Making Sure Small Mistakes Don't Have Big Financial Repercussions

Between work, appointments, kids’ activities, and errands, some days it feels like we spend more time on wheels than we do on our own two feet. With so much time spent in the car, even the most careful of drivers might find themselves confronted with the occasional traffic citation. If your ticket comes with a reduction in points on your driver’s license, or if you feel as though you were not at fault in an accident, it may be worthwhile to speak with one of our attorneys to reduce or eliminate the penalty.

We Handle A Variety Of Traffic Matters, Including:

  • Speeding Tickets
  • Driver’s License Suspension and Restoration
  • Points Reduction
  • Fee Reduction and Dismissal
  • Excessive Speeding Tickets
  • Fighting Traffic Citations
  • Note: Our firm does not currently handle criminal matters, so we are presently unable to assist with traffic matters involving criminal charges.

    What Is The Points System?

    Wisconsin, like most other states, uses a driver’s license point system to hold people responsible for driving safely and to clearly define grounds for license suspension. Drivers begin with 0 points, indicating a clean driving record. Points are assessed following conviction of traffic offenses, with the number of points assigned corresponding to the severity of the offense. Accumulating 12 or more points in a year or less prompts suspension of driving privileges for at least two months.

    When a driver is assessed points for a violation, the convicting jurisdiction transmits record of the offense to the state Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV). Points typically remain on a person’s driving record with the DMV for five years. In addition, auto insurance companies also maintain records of points received. These records are used to quantify the level of risk associated with insuring someone. If someone accrues points, their car insurance company could increase their monthly coverage premium to compensate for the risk related to insuring an unsafe driver.

    Certain violations, like parking tickets and other citations assessed on non-moving vehicles, often don’t include a point assessment penalty, and are satisfied with payment of a fine. Drivers who do receive points for their violation, with or without an associated fine, frequently have the option to negotiate with the prosecutor or municipal authority to reduce the number of points acquired.

    So You Received A Citation. Now What?

    Whether you were pulled over for speeding, operating on a suspended license, driving too fast for road conditions, or another traffic violation, your mistake could prove costly in fines or reduction of points on your license. If you receive a traffic citation, you have two main options:

    • You could choose to settle the matter by paying the fine. Paying the fine you were assessed equates to pleading guilty in legal terms, and signals that you accept that you were in the wrong and agree to whatever repercussions that the state considers fair. Paying a fine also means giving up your right to contest the matter in Court. While this option means paying a penalty, receiving a reduction in points, or both, in some cases it is worthwhile because of its simplicity. If the assessed fine is reasonable or this is your first offense, you might consider paying the fee and moving on.

    • If you have received multiple citations within a short period of time, are assessed a large fine, or believe that you were not at fault in the incident, another option is to contest the matter. Often, this means appearing in Court to enter a not-guilty plea. In most counties, the person who received the ticket (the defendant) is also given time during the initial Court appearance to negotiate with the prosecution, usually a representative from the municipality where the offense occurred. If the negotiation fails, the defendant receives a date and time to return to Court for a trial, where a judge or commissioner hears details of the incident and and decides the appropriate penalty. A defendant has the right to request a trial by jury if they so choose, provided that they do so at least ten days in advance of the trial date.

      Another option to contest a traffic citation is to send in a not-guilty plea via mail in advance of the Court date listed on the citation. The way that mail-in pleas are dealt with varies by county in Wisconsin. In some jurisdictions, mailing in a plea means that you are obligated to attend a pre-trial conference to discuss the matter and your plea in detail. In others, a defendant who pleads not guilty will be scheduled for trial, so a judge or commissioner can review the facts and determine liability.

    How Do I Negotiate A Citation?

    Some jurisdictions permit defendants to negotiate traffic citations with the prosecutor when there is disagreement about the offense or penalty. Negotiating tickets without taking them to trial can free up the Court’s docket for more serious matters while still ensuring that someone who is accused of an offense is able to act on their right to disagree with it. Someone who wishes to contest a traffic matter can do so in several different ways:

  • Depending on the offense and penalty amount, it may be possible to get a ticket reduced. This could mean decreasing the associated fee, reducing the number of points lost, or opting for a lesser charge, for example speeding rather than excessive speeding. Reducing a citation indicates settling for a lesser penalty even if there is sufficient evidence to prove that the defendant committed the offense for which they received the ticket. In some counties, defendants can also go before the judge or commissioner to request a reduction.
  • Another option for settlement could be holding the defendant responsible for the penalty associated with only one citation if a driver received multiple tickets relating to the same incident. In this case, prosecution would agree to drop one or more tickets in exchange for satisfaction in full of the penalty associated with one ticket.
  • A third outcome of negotiation could involve the driver attending Court-approved traffic safety courses to satisfy a citation. While traffic safety courses are mandatory in certain cases, as with severe offenses or multiple offenses in a short period of time, the prosecution may allow drivers who wouldn’t otherwise be eligible attend traffic school to satisfy their citation. In some cases, the prosecution will agree to remove the citation from a person’s driving record if they voluntarily attend traffic safety courses.
  • After the prosecutor and the driver agree on a compromise, the prosecutor will present the terms of the negotiation to the Court. If the parties have reached a clear compromise, the judge or Court commissioner will approve the settlement, and the defendant should arrange for satisfaction of its terms accordingly. If the settlement is denied by the judge, or if negotiation is unsuccessful, the matter proceeds to trial.