There are two ways for any one person to end up with a lawyer. Either one is assigned to you through the courts because you cannot afford one, or you select one yourself. With regards to traffic law, attorneys typically are not assigned, with a few exceptions. Usually, if at all, traffic law attorneys are selected by those facing charges. Here are the differences between assigned and chosen lawyers in traffic court.

Truly Minor Offenses

The truly minor offenses require no lawyer. In fact, if you get a speeding ticket and/or a few points knocked off your license, it would cost you considerably more to hire a lawyer to correct what you consider an injustice. It makes more sense to wait for larger and more costly offenses. 

Bigger Crimes, Bigger Times, and Chosen Lawyers

Traffic law cases where you may be facing jail time, fines greater than $1,000, or both, are exactly the times you need a lawyer. At this point, you are still free to choose a lawyer and hire one, but one will not be appointed to you. These crimes involve accidents, personal injuries to others, destruction of property, and/or brazen ignorance of responsibility while operating a vehicle. Most of these crimes are still considered misdemeanors in most states.

Really Big Crimes and Appointed Lawyers

When the court offers to appoint a lawyer to you, then you know that your traffic violations are serious enough to warrant a lawyer in the court's eyes. You should definitely accept an appointed lawyer, if you cannot afford one. You most definitely should not be without one. 

These particularly large and offensive crimes include repeat OWIs/DUIs and/or fatalities as a result of your decision to drink or take drugs and drive. You will be charged and arraigned, and then either sit in jail or make bail. During this time, you will need a lawyer as much as you will need one during major hearings and court proceedings.

If you are not sure you want to be represented by a public defender, but you have not secured a lawyer prior to your arraignment, you can use the services of the public defender to get bail set. Then look for your own lawyer once you are home again. If you do not get out on bail (which is rare, even for extreme traffic crimes), you will need a close friend or family member to find a lawyer for you. Visit a site like for more help.