You were driving the other day, minding your own business, when you noticed the flashing blue and red lights in your mirror. You pulled over and tried to offer an explanation to the police officer but he wouldn’t listen and gave you a citation instead.
If this has happened to you, you can fight back! You can use the court system to try to win your case or reduce the penalties.
As an initial matter, there are two types of traffic citations in Hawaii. Whether you received one or the other (or both) dictates your approach to the case. Citations are issued for Traffic Crimes or for Traffic Infractions.
This type of citation is for offenses like Driving without a License or Excessive Speeding. Traffic crimes are either misdemeanors or petty misdemeanors. You can tell a citation is for a traffic crime because the citation number includes the letters “DTC” and the officer wrote a court date on the bottom of the ticket.
To discuss your options for defending against this type of citation, contact me for a FREE consultation.
This type of citation is for de-criminalized offenses like Speeding or Unsafe Lane Change. There is no possible jail time for traffic infractions; a fine is the typical penalty. An infraction citation number includes the letters “DTI.”
The primary advantage in defending against a traffic infraction is the “contested hearing” stage of the process. Upon request, a contested hearing is held before a judge. The defendant (or his or her attorney) may present evidence or even point out legal deficiencies in the citation. The defendant has a certain advantage because a prosecutor is prohibited from being involved in this hearing. There is no government attorney to argue against a defendant. If the defendant’s argument is persuasive with the judge, he or she will win the case.
On the other hand, if the judge enters judgment for the State, the defendant may request a trial. At this point, a prosecutor would get the case and prepare for trial.
Another wrinkle in this process is the default judgment, where a defendant failed to take any action and judgment was entered for the State. If you received a Notice of Default Judgment in the mail, you are not out of options! Before you give up and pay the fines, contact me for a FREE consultation.