Just about all of us have been pulled over on a traffic stop and issued one or more tickets. Some people have worse driving habits than others, so they probably have more traffic convictions on their driving record than other drivers. Given the fines, court costs, points against your license and drastically increased insurance premiums after one or more traffic offense convictions, you might not want to just pay the ticket and go about your life. Assuming that you intend to go to traffic court, here’s some solid advice on what you should and should not do in traffic court.
Turn Your Phone Off
Don’t turn your phone to vibrate or silent. Turn it off completely. If you’re found to be using your cell phone in any way while court is in session, you can expect to have it taken away until such time as your case is done being heard. You’ll draw the attention of both the prosecutor and the judge. You don’t want to prejudice your case before it’s even called. Turn your phone off before you even enter the courtroom.
Be On Time
You don’t want to be in traffic court, so the sooner that you’re there and checked in, the sooner that you can get out of there too. Aside from that, you’re likely to have the opportunity to listen to cases that are heard before your case. The impressions that you get about the prosecutor and the judge might influence how you want to proceed. In some states, you need not even be present for traffic court if you retain an attorney to represent you there. If you’re required to appear, attorney cases are called first. He or she can save you hours of time.
Address the Judge as “Your Honor”
Judges wear black robes as a symbolistic tradition. The robe shows everybody in the courtroom that he or she is there to uphold the U.S. Constitution and the laws of the state that you received your ticket in. If you’re required to answer questions from the prosecutor, he or she should be addressed as sir or ma’am. If you’re required to answer any questions from the judge, he or she is to be addressed as “Your Honor.”
Dressing in shorts and and old shirt with sandals doesn’t make a good impression at all. Your choice of attire can make a subliminal impression on both a prosecutor and a judge. Dress like you care about what’s going to transpire. Race, religion or nationality don’t matter. A driver who is appropriately attired for court is going to be taken far more seriously than somebody who dresses like they don’t care what happens to them.
Conduct Yourself Respectfully
Whether you’re preparing to go through a magnetometer at the front door of the courthouse, checking in with a court clerk or speaking with court security inside of the courtroom, conduct yourself respectfully. Never raise your voice, be indignant or otherwise display improper behavior. Court personnel appreciate good manners. A 30-minute wait before your case is called can easily turn into a three-hour wait.
Anybody who is charged with a driving offense above and beyond a parking ticket should never enter a courtroom without a lawyer. Unexpected adverse consequences can occur, and a conviction on one or more offenses can result in insurance premium increases of thousands of dollars over a period of years. Don’t be penny wise and pound foolish. Always consult with an experienced traffic attorney well ahead of your court date. You’ll be listened to carefully, and you can expect that all of your questions will be answered. After that, you can make an educated decision on your legal options.