Is Internet Presence important for lawyers? Here’s a true tale…
Recently, I had the privilege of chatting with a New York State police trooper not far outside the town of Roscoe, New York, heading toward Binghamton.
I was intent on reaching my destination safely that day, while the officer seemed intent on handing out tickets.
As I crested the hill before me along NYS Route 17, I spotted five police cars ahead of me on the shoulder of the road, lights flashing, having pulled-over other drivers. I quickly glanced down at the speedometer to check my speed — I was driving under the 65 MPH limit — and safely drove past all of the stopped cars. As soon as I did, the police car in the lead position (he had been sitting on the shoulder of the road, lights not flashing) pulled off the shoulder and onto the highway, and proceeded to pull me over.
What had I done wrong?
Anyone? Anyone care to guess?
I was accused of violating New York State’s “move over law” — the infamous 1144 — which requires drivers to move over one full lane when approaching a stopped emergency vehicle on the shoulder of the road.
What? You haven’t heard of that law?
Unfortunately, that is no excuse.
A conviction of 1144 carries a penalty of 2 points on your license, and a minimum fine of $275 plus court costs. All the more ridiculous, because I knew this was a “sting”. The cars before me may have been legitimately stopped for speeding, but the police car waiting at the head of the line with no lights flashing was clearly waiting to accuse someone of violating the move over law.
Upon returning home, I did what any self-respecting individual would do in this circumstance — I Googled it! I quickly discovered that there were hundreds of other people who had fallen victim, and that there was a thriving industry of traffic ticket lawyers who will offer to represent you and attempt to get the charges against you reduced. My online research revealed four law firms that seemed to have cornered the market — I called the one whose name sounded the most honest.
Do lawyers need Internet Presence?
Most individuals who receive a traffic ticket for a moving violation like this one seek the help of an attorney, because points against your license can result in higher insurance premiums. If you have a product or service that people are searching for, it’s imperative that you get found when they are searching. The law firms that cornered the online market for traffic ticket attorneys in New York State clearly recognize this.
Am I in prison?
No. After speaking with a traffic ticket attorney in upstate New York, I decided to fight the ticket myself. I wrote to the District Attorney for the county in which I was ticketed and made an argument for why I did not move over. The prosecutor’s office offered to reduce the charge to one which carried no points on my license and a minimal fine — case closed as far as I was concerned.
And you know the really funny thing? I can’t wait to go back to upstate New York again!