Insurance companies have many tools to determine whether they have a basis for placing a client in an elevated risk pool. They can search online databases, run a client’s local driving record or simply ask a client to update them on whether they received any moving violations in the last year. Regardless, it should be expected that if you receive a Vermont traffic ticket that carries points, it is likely that your insurance company will find out about it.
How to avoid the Moving Violation
The key to any traffic ticket defense is to articulate a basis for a moving violation to be avoided. Driving history, conduct of the individual on the roadside and the age of the driver are all key factors. When negotiating with an officer it is important to point these factors out at the onset of negotiations. This should put the officer at ease knowing that they are dealing with someone who is reasonable and understands the importance of safe driving.
After the illustration of mitigating factors, it is equally important to determine whether there are any legal defenses to the charge. Radar calibration, other motorists on the road, and the proper issuance of the ticket are all important factors to consider. In some instances, it is advisable to point these issues out in negotiations, while in other cases it is best to keep these defenses close to the vest in the event the case has to go to trial.
Ultimately, these defenses can be used as leverage with the officer in order to negotiate a better deal or, if no deal can be reached, to present the defense to the judge to allow them to determine whether the clear and convincing standard of proof has been met.
No driver wants to have a list of Vermont moving violations following them around. The ultimate goal in presenting a traffic ticket defense is to leave all avenues open in the hope that a result can be reached that will not result in the insurance company being able to assess additional fees.
No attorney has a magic wand to make cases disappear. What they do have is a set of skills and knowledge that help them leverage each case in a fashion that gives their client the best possible chance to avoid significant consequences for their traffic ticket. Does the knowledge and acumen of a Vermont traffic ticket lawyer always lead to a dismissal? I would be a straight out liar to say that it would. However, with the specialized knowledge of the process, the officer and the presiding judge, it is reasonable to conclude that a motorists’ chances of reaching a favorable resolution (dismissal or amendment to a lessor charge) in their Vermont traffic ticket increases the better one knows the rules of the system and the players involved.
So what knowledge is needed to best prepare for a traffic hearing in a Vermont Traffic Court? That heavily depends on the officer and the judge who will serve as the other parties in the matter. Certain officers and judge’s rely on specific documentation a client can provide to assist them in determining what type of offer they are willing to give in a traffic ticket case. A motorist’s driving record from the their home state is a good first step in achieving the necessary documentation. Some States, such as New York, (https://dmv.ny.gov/dmv-records/get-my-own-driving-record-abstract) allow driver’s to quickly secure their DMV record online. Other States ,such as New Jersey, require a more extensive process that can take up to 14 days to complete.
Beyond a DMV driving abstract there are other discoverable materials that the officer may be required to produce if requested by the defense prior to the hearing taking place. Requesting evidence such as the cruiser dash cam, body-camera, radar calibration certificates and other pieces of evidence relevant to the charge to only provide the defense with additional evidence to present their case, but also may allow for further leverage in plea negotiations if the requests are not fulfilled in a timely manner.
There is no way to guarantee a result in a Vermont traffic ticket case. However, by preparing the case properly and presenting the best facts possible both to the officer and, if need be, the judge, a motorist is putting their best case forward and increasing the likelihood of a favorable result in their Vermont traffic ticket case.
As a lawyer practicing extensively in traffic court, I have had the opportunity to speak to hundreds of law enforcement officers regarding the circumstances of their stop of an individual for a traffic violation. Most of the time these interactions are pleasant and professional. However, from time to time, officers will relay to me important information as to the conduct of the motorist they issued a traffic ticket to, which goes directly toward their disposition in settling the case fairly. Below are a few of the most important things not to do as relayed directly from the officer.
- They begged me to not write them a ticket: Being pulled over by an officer can be a stressful situation. The officer, who has written hundreds if not thousands of these tickets, knows that this interaction may be less then cordial. However, when they are forced to defend themselves because a motorist is pleading with them not to write them a ticket, it puts them in a very difficult situation. Thus, in response to the begging, a law enforcement officer may just put on their professional face and go through the motions of writing the ticket to avoid excessive contact with the motorist. Tip: Take your medicine on the roadside, be polite, accept the ticket and then see what can be done to reduce or dismiss the ticket at a later time.
