I get plenty of phone calls asking why, since the nice officer wrote an amount on the bottom of that traffic ticket, the caller should not simply pay the ticket off, and not have to take time off to go to court. It’s a valid question, especially when you may otherwise think of taking a Friday morning off from work, to seek a reduction on your ticket.
Those who call the office get an honest assessment. For some tickets, yes, you are free to pay the fines and court costs, and avoid the inconvenience of going to court. What you may not know in advance of paying the ticket, is that the payment is a guilty plea with no reduction. And that means you may be pleading to a traffic charge that could revoke or suspend your driver’s license. Or it could add one or more insurance points, causing your car insurance to go up 30% 45% or even 80%—just for what appeared to be a simple speeding ticket! And since those points last three years, be careful what you decide to pay off!
This is really one area where it pays to call an attorney. Rarely do attorneys charge a consultation fee for a simple speeding ticket, so you have virtually nothing to lose. An attorney can advise on the license points and insurance points associated with a simple traffic ticket. And with your responses to a few simple questions, an attorney can likely forecast the outcome of your ticket if you retain their services.
Knowledge is power. Call an attorney before you decide to pay off a ticket, or to do it yourself.
I often get the phone call, “Will you check our internet Will, to make sure it is valid?”
Often a Will prepared on the internet enables a user to select from multiple choice options on a pull-down menu. Some cover the necessary bases, others do not. And as advanced as machines are, the computer-generated program on the other end of your connection has not gotten to know your individualized circumstances. For instance, it may not be aware that you are in a serious relationship that is likely to be formalized by marriage in the next year or so, that there is a son or daughter you’ve already spend $25,000 on, for drug rehabilitation, and that while you love them, you simply don’t want to ‘over-give’ from your bounty in a manner that you may consider unfair to your other children. You may be careful not to tell a computer that you were recently diagnosed with a progressive illness that may become disabling or lead to cognitive limitations a decade down the road. And for good reason: we read every day about private data being sold to app-makers and advertisers.
I get similar questions about ‘internet deeds’ prepared either online or using a template. Those, too, can be misleading, in part because of their apparent simplicity.
Then there are the online rental agreements, the online business contracts, the online separation agreements, and the list goes on. There can be a surprisingly high cost for choosing what may first look like a low price. But you rarely know this up front, and finding out later might actually be too late. If you are willing to trust your financial well-being to a machine-generated document, you should understand it may come with unknown risks.
You may minimize your risks by contacting an attorney that is licensed in your State.
Problems with car titles? Who can help?
I ordinarily write about problems that I can help ‘fix’. Maybe this time, the question is whether I can prevent a problem from surfacing for those who read this.
Sometimes people are willing to go to extraordinary lengths to drive a vehicle. If you are ineligible for a license, you may not be eligible to transfer title to a vehicle to your name, though. Some have decided to buy a vehicle and have it registered in the name of a relative or friend who does have a drivers license, and when they do this, they are basically making a gift to their relative or friend. If you drive without a license, you can get a ticket. If you drive without insurance, you can get cited for that violation, also. Additionally, the friend may be charged with allowing an unlicensed person to drive their vehicle, which can have consequences in court with fines, as well as insurance consequences, and in certain circumstances could subject the vehicle to forfeiture. And if you were to have an accident, the registered owner’s insurance can come back against you for damages caused by your negligence.
But what if you have second thoughts about having spent $13,000 on that 2012 Honda Civic, and want it ‘back’? Did you realize that the friend in whose name you placed it now “OWNS” it, legally? So if you take the vehicle after the friend demands its return, you may be charged with some level of car theft, unauthorized use, or fraud. Not a desirable outcome.
About on a weekly basis, I have a client come to complain that he wants his car, and the person who is “holding title” to it will not give it back or transfer title. There is the legal problem of “registered owner”. Then there is the argument that the client made an investment of the car, has used the car exclusively for a couple years, and wants it placed in his own name, as the ‘equitable owner’ of the vehicle. Sounds reasonable? Perhaps. But if you are seeking an equitable remedy like this, you must have what the Court would call “clean hands” in the matter. That may be very hard to prove.
Prevention is usually the best defense, before you find yourself—and your friend—in trouble. Breaking the law is not worth the risk.