Legal Advice - Traffic Tickets



The Opinions Of Steven R. Tinsley, Attorney at Law


WARNING:        Free legal advice may only be worth the amount that you paid for it.

WARNING:          If this free legal advice is worth anything, it is worth whatever it is worth in Florida only.  Every State has its own DUI laws and nothing that follows is expected to have any application outside of Florida.



1.              THE FIRST RULE ABOUT TRAFFIC TICKETS.  Traffic tickets are tricky.

2.                     THE SECOND RULE ABOUT TRAFFIC TICKETS:  It can be very difficult to determine the exact nature of a particular traffic ticket.  (Please go back to Rule One, review, then continue.)


Some traffic tickets accuse the recipient of traffic infractions.  The worst that can happen is that the recipient will lose his driver’s license until the ticket is dealt with.  Some traffic tickets accuse the recipient of committing a crime.  Failure to respond correctly to a ticket that charges a crime can result in up to a year in the county jail.  One type of traffic ticket accuses the recipient of committing a crime and also gives notice that the driving privilege of the recipient has already been suspended for periods ranging from 6 months to 18 months or indefinitely.


       Some traffic tickets are prepared by a printer that is very exact and very legible.  Some tickets are prepared in handwriting that is indistinguishable from the handwriting of a person experiencing a grand mal seizure.  To complicate matters, police officers frequently make mistakes when filling out traffic tickets.  (Please go back to Rule One and review before continuing.)  The copy of the traffic ticket that is given to the recipient is a carbon copy that may or, or may not, have the same little boxes checked as the original copy that the police officer filled out in ink on top.  The top copy of the ticket, which is filled out in ink, is the controlling document even though the one given to the recipient may be different due to slippage of the bottom copies.  (Please take a moment to recall Rule One before continuing).  Because the ticket may cause the recipient to go to jail or to be on foot for periods of up to 18 months or longer, it would be a good idea to understand your ticket.  This understanding is complicated by the First Rule of traffic tickets.


       One particularly nasty type of traffic ticket issued in Florida is so confusing that some lawyers do not understand it.  That particular ticket charges a crime punishable by 6, 9 or 12 months in jail.  It suspends the driving privilege for between 6, 12 or 18 months.  It gives the recipient exactly 10 days to challenge the suspension but it does so only by telling the recipient that he or she may request a review.  The ticket itself acts as a temporary drivers license for 10 days but it does so by saying that it may be a temporary drivers license valid for only 7 days (or 10 days depending on how current the citation may be). All of which brings us to the third rule of traffic tickets.


3.              THE THIRD RULE ABOUT TRAFFIC TICKETS.  Traffic tickets are really tricky.




A.   SIGN THE TICKET.     Because tickets can be so severe in their consequences, it can become a very big issue as to whom a ticket was actually given (*because of the S.O.D.D.I. defense).  To insure that the tickets will have the desired effect on the person charged, it is a crime, in Florida, to refuse to sign a ticket.  The ticket may only charge speeding (which may have as a consequence a fine or a driver’s license suspension) but the act of refusing to sign a ticket is a crime punishable by up to one year in jail.  (If you are uncertain, you may inquire of any attorney and he/she will assure you that jail sucks and that one year in jail sucks a whole lot.)  Signing the ticket merely means that the recipient acknowledges having received the ticket.  It is not an admission of guilt. 


You should sign the ticket with your usual signature just in case your evil twin brother has taken up the habit of using your name when he is ticketed.  This situation is not as uncommon as you would think.  It happens so frequently that many officers require the recipient to put a thumb print onto the citation.  You should be comforted by this procedure.  You may want to mount a S.O.D.D.I.* defense yourself and a fingerprint would make your case.


B.   CONSULT AN ATTORNEY REGARDING YOUR TICKET.  This is a good point to review the first and third rules of traffic tickets.  Most criminal defense attorneys will give you a free consultation and tell you what to do with your ticket if you remember to bring the ticket to the consultation.  Hopefully the advice will be to tell you to go to driving school and to start following the driving laws.  Unfortunately the consultation may be very unpleasant and may involve the use of scary words like jail or prison.  In the latter case, you will need a criminal defense attorney that you trust with important parts of your life.  It would be a bad time to stick your head in the sand or to retain the services of a real estate attorney to mount your criminal defense.






*  S.O.D.D.I. defense:  Some Other Dude Done It!