- Asking to see the radar: An officer is not obligated to show a motorist their radar gun at the roadside during a Vermont speeding ticket stop. This would prolong the stop and put the officer and motorist at further risk. Especially on the highway, but also on winding Vermont roads, officers do not want to be exposed to oncoming traffic for any longer then they have to. Requesting to look at the radar may only put the officer on the defensive, which may hurt your chances of catching a break later on. Tip: If you feel the radar was inaccurate, save the argument for the courtroom, not the roadside.
- Aggressively denying that you were speeding: If an officer is pulling you over, its because they believe that they have reason to do so. If they are pulling you over for speeding, it is nearly a certainty that the officer has a reasonable belief that you were in fact speeding. 99% of Vermont law enforcement officers are good people, performing a tough job to the best of their ability. Thus, if a motorist sits on the roadside and vehemently denies that they were speeding, this will not help their chances, as an officer may take it as a statement against their professionalism without just cause. Instead, to protect your rights, it is better to not answer at all or to simply state that you were not sure how fast you were traveling. Tip: By the time the officer goes back to his cruiser after gathering your identification documents, it is likely that they have already made up their mind as to whether they will be writing you a ticket. Do not expect that you will get a break by making your case on the roadside.
The issuance of a Vermont traffic ticket is only the start of the legal process if a motorist chooses to contest the charge. Thus, it is important to not paint yourself in a corner by performing acts that are contrary to resolving your case. The above three examples are just a few of the acts motorists have committed that have effected their chance are receiving a favorable disposition to their case.
Most people are unaware of the law related to illegal expansion following a motor vehicle stop. The police routinely perform motor vehicle stops on motorists in Vermont, which can often result in a Vermont speeding ticket, some other Vermont traffic ticket, or a criminal citation related to DUI. Most often, it is the quality of the driving itself that alerts the police to a particular vehicle. But what happens if the police use a minor traffic violation, and the resulting motor vehicle stop, as a mechanism to investigate the driver or passengers pertaining to issues that are unrelated to a Vermont speeding ticket or Vermont traffic ticket?
The vast majority of motor vehicle stops in Vermont are related to speeding and minor traffic infractions. But once a motor vehicle stop has occurred, the police are only permitted to investigate and inquire about issues directly related to the reason for the stop. They are not allowed to detain you any longer than it takes for them to issue you the ticket.
Does this mean that, following a stop based upon a speeding infraction, an officer would be forced to ignore and walk away from the obvious open alcohol container, plainly visible illegal substances, or a driver who appeared visibly intoxicated? No! The driver or occupants would clearly be in more trouble. However, if the police make no such observations, they are not allowed to use this opportunity to further inquire about other potential criminal or wrongful conduct. This is an illegal expansion.
At Chadwick Law, we not only specialize in defending Vermont speeding tickets and Vermont traffic tickets, we specialize in challenging illegal expansions. As a motorist in Vermont, be aware of your rights. If you are pulled over related to a Vermont speeding ticket or Vermont traffic ticket, politely decline to engage in conversation of issues that are not related to the stop itself and decline any requested searches. The common result of challenging a case due to an officer’s illegal expansion of a stop is that the criminal charge is dismissed. Protect yourself with awareness.
One of the most frequently asked questions as a result of a Vermont traffic ticket are whether the points issued as a result of of the violation transfer to the operator’s home state. In short, there is no exact answer to this question. Each State runs their own point system when it comes to civil traffic infractions. As a result, each state has their own internal policies with regards to whether or not points are shared from one state to another.
It is important to note however, that regardless of whether points transfer, the most important question to those living outside the State of Vermont is whether the violation itself transfers. The violation (defined by a code) is what carries with it the potential for increased insurance rates, which as posted previously can cause motorists thousands of dollars in hiked premiums over the coming years.
What insurance companies are looking for when they check a motorist’s driving record is whether the violations themselves carry with them an indication that they fall under a category of “moving infractions”. This means that the violation charged was the direct result of the manner in which an operator drove their motor vehicle. Speeding violations are the first that come to mind. However, there are other violations such as running a red-light, failure to yield and driving too fast for conditions which carry the same connotation as speed does in the eyes of insurance companies.
As a result, the overall motivation for any operator looking to contest their Vermont traffic ticket is to avoid as much of the “moving violation” indication on their driving record as possible. This will minimize the damage of a driving record check and will ensure that an out-of-state motorist will not be hit as severely or at all, when their insurance company checks up on the driving status of an individual driver.
