This is a common question. It seems easy enough, right? All I have to do is go to court and wait my turn and I'll get my ticket handled. Why shouldn't I just pay the ticket? It's only 15 over and you're wanting to charge me double what the ticket costs? OK, I'll try to help you weigh the pros and cons.
Usually traffic tickets in Asheville are handled first in Administrative Court. This means there is no calendar call, so your ticket in Asheville will direct you to "drop in" between a given time frame, either AM or PM. The reason for this is because the sheer volume of tickets couldn't be managed by the court facility if everyone were to show at once. That should be your first clue!
So this gets us to the first "con", which is plan at least half your day off if you want to handle the ticket yourself. Now, if you have a job you probably do not want to miss work when you consider the cost of the time off, and the fact that attorney's fees for handling traffic matters aren't that much. Keep in mind you'll need to provision time for finding a paid parking space, waiting in line to get through metal detectors, and ultimately waiting in line for your turn to pull your file and talk to the DA. If you need to get in front of a judge, you'll additionally be corralled into the court room to wait your turn to be called to see the judge. Unless you're lucky enough to get a dismissal from the DA (rare), you'll be waiting in line again to pay the Clerk's cashier. Not to mention, most people aren't desensitized to district court like I am, and you'll likely find the overall experience less than enjoyable. You might even prefer to be at work!
The second "con" is you won't be heard on the ticket. Let me spare you a lot of trouble, no one at the court house during admin court listens to your defense for why you were speeding, etc. If you intend to challenge your ticket at trial, you'll be re-scheduled to a trial court date in district court. I have other blogs that discuss challenging tickets at trial, and how you can almost be guaranteed you'll lose without an attorney. The fact of the matter is, you're highly likely to lose a speeding or traffic ticket trial with an attorney, so take this into consideration and know that the path of least resistance is usually best in traffic ticket matters. So why do DA's even negotiate tickets if they can't be won? Because we defense attorneys are an ornery bunch, and we'll load the calendar with trials even if they are hard to beat when negotiations dry up. That makes it impossible for the state to keep up with all the trials. Plea bargaining is necessary for judicial efficiency.
The most important "con" is that you probably aren't sure which solution is best for your ticket. Furthermore, you probably aren't even aware of some solutions that may exist. You won't get any advice from the DAs because it violates their legal/ethical obligations, and you'll be left guessing what is going to happen to your license and inusrance. Remember, you may be able to pay the costs and fines for a fraction of an attorney's cost, and all you have to do is show up. But later on, the cost may come back and bite you! A lot of what you are paying for is knowledge, and local expertise in tailoring a solution to your ticket. It may be simple, and it may be complex. Sometimes a simple reduction of a ticket leads to a DMV suspension. For example, the client didn't realize the 70 in a 55 they had reduced 6 months ago is counted with the current 70 in a 55 as two over 55mph tickets within a year. NC DMV will suspend a license on these grounds! There are dozens of other DMV rules that will suspend a NC license for scenarios that seem just as benign as that one.
The reality is, you can go deal on your own tickets all you want. You have a right to represent yourself, and you'll likely save a little money upfront. But if you don't choose the best solution, the future costs can be severe. Also, if you hire an attorney, be certain your attorney focuses a significant portion of their practice to traffic related issues. For example, I've had judges ask me questions about my approach to ticket solutions, because even they were unaware that the particular solution in question would save a license. Trust me, save your valuable time, your money, and your license in many cases, by calling an experienced local traffic attorney to handle your traffic ticket issues.