Coming from work a police ran my plates and pulled me over. He told me my DL was expired and issued a court citation. He said I will have to explain the judge why I haven't renewed it.
Details: My DL expired way more than 4 months ago, but my immigration status doesn't allow me to renew it yet, it might take another 6 months until I can get my DL renewed. I have been in FL for 10 years and have perfect driving record. I will hire a lawyer but these are my questions:
Do I have to be present in court? Is it possible just to pay the fines and try to renew my DL in 6 to 8 months when I'm allowed? What should I expect in court? Do you think the judge will require details about my INS status or stay with the traffic issue only? Please advice about what is the best approach in this case. Thxs
I'm not sure why the LEO pulled me over, I had just turned on the street and was waiting on a red light when I saw him approaching behind me, he stop and started to look down on his computer, I guess he was reading my tag, he followed me for a block and then stopped me. I was not speeding, tags are valid, no tinted windows and the car is registered under my name, I own it. I thought it was random. Do you think is possible to postpone the court date, and for how long?
Speeding / Traffic Ticket Lawyer
Yes you should hire an attorney to go to court, so you don't have to worry about answering question as to your immigration status, but I do not believe the traffic court judge will care about your immigration status unless you admit in open court that you are here unlawfully. The first thing you need to get the traffic attorney to consider is why the LEO pulled you over anyway. Why did he pull you over, speeding, tags expired, carelessness, tinted windows or just for fun? I'm not for certain, but MAYBE you can get some sort of hardship DL? Maybe another traffic attorney can answer or an immigration attorney. I would repost this question also as an immigration question too, just to double-check.
Police nowadays have the ability to check you out merely by driving behind you and reading your tag - big brother has arrived. Do you own the car you were driving? Finding a tag that is registered to an owner with an expired license is one thing, but knowing that driver is behind the wheel is another. For example, if the car is registered to a female and you are a male, then perhaps the whole thing can be thrown out.
Another issue to beware of is to try to avoid getting a guilty plea on tis, even if you get a withhold of adjudication, as that would cause another suspension of your license. So be wary of just "paying the fine" with a plan to simply renew later. Be sure of the length of any suspension from paying the fine - it may match up with your time required to renew anyway, but still is the less optimal solution.
With your good record, I am sure the court would prefer if you simply obtained a valid license, then they would amend the charge to "no valid license," a non-criminal charge, and you could go on your way. So, your lawyer may want to delay your case until you can obtain a valid license.
Criminal Defense Attorney
You should hire an attorney to address the possible suppression issues in your case. It does not sound like the officer had reasonable suspicion that a traffic violation or crime had been committed in order to pull you over. An attorney would be able to review the facts of your case and determine if there is a suppression issue which could lead to your case being dismissed.
If you hire a lawyer, you will not have to appear in court unless you accept a plea offer or go to trial. However, the judge will not ask about your immigration status. Judges inform ALL defendants about the possible ramifications entering a plea can have on immigration status specifically so that they do not have to inquire into each defendant's immigration status.
If you would like to discuss your case further, please feel free to call me.