In traveling to Vermont traffic courts across the State of Vermont, I have gotten to meet a lot of very good hearted, professional police officers. I have also gotten to meet a few, how shall we say it…sour ones. In most of these meetings I, as a Vermont traffic ticket attorney, have gotten to sit down with the officer and discuss whether we can come to a negotiated settlement prior to litigating the traffic ticket before a Vermont assistant judge. I have found that a police officer is much more inclined to offer a favorable deal if a motorist did not perform one of the following maneuvers when the officer made first contact with them.
1) Show the officer a business card of law enforcement you know: This “networking” to get out of a ticket has never worked as far as I know. In fact, the officers that I talk to have told me that it is an insult to their professionalism when someone thinks that just because their cousin is a State Trooper in another state, that this gives them a free pass to speed or break other traffic laws in Vermont.
2) Argue the merits of the stop on the roadside: If an officer has pulled you over, they have done so because they believe they have the evidence necessary to charge you with a traffic violation. Putting your case on trial to the officer right after he has pulled you over will not win you points with the officer and could lead to him giving you no break on the fine and points, when they write up the ticket.
3) Say you have an emergency when you really don’t: Officers are understanding of emergencies. They will even at times escort you to the hospital. However, if you say that you need to get somewhere fast because its an emergency and the cop calls you out on it by offering an escort to the alleged place of emergency and finds out you were lying, this could be a big problem when you receive your traffic infraction.
Vermont police officers will customarily write notes on their copy of the ticket they issued you if a motorist gives them reason to remember you at a traffic ticket hearing. These notes will jog the officer’s memory as to the encounter they had which will greatly influence their decision on whether or not they are willing to cut you a deal. Don’t give the officer reason to remember you, the less they remember about the stop, the better chance you have at prevailing at or before trial.
According to a recent Forbes article a motorist can expect as much as a 22 percent rise in their insurance premium after just one traffic violation. However, determining just how much of an increase you should expect to pay varies widely on the Vermont traffic infraction you are being prosecuted for.
Reckless driving and DUI hold the biggest risk of insurance hikes with an estimated 22 and 19 percent increase respectively. However, even for less severe offenses, such as traveling 1-14 miles-per-hour over the posted speed limit, motorists can suffer an 11 percent insurance hike or more.
Vermont motor vehicle laws state that it takes two years for a driving violation to be cleaned off a motorists’ record. This means, that any further driving violations can result in further increases to one’s insurance as well as the risk of license suspension if the issued points reach 10 or more.
The only way to combat insurance increases as a result of a traffic violation or DUI charge in Vermont is to fight back and thus the expense you must pay upfront to defend yourself, may be a worthwhile investment for both the short and long term.
Need to reduce or eliminate the damage a Vermont traffic ticket or DUI will have on your financial well being? Email or call Vermont traffic ticket attorney Evan Chadwick, for a free initial case analysis.
A logical question for any one who has recently been issued a Vermont Traffic Ticket is whether they should retain a Vermont traffic ticket attorney to represent them in their case. Here are a few useful pieces of information in making that determination:
1) The lawyer’s fee will likely be higher than the fine-The fine only tells one part of a much larger story and that is the effect that the point infraction will have on your insurance rates and license. Most states will not only look at the points issued as a result of the traffic ticket, but also the offense itself. Speeding, reckless driving, unsafe passing and many other Vermont moving violations can have a drastic effect on your insurance premium if convicted of the charges.
2) You do not need to personality appear if you are represented by a Vermont Traffic Ticket Attorney: Have a busy work schedule and don’t want to make the trip to the county court house where your hearing will be held? No problem, your attorney can appear on your behalf, argue the case and send you the final result, without you having to expend the time and expense in personally appearing;
3) Even when there appears to be no defense there just might be one- Ok, you were speeding, you know it and the cop knows it. However, even in cases that appear to be clear cut, there may just be a procedural defense to the charge. Did the officer conduct the proper maintenance on his radar prior to starting his shift? Were there other vehicles in close proximity that may put into question what vehicle the officer was actually pointing their radar at? Did the officer in fact hold jurisdiction over the stretch of road in which you were pulled over? These potential issues and many more have been successfully litigated in court in the past and have resulted in dismissals of cases.
Have questions? Call Vermont Traffic Ticket Attorney Evan Chadwick for a free consultation.