Law firm to help students trim traffic-ticket fines
If you've got those traffic tickets piled high on your desk waiting to be paid, a new service in Orange County could help you get out of your ticket for a lot less money than you would spend to simply pay the fine.
The Traffic Knights is a law firm run by attorneys that launched in May that focuses on traffic tickets and criminal traffic citations in the state of Florida.
"We came together as a new firm of seven attorneys because we saw the need to help more than 80 percent of people who do not contest their traffic infractions each year," said Charity Tonelli, president and managing partner of The Traffic Knights.
Tonelli said the service decided to use "Knights" in its name because a knight has similar attributes to that of the ideal attorney — honor, courage and integrity.
Services like The Traffic Knights aim to tackle the number of tickets given out each day. This service in particular focuses on Floridians, with a beneficial emphasis on college students.
The service offers a 10 percent discount for student drivers, for both civil and criminal charges.
With a student's income in mind, the service is able to keep costs lower than a traditional firm with the use of innovative technology.
"We developed a paperless law firm that uses a secure cloud-based technology, while also incorporating new platforms for easier client-attorney communication," Tonelli said. "We are able to offer a lower legal fee than many people would expect for an attorney, while maintaining the highest quality in our representation."
The firm focuses on the thousands of Floridians who spend their money without ever thinking they have a chance to fight their ticket, Tonelli said.
Many college students are either on-the-go or too busy with school work to focus any additional attention on a traffic ticket.
Tonelli said the service's website allows clients to easily upload their ticket onto the site, where the attorney can then review everything digitally.
The attorneys at the service aim to help clients by first taking their ticket, filing paperwork to represent them in court and then going on their behalf to try to get the ticket dismissed or reduced from the given charge.
For The Traffic Knights' service for civil cases, clients charged for speeding, careless driving or improper lane changing would pay $99.99. For tickets pertaining to window-tint violations, no proof of insurance or no registration, the fee is $39.99.
Criminal traffic cases are also handled by the service, where leaving the scene of an accident, racing or reckless driving has a fee of $999.99.
Clients charged for an open container or minor in possession would pay $739.99. For those charged with driving under the influence, the cost would be $1,499.99.
If successful, the service has a guarantee of no points to your driver's license, no time spent in court and no need to go to driving school for civil traffic citations — or the client will receive their money back.
Tonelli said the service envisions saving the average client 58 percent of the fine and hundreds of dollars of future money paid to insurance companies if simply paying the fine and having their insurance premium increase.
"Attorneys specializing in traffic-ticket defense has become a niche industry here in Central Florida," said UCF Police Department Officer Peter Stephens. "We see them all the time in traffic court."
In 2014, 270,000 traffic tickets were issued in Orange County, and of those, more than 80 percent of people paid the ticket fines or elected for driving school without talking to an attorney, Tonelli said.
"The reason most people are paying for this and not doing it themselves is probably convenience," Stephens said.
Paying a ticket without the help of the service could trigger negative long-term repercussions to someone's driver's license, Tonelli said, which could cause ripple effects to what was thought to be a temporary financial ding to their wallet.
"Many people who get traffic tickets don't realize that failing to contest their infraction can lead to higher fines, more traffic classes, higher insurance premiums and sometimes the loss of your ability to drive," she said.
With their devotion entirely on traffic violations, the attorneys know what errors to look for in a ticket to get it dismissed, how to persuade the court to award leniency and what technicalities can make or break a case.
"If you wonder if you need a traffic attorney, you probably do," Tonelli said. "And with a free consultation, what do you have to lose?"
Rachel Stuart is the News Editor for the Central Florida Future. Follow her on Twitter @RachSage or email her at RachelS@CentralFloridaFuture.com.