Atlanta attorney Thomas Nagel discusses traffic court tickets

September 5, 2012

You got pulled over by Johnny Law. Now what do you do? It will take a week or so before the ticket is registered into the court system. Many citations can be paid online. However, it will probably show up on your driving record as a guilty plea. If you want to avoid this, you will have to appear in court on the date written on your ticket.

When you appear in court, you will have the opportunity to speak with the prosecutor about your case. Many courts will advise you that the prosecutor is a lawyer for the state and cannot give you legal advice. You need to have your own attorney if you want legal advice. Anything you say when you are discussing your case with the prosecutor can be used against you. If you don't practice law, this is where an experienced criminal defense lawyer can make a significant difference in the outcome of your case. For example if you are charged with speeding 80 mph in a 65 mph zone and you tell the prosecutor you were only doing 72 mph you just admitted you were driving over the speed limit and violated the law. However, if you are represented by an attorney you don't have to worry about incriminating yourself and your lawyer can negotiate a resolution of your case without the risk of admitting you violated the law.

You have many options regarding the resolution of your case in traffic court. You can plead guilty, not guilty, nolo, trial by judge and in many cases trial by jury. How you plead is dependent on the facts of your case. You should consult with an experienced criminal defense/traffic court defense lawyer to evaluate your options.

If you fail to appear in court on the date assigned for your case, the judge will typically issue a warrant for your arrest. The judge can also suspend your Georgia driver's license or privilege to drive in the State of Georgia if you are licensed to drive in another state.

Your driving record is a permanent record that follows you around for life. If you want to keep it clean, your best bet is to seek the advice of an attorney before you go to court to evaluate all of your options.