Traffic Tickets Are Out Of Control
In Michigan, it is estimated that every 45 seconds, a traffic ticket, such as, speeding, red light, stop sign, failure to yield, prohibited turn, following too close, dwls, drunk driving, reckless driving, MIP, careless driving, basic speed violation, at-fault accident tickets and other traffic offenses as well as ordinance violations are issued to Michigan residents.
In the USA, Traffic Tickets take in approximately $15 Billion Dollars ($15,000,000,000.00) in gross revenue from everyday drivers like you. A recent study has shown that more tickets are issued in a bad economy as opposed to a good economy which makes you wonder whether "traffic tickets are really just another form of tax on drivers."
POINTS CAN HURT YOU
Once you pay the Court (the Moving Violation 'Ticket') without a fight, Points often get assigned to your driving record. Most moving violations can result in:
restrict or suspend your driving privileges
can risk your job and employment opportunities
blemish your driving record for 7 years
effect your life insurance application
impede your livelihood and wallet
Most Traffic Convictions in Michigan Stay On Your Record For 7 Years
A conviction for most civil infraction violations stay on your driving record for up to 7 years. Traffic misdemenors stay on your record for life. Some people think that the conviction stays on your record for 2 years only. That couldn't be farther from the truth. Unfortunately, only the Points fall off after 2 years from the date of your conviction (not the date you were originally issued the ticket). To better illustrate this, read below:
" John Driver receives a 2-point speeding ticket on January 1, 2010 in Oakland/Macomb/Wayne county. Foolishly, he decides not to fight it and simply just pays it a week later on January 8, 2010.
The Court then electronically transmits his Court record of conviction to the SOS. In turn, the SOS records the violation and assigns 2 points on his driving record. The SOS will then review his record for the past 2 years to determine whether he should be asssesed driver responsibility fees but also to see if his driver's license should be suspended. These 2 points are factored in to calculate the total number of points from the date of this new 'conviction' and 2 years back.
Now, 2 years after John's conviction (January 8, 2012 in this example), the SOS is prohibited from using those 2-points to calculate 'total points' within the 2 year period. However, the "speeding ticket" conviction itself remains on John's driving record and will stay on his driving record for at least 7 years (in this example, January 8, 2017). This is how insurance companies get you. They see the conviction for up to 3 years. And Life Insurance Companies can go back as far as 5 years to set their premiums.
In this example, John's insurance company can assign him points using their own point system even after the points fall off from John's driving record. Some Insurance Companies may assign him 'more points' than what the Secretary of State Points had originally assigned him. Remember, the Insurance Company is a private entity and can use their own point-rating system-- so long as it is legal. And wouldn't you know it, it's legal for them to do it.
That's why you should always fight your ticket. It's not just the fine rather it's the aftermath effects of insurance companies taking advantage of the MI SOS point-system for their financial gain.
Don't Confuse The 'Conviction' With 'Points' On Your Driving Record
People often confuse the conviction with the Points. The fact is that the conviction stays on your record for 7 years even after the SOS points fall off (2 years from the date of the conviction). While the SOS Points fall off, yet the conviction remains there for the insurance companies and the public to see for 7 years. In other words, don't think that a reportable traffic violation from over 2 years ago has disappeared from your driving record. The conviction stays on your driving record for 7 years and if it's a traffic misdemeanor, such as drunk driving, reckless driving, driving while license suspended/revoked/Denied (DWLS), then it stays on your record for the rest of your life.
SOS POINTS vs. INSURANCE POINTS
Most Insurance Companies have their own private point rating system. This confuses many people. To better illustrate this is by way of example, if you received a speeding ticket which the SOS assigned 2 points on your driving record, it is very likely that your Insurance Company may have assigned you 3 or more of their own points on their private rating system because most insurance companies do they do not use the same rating system as the Secretary of State.
Worst is that the Secretary of State uses a 2 year look back date for calculating points on your driving record. On the other hand, most Insurance Companies can go back as much as 3 years or more to evaluate your premiums. Remember, the conviction stays on your record for 7 years.
It should be no surprise why Insurance Companies spend millions of dollars annually to get their hands on your driving record and look for tickets. Those millions of dollars they spend to collect information on your driving record often translates to increases in your auto premiums. The more points on your record, the more you will likely pay in insurance costs.
Insurance Co. Can Make You Pay More Money
In actuality, the more points assigned on your driving record, the more money insurance companies make from you. This is why you should FIGHT your ticket! Simply paying the ticket without a fight is not smart and can come back to haunt you in many ways. So before you pay that ticket, see if it carries points. If so, set a Court hearing and fight back (even if you don't hire a lawyer to defend you).
Most traffic and non-traffic ticket violations carry Points and even jail. These Points can have a huge impact in your wallet and driving privileges. To find out how many convictions or Points are on your driving record, go to any Secretary of State branch office to request your driving record. The cost is about $8.00 as of January 2010.
Civil Infraction Court Procedures
The Courts usually sets a civil infraction matter for either an Informal Hearing, Pre-Formal Hearing or Formal Hearing.
In an Informal Hearing, there are no attorneys or prosecutors. It's just you, the officer and the magistrate. You can also bring in witnesses, documents and any other evidence to support your case. You and the petitioner (police officer usually) will present the facts and a magistrate will make a decision. Please note, if it's just a matter of your word against the officer's word, it is unlikely you will prevail. If you win, the case is over. If you lose, you can appeal but the time to appeal is very short (7 days). If you do decide to appeal, you may be required to put up a bond (money) equal to the judgment.
If you follow all of the appeal procedures after an informal hearing and if your appeal is granted, the matter will be set for a FORMAL HEARING with a District Court Judge.
At a Formal Hearing, the matter will be decided by a Judge, not a magistrate. This time, a State Prosecutor or City Attorney will be assigned to the case to prosecute the violation. The police officer's role in a formal hearing will be as 'witness'. You have the right to hire an attorney.
It's foolish to go up against a Prosecuting Attorney or City attorney and expect to win. Let our experienced traffic law attorney help you.
PAY ATTENTION: If you have been issued a civil infraction, such as speeding, stop sign, red light, fail to yield, prohibited turn, careless driving in Michigan, you should contact the Court to schedule a hearing date. On the ticket, it will indicate a due date to respond, usually between 10 to 21 days. If you do not respond or retain an attorney to do this for you, the Court will enter a default judgment against you. A Default can result in additional penalties/fines as well as subject you Driver's License to be suspended.
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