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A typical scenario…

You’re driving along, taking in the beauty of the South Dakota Badlands on a cool, fall morning. The road winds through the mountains and mesas that dot the landscape, and you suddenly see the road stretch out in front of you, a long, flat piece of road that looks like it goes on for miles. You check the rear-view mirror as you push down on the pedal, and the road begins to fall away quicker and quicker. Not a car in sight, so you decide to just put that hammer down and see what your car can really do. As you get it up to about 90, you decide that’s enough of an adrenaline rush, so you begin to slow down.

But it’s too late. As you wind down to about 70, you check the rear-view again, and you see that you have company. Not the welcome kind, but the kind that you get when you’re going to be sorry to wee them. You roll down the window as the trooper walks up to your car and you hear those dreaded words, “License and registration please.” “But officer!”, you say, “I was just…”. He cuts you off in mid-sentence. “License and registration.” You know you’re done for, you’re getting a ticket, and now you have to deal with it. Lots of questions begin running through your mind, so here are some answers to help you out.

What are my options?

Usually, this question really means “How can I get out of this!” Getting out of a speeding ticket without having to lay out some cash or taking a costly dent to your driving record is always the best option, but not so easy to pull off.

#1: Plead guilty (it’s easy-peasy, but not always a good idea)

You can plead “guilty,” pay some money, and get back to living your life. This is the easiest, but often not the best, option and makes things quick and easy. Before you choose this one, though, consider what could happen:

  • Traffic offenses, including speeding and other moving violations, are reported to the South Dakota Driver’s License Division AND to other states as well. So even if you don’t live in South Dakota, your driving record could take a hit in the state where you do live.
  • The South Dakota Division of Motor Vehicles uses a point system to track violations and penalties. Points accumulate on your driving record, which could result in your license being suspended or revoked. If you accrue 15 points in 12 consecutive months or 22 points in 24 consecutive months, you could lose your license. You can check out how the point system works at the DMV site for South Dakota. Most convictions will remain on your record for at least five years.
  • Like drivers in most states, South Dakota drivers that accrue points on their driving record are most likely going to pay higher insurance premiums.
  • Depending on how fast you were going and how many other tickets you may have, costs can be significant when you take into account the cost of the ticket, court costs, and additional fees. The bright spot here is that you may qualify for driving school that could help reduce costs and points.

#2: Plead not guilty

You could just plead “not guilty” if you think you received the ticket and didn’t break the law. The key word here is “think.” A successful defense better be more than just a thought, it must be based on some real reasons why you shouldn’t have gotten that speeding ticket at all. What? You can’t think of any real reasons you shouldn’t have gotten that ticket? Then you better think twice about this option. Courts don’t appreciate you wasting their time unless there is a good reason and this move may prevent you from qualifying for any reduction in costs or points, and even disqualify you from getting a break from taking a driving class, which you might have to take anyway!

#3 Hire an attorney

This is often the best option unless you can pull off #2, and while it’s no guarantee you will come out squeaky clean, it usually will save you some money, both up front and later on insurance, and keep the points on your record to a minimum. Hiring an attorney just increases the odds that you will be able to take care of that ticket with the least possible pain and trouble and while, yes, attorneys do cost money, the cost is often less than you may think and could very well save you money over the long run. Here are a few reasons you would want to consider this option.

  • An experienced traffic attorney knows the laws and understands what, if any, gray areas might be available to have the costs and points reduced or even have the whole thing dismissed.
  • Attorneys know the lay of the land. They often know many local and state officers, judges, and other attorneys creating a network of people for resources, kind of one of those “it’s who you know” scenarios.
  • They’ve done this before, maybe many, many times, so they know what to expect, how to handle questions and responses and how to present you in the most favorable light.

So How Do You Find This Amazing Attorney?

Well, online, of course.  You can try Avvo, or you can search by Googling “traffic attorney south dakota”.  You can also give BernieSez a try, Just take a picture of your ticket, and upload it from the button below.  It’s simple and free.

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