In Florida, a traffic ticket for failing to come to a stop for a school is a civil traffic infraction and not a criminal charge. The traffic law states that any driver "shall, upon approaching any school bus which displays a stop signal, bring such vehicle to a full stop while the bus is stopped, and the vehicle shall not pass the school bus until the signal has been withdrawn." Failing to stop for a school bus is always a moving violation. Then it gets more confusing.
Driving on a suspended license can be a criminal or civil case in Florida. Too many charges of driving while suspended can result in a 5-year revocation of a driver's license as a habitual offender.
In DUI defense a common question or problem involves the "ignition interlock device". The law on the ignition interlock device states that the Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles "shall require the placement of a department-approved ignition interlock device for any person convicted of committing an offense of driving under the influence as specified".
Traffic tickets are issued for single vehicle or car crashes. A person ticketed for careless driving, failing to maintain a lane, or any other traffic citation charge brought as a result of a crash involving only one vehicle should always chose to take the infraction to court. In that instance the person cited received the ticket because there was an accident and for no other reason.
Some traffic tickets are issued as "Infraction Court Appearance Required" sometimes also referred to as Mandatory Appearance citations. The only choice is whether to hire a lawyer or go into court unrepresented. In general, if the case requires an appearance, then the person should have counsel. Failure to appear in court will cause harsh consequences. Near the bottom of a Uniform Traffic Citation, on the left hand side there are three boxes. From top to bottom those boxes should be Criminal Traffic, Court appearance required and, Infraction which does not require appearance in court.
In traffic ticket defense a common question is whether the Defendant has to appear or show up in court. There is no requirement that an accused be present. However, whether someone should go to court depends on the case itself. In speeding tickets, the answer is almost always no, there is no need to attend. Even if the officer checked the box "Infraction Court Appearance Required", then the hearing itself is mandatory but the appearance by the client is still optional if they hire a traffic lawyer.
In the traffic ticket defense practice clients often ask for a continuance of the case. There seems to be some urban myth that if the court date or hearing is rescheduled, then it might make it more likely to conflict with schedules. Both the State via the officer and the driver or defendant can ask the court to change the trial date in a traffic citation case just like the opposing party in any other case be it criminal, injunction, family law or other civil case.
Often times, people will call my office immediately after having received a traffic ticket and ask "what are my options?" The answer like everything else in the law is that 'it depends'. Traffic citations can be criminal or civil infractions. People accused of some civil traffic infractions are required to have a hearing. We refer to these as mandatory citations.
Bradford County is located between Gainesville in Alachua County and Jacksonville in Duval County, Florida. Several agencies issue traffic tickets within Bradford County. The main police agencies are those of Starke and Lawtey. The towns of Brooker and Hampton do not have their own police force and the towns traffic laws are enforced by the Bradford County Sheriff's Office. The Florida Highway Patrol (FHP) also issues citatations on the roads of Bradford County. Starke is the county seat of Bradford County. All traffic hearings take place in Starke.
Traffic ticket defense can be rewarding and frustrating. Florida has 67 counties. That means 67 different ways of doing things. Then within those counties different judges and hearing officers with different assistants that all seem to like things done differently too. That is the frustrating part. This is also why it is important that if you want to hire a lawyer to handle your traffic citation that you select an attorney that is from the county or regularly practices within the county where you received the ticket. Consider whether you would drive from the other end of the state to either Marion County or Columbia County for the fee we charge. Do you really want an attorney from a big city down south handling your traffic case in Alachua County or Bradford County? If you are a CDL driver, and need an amendment to the citation to keep your job, this should be an important consideration.