of a low-level, like speeding of 5-10 mph over the speed limit or running a stop sign, can handle the case themselves. Simply advising the judge or prosecutor of your clean record will afford you the opportunity to keep the charge off your record. An attorney can negotiate the case for you if there is no defense, and conduct a trial for you if you want to fight the charge.

Speeding

Punishment for speeding charges comes in a wide range, depending on how many miles per hour over the posted speed limit you were traveling at and where you were driving at the time.

  • Less than 15 mph over the limit: up to a $100 fine or up to 10 days in jail for a first offense; up to a $200 fine or up to 20 days in jail for a second offense within 1 year; up to a $500 fine and/or up to 6 months in jail for a third or subsequent offense within 1 year.
  • In excess of 15 mph: Class C misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $500 fine and/or up to 30 days in jail.
  • Speeding in a school zone: for a first offense, a fine of $25-100 and/or up to 10 days in jail; for a second conviction within 1 year a fine of $50-250 and/or 5-25 days in jail and 6 months driver's license suspension; for a third conviction within 1 year a fine of $250-1000 and/or 25 days to 6 months in jail and 1 year driver's license suspension.
  • Speeding or ANY OTHER MOVING VIOLATION in a construction zone: the trial judge is required by law to impose an additional fine equivalent to the fine imposed under the moving violation's regular punishment range, thereby doubling the fine.

What a lawyer can do: Clearly the faster you were traveling, or the more prior convictions you have, the more likely you need to consult with an attorney. An attorney can negotiate with the prosecutor to lower the speed you were alleged to be traveling, or treat a subsequent offense like a first offense. Also, a judge who is inclined to jail a speeder may be less likely to do so with an attorney making an argument for their client. Most importantly, sometimes the charge can be kept off your record all together, which obviously helps keep your insurance from finding out.

Careless or Reckless Driving

Careless driving is often the type of citation a person will get if they are involved in a wreck, such as a rear-ending, that is deemed to be their fault. Reckless driving is more serious and is often charged in cases of driving while intoxicated (DWI).

  • Careless Driving: up to a $100 fine for a first offense; for a second offense within 6 months up to a $200 fine and up to 60 days driver's license revocation; for a third offense within 6 months up to a $200 fine and up to 6 months driver's license revocation.
  • Reckless Driving: a fine of $25-500 and/or 5-90 days in jail; for a second or subsequent offense within 3 years a fine of $500-1000 and/or 30 days to 6 months in jail.
  • Reckless Driving that causes injury: a fine of $100-1000 and/or 30-90 days in jail; if a person has a prior conviction of reckless driving, with or without injury, and a second offense within 3 years occurs and causes injury, then a fine of $500-1000 and/or 60 days to 1 year in jail.

What a lawyer can do: Reckless driving is serious. I do not recommend individuals charged with reckless driving to proceed without an attorney. A jail sentence would almost be a sure thing if no lawyer is involved, but lawyers are often able to work out deals with prosecutors that lower the punishment to something that can prevent a person from being jailed or losing their license.

As mentioned in the top section, driver's license suspension is also a problem to contend with.

No Insurance, With or Without An Accident

Minimum insurance is required in Arkansas. You may not be required to maintain insurance that covers your own vehicle in the event of a wreck, but you must have insurance to cover damage done to someone else's vehicle if you are at fault.

  • No Insurance: a fine of $50-250; for a second offense (without consideration as to how long ago the first offense was) a fine of $250-500; for a third offense (without consideration to how long ago the first two offenses were) a fine of $500-1000 and/or 1 year in jail. Note that the year in jail is not "up to," but 1 year mandatory.
  • Inadequate Insurance with an Accident: if an accident occurs and the operator of a vehicle involved is deemed to have insurance that is inadequate as to state minimums, the person is guilty of a Class A misdemeanor, punishable by up to a $2500 fine and/or up to a year in jail. Additionally the judge can order the vehicle impounded until proof of insurance is provided, and the owner of the vehicle is responsible for the impoundment fees.

What a lawyer can do: No insurance charges tend to anger a lot of judges. Nobody likes having to pay for insurance, but we all do it. So the thought of someone driving a vehicle that is not properly insured when the rest of us are paying can make it a little personal.

Worse yet, if you are involved in a collision that you are responsible for and you don't have the insurance to cover someone else's damage, it's going to be a rough day in court for you.

These are charges I highly recommend consulting an attorney about. If nothing else, a good attorney can do damage control with you, the victim, the prosecutor, and the judge. There are a whole lot of people out for you in a case like this, so get someone on your side.

Driver's Licenses: Suspended, Revoked, or Never Had One

Everyone is required to hold a valid driver's license from some state to operate a motor vehicle in the State of Arkansas. That said, there are a wide variety of charges relating to not having a valid license that land people in court. Here are a few and what you may be facing.

  • Driving without a driver's license: a fine up to $500 and/or up to 90 days in jail.
  • Driving on a cancelled, suspended (non DWI), or revoked license: the law states that a person "shall be punished by imprisonment for not less than 2 days nor more than 6 months," and may additionally be ordered to pay a fine of up to $500.
  • Driving on a suspended license for DWI: driving while intoxicated charges lead to mandatory driver's license suspension unless overturned by Driver Control or a court. If your license is suspended for a DWI and you are caught driving during that suspension (some special rules apply to interlock devices, so speak with your attorney), the punishment includes mandatory jail time of at least 10 days and up to 90 days, and a fine of up to $1000.

What a lawyer can do: Driver's license issues are one that you really should have an attorney for. As shown above, getting caught driving without a license or while under a suspension can cause serious problems.

Attorneys can often work out deals that prevent their clients from going to jail, though some charges are harder to work with than others. If you are charged with one of these offenses, don't try to go it alone.

And The List Goes On...

Title 27 of the Arkansas Code is the Transportation section of Arkansas law. It has over 50 subtitles and hundreds of individual statutes. The bottom line is this: there are many minor traffic violations for which you do not need to spend the money to hire an attorney. Unfortunately there are also many, many nuances of the law that you may not be aware of, possibly leading you to try to handle the case yourself, only to find yourself stuck with a punishment you didn't know was possible or damage to your driving record that could have been avoided.

Most criminal defense attorneys offer a free consultation to evaluate your case. It never hurts to see what a qualified attorney has to say. You are not obligated to hire one just because you spoke to them, but putting a little effort in at the beginning could save you all kinds of headaches further down the line.

Like the old saying goes, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure."

Call me today at (479) 250-4863 to set up a free consultation with a highly skilled and experienced Bentonville traffic violation lawyer. I proudly serve clients in Northwest Arkansas.

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