As is generally spelled out on their citations, traffic offenders usually have three options:
- Simply pay the fine, which is considered a conviction, resulting in points assessed against your license and possible insurance rate increases. Additionally, accumulating a certain number of points on your license during a specified time period may result in license suspension. Fines (or “Civil Penalties,” as they are gently referred to on the citations themselves) vary, but are usually at least $150. So, this option is relatively low-hassle, but expensive in the immediate term and potentially far more expensive in the long term.
- Go to traffic school. Successful completion of a Driver Improvement Course will generally avoid the assessment of points against your license, but you still have to pay the “Civil Penalty” and court costs. This option is expensive and time consuming, as physical driver improvement courses involve sitting in a classroom for four hours, and the online versions of the courses use timing mechanisms to make sure you spend the same four hours sitting in front of your computer.
- Request a hearing. This is a crapshoot, since the police officer who pulled you over may fail to show up at the hearing, in which case charges are dismissed and you get away scot-free. However, if the officer does show up, you end up in the same situation as with Option 1, except worse since you have to pay court costs. Either way, you spent all morning at the courthouse.
As a seasoned human being who has held a driver’s license for almost 40 years, I can say, albeit not proudly, that I have some experience with each of those options.
What the citations fail to tell you, though, is that there is a fourth option: Justin Diamond, Esq. and his Traffic Ticket Team. (There are many other law firms that specialize in traffic tickets, but I have personal experience only with Mr. Diamond’s practice.)
Under Option 4 (let’s call it “The Diamond Option”), you call Mr. Diamond’s office, give the professional, courteous paralegal that answers the phone the citation number and your credit card information, and that’s it. You are done. The firm will charge you for their services, usually $59 (no typo, only $59!), and represent you in the matter of your traffic violation. And somehow, magically, it seems, most of the time they get your case dismissed. Again, I do not say this with pride, but ever since a millennial friend of mine recommended Mr. Diamond’s firm a few years back, I have benefited from its services on several occasions. So far, Mr. Diamond and his team have never failed to either get the charges against me totally dismissed (no fine, no points, zero dollars, except for the $59 legal fee), or, in the worst case, have adjudication withheld, which means I pay court costs, but no fine and no points.
So, let’s say you are caught speeding. You know you were speeding. You have no problem admitting that you broke the law. You have no problem with standing up and taking the punishment for your transgression. But given the existence of “The Diamond Option,” any other course of action is clearly irrational. And that is a sad thing, because it means that the most efficient and effective way to deal with a traffic violation is to hire someone to exploit the technicalities, flaws and shortcomings of our legal system.
The pragmatist in me takes “The Diamond Option.” The idealist in me wishes it weren’t viable.
Photo by wallyg (Flickr.com) [CC BY 2.0 (http://creativecommons.org/licenses/by/2.0)], via Wikimedia Commons