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The following article was written by Jenny Grace.  She can be reached at her company Jenny Grace Editorial.

Your typical scenario…

Perhaps you were tooling down one of New Hampshire’s well-tended interstates on a clear June day, trying to make good time to get to the Motor Speedway, and forgetting as your foot pressed on the gas pedal that you weren’t a race car driver but were in fact a responsible adult who must obey the law. So when the state trooper’s vivid lights appeared in your rear view mirror, your heart caught as you checked your speed. If only you’d been relying on cruise control.

What are your options?

What are your options in this unfortunate and soon-to-be expensive situation? And how well-informed are you regarding New Hampshire traffic ticket fines and costs? Most of us need a little educating when we find ourselves in this sort of mess; being informed will help us remain calm and then decide on the best course of action to mitigate our error—whether we can go it alone or find the right lawyer to help us out.

Some myths about speeding in NH…

In May of 2014, WMUR 9 reported some data that can shed a little light on a few of the myths and mysteries of speeding in this New England state. For example, is it true that driving just under 10 mph over the speed limit will not attract the unwanted attention of a state trooper? News 9 reported that most tickets were in fact issued for driving 16 mph above the speed limit. Law enforcement disagrees with these statistics, asserting that they will ticket any driver who travels over the speed limit—since their objective is to encourage safety on the roads, not fill any state quotas. According to News 9 most fines are usually $155 and above. Read more: http://www.wmur.com/article/news-9-investigates-speeding-tickets-in-new-hampshire/5134096

In New Hampshire Magazine’s 2015 article, Should You Fight or Pay That Ticket? Jeff Woodburn effectively describes the current speeding ticket climate in the state.  Four years ago an initiative in the New Hampshire Judicial Branch was formed—“an early and mandatory pre-trial negotiation session.”   The effect is undeniable, according to Woodburn, “A full 80 percent of all minor vehicle offenses are resolved without a trial…”  What’s entailed? If you plead guilty to a minor motor vehicle charge, and avoid court, and attend a meeting with the prosecutor with the resolution or compromise in mind, litigation can be avoided.

Negotiating Down Your Speeding Ticket

How do you negotiate down your speeding ticket? Attorney Gabriel Nizetic recommends not arguing but supplying sound reasons in a timely manner for the prosecutor to reduce the ticket. Why were you speeding is the point, not how great a parent or citizen you are. This new system has lightened the load of judges in New Hampshire. If your fine is light, it doesn’t make sense to go to court and fight over $50.00. Fines depend on your speed, ranging from about $50.00 to close to $400.00. Obviously there are reasons to fight the ticket, from higher insurance rates to points on your license. To read more visit: http://www.nhmagazine.com/November-2015/Should-you-fight-or-pay-that-ticket/

Speeding Ticket Basics

So what’s essential to understanding speeding tickets in New Hampshire? Traffic ticket fines are consistent throughout the state, so the consequences on I-93 will be the same as on a rural route leading to Mount Washington. If you have questions regarding your fine, visit this page: http://www.dmv.org/nh-new-hampshire/traffic-ticket-fines-and-penalties.php or call the DMV (603) 227-4010. Remember, even if you decide you want to pay your ticket, if the appear in court box is checked, you must do so, and on the date noted.

To pay your ticket, or plead guilty/no contest, you may do so online at http://www.dmv.org/nh-new-hampshire/paying-traffic-tickets.php, but make sure you recognize how many points will be reflected on your driving record and whether or not this could lead to license suspension. You can possibly have the option of taking a driver improvement program to reduce the unwanted points. Traffic violations can rack up as many as 1-6 points on your license. Any points will remain on your license for three full years. These factors can cause your insurance rates to go up.

Driver Improvement Program

To reduce three points on your license, visit an approved Driver Improvement Program or a defensive driving course. There are many options:

  • the Safe Driver Course, which will decrease the points by three;
  • the Driver Attitude Program, which would restore a revoked license; and
  • the Defensive Driving Course

These courses run between six to eight hours.

Insurance Driver Record

Your New Hampshire driving record will have all the information you need, including whether or not you are eligible for the driver improvement program and when the course may be available to you. The Insurance Driver Record has your traffic violations and accidents going back five years for court convictions, and three years for accidents. You can order your record by mail or in person at your local DMV office (but not online) for a $15 fee.

By mail:
NH Department of Safety
DMV – FR Driving Records, 23 Hazen Drive
Concord, NH 03305

Make sure your driving record is accurate to avoid increased insurance premiums, fines or license suspension.

Suspended License

What if your license has been suspended? If this is the case, due to too many points from speeding for example, you will need to complete all requirements to have it reinstated.   Your suspension notice will come from the New Hampshire DMV and could range from 90 days to two years, depending on the degree of reckless driving and any prior violations. If you wish to contest your suspension, you can request an administrative hearing within a specified period. For more info you can email: safety-hearings@dos.nh.gov

Hiring a Lawyer and Pleading Not Guilty

Okay, so you’ve decided you want to contest your traffic ticket. This right is absolutely yours. If you have a strong defense with a skillful lawyer by your side, you can have the favorable result of reduced charges or even dismissal. You also have the option of representing yourself if you feel well enough informed and capable. You, or you and your lawyer, will initially meet with the court prosecutor at what is called a pre-trial conference. If an agreement cannot be reached, you will be assigned a second court date, but this time before a judge. Remember there will be courtroom and attorney fees if you go the route of legal representation, but if you manage to keep points off your license, or keep your license from being suspended, and keep your insurance rates down—the financial scales will tip in your favor.  A traffic lawyer will be informed with the laws in New Hampshire, and have the expertise to deal with the court system. Remember that your insurance will only increase following a conviction—more incentive to contest any tickets you consider undeserved. A traffic attorney is skilled at handling speeding and reckless driving violations–as well as far worse offenses that carry heftier complications.

Tips for Finding the Appropriate Attorney

Once you’ve decided to hire an attorney, remember that you can typically obtain a free consultation to determine whether or not he or she is the right professional to represent you. Compare rates as well, and research the attorney’s track record. The lawyer you choose is vital to the results of your case. Take your time making this decision. Talk to former clients and discover how satisfied they were with their legal representation.

You have 30 days to decide…

No matter if you are pleading guilty or not guilty, you must do so within 30 days of having received the ticket. If you’ve misplaced the ticket visit the Lost Traffic Ticket page.

If you are found guilty, you will be required to pay fines, court fees as well as any legal fees. Additionally, points will be incurred on your license, and if your speeding was excessive, your license could possibly be suspended. Don’t forget to check in with your insurance company to see how your payments will be affected.