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Can a lawyer beat your traffic ticket?

A certain breed of lawyer is known for chasing police cruisers and ambulances to car crash scenes, intending to represent the victims and score wins in a potentially profitable personal injury cases.

The same entrepreneurial spirit thrives at the opposite end of the legal big-money spectrum: traffic tickets. But in this growing market, it's the speeders and drunk drivers who are chasing the lawyers to represent them.

Ads for traffic lawyers seem to pop up daily on radio stations, highway billboards and the Internet. And if you're unfortunate enough to get ticketed, you might well see one to three dozen solicitations show up in your mailbox within the next week to 10 days.

The firms have names such as Remove Tickets (Dallas), The Ticket Clinic (Miami) and Traffic Lawyer (New York).

The ticket specialists

These traffic ticket lawyers often devote their entire practice to traffic tickets, sometimes handling hundreds per day. Some even offer a money-back guarantee if they fail to get your fine reduced or keep the ticket off your record.

"We take whomever we want, and it's just built into the system that if there are errors on the ticket, it gets dismissed," says Mitchell Frank, who has been a traffic ticket attorney in Plantation, Florida, for more than a decade. "If there are no mistakes, then it's not going to be dismissed, but they still might get out of the points and the school and get a reduced fine, like a reward for a good record."

Google Glass ticket © Credit: Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

Lenny Ignelzi/Associated Press

But do traffic lawyers deliver the goods?

"Can they get the tickets dismissed? Yes, because they know the technicalities," says Brenda Di Ioia, chief traffic magistrate for Broward County Courts in Fort Lauderdale, Florida.

"They also know which ones they can't get dismissed," she adds. "When the ticket is perfect, nobody is going to be able to do anything for you, so they plea (bargain) those. The attorneys are great if you don't have time to go to court or if your driving record isn't great."

So how do they do it? How can they afford to do it?

We'll ask a couple of them. But first, the realities of traffic court.

The ticket trap

You probably aren't aware of it, but when you receive a moving violation, you enter the complex machinery of your local municipal or county traffic court, where negotiation is more the rule than the exception.

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