This article is written by Devina Poonia from Ansal University, Gurugram. This article aims to overview the legal course of action and role-play of traffic lawyers around the globe in implementing the traffic laws and protection of the client.
Across the globe, nations face the problem of “traffic”, this word means heavy congestion on roads caused due to slow mobility of vehicles and increased queuing of vehicles. Traffic congestion is not only a problem of one country but is faced all over the globe. In a survey conducted in the 1950s, the results showed that congestion of traffic on urban roads is becoming increasingly problematic. Traffic has become a leading issue which becomes difficult to tackle as the population increases day by day and the requirement of private cars and bikes increases which also, in turn, increases the level of air pollution, and hence air quality index suffers.
A traffic lawyer specializes in the domain of traffic laws which deals with the penalties, fines, and offences relating to traffic and understands the implications and legal jargon of the law in force. Once in the lifetime of a person he or she gets a ticket or “challan”- a common word used in India for the fine of overspeeding, rash driving, violations of traffic rules involving not wearing a helmet or a seatbelt. If a person is charged with a hefty amount due to violation of the said rules it increases the insurance rates, affects the driving record and in some cases, the valid driver license gets seized.
Traffic lawyers are well in process with the ever-changing laws in a country, for say a job of a person requires driving and is in the facility of transportation department or warehousing where the job task is to drive around the state, the said person cannot risk his license getting seized by the authorities in charge. A well-experienced lawyer understands the consequences of the legal battle and can guide the offender through the process of the legal trial.
WHO report on road accidents
The World Health Organisation (WHO) reported 1.25 million deaths in the year 2013 due to road traffic accidents and it reached 1.35 million in the year 2016, a target by the sustainable development goal (SDG) was 3.6 which aimed for a 50 per cent reduction in the number of road traffic deaths in 2020. The report is summarised as follows:
- Children and young adults in the age group 5-29 are more prone to traffic death and injuries.
- Low-income countries have shown no progress in reducing the number of traffic deaths since 2013.
- 22 countries representing 1 billion people amended their laws relating to traffic.
- 46 countries representing 3 billion people have set the limits for speeding on roads.
- 45 countries representing 2.3 billion people have amended drink-driving laws.
- Traffic deaths are more common among pedestrians, cyclists, and motorcyclists.
It was reported that adopting WHO guidelines into their regime have benefitted many countries who had the resources and personnel to implement these into the laws regarding traffic which resulted in a slight low in the number of drink-drivers, head injuries in accidents, death of common pedestrians. The role of traffic lawyers seems to decrease in high-level income group countries where stricter punishments were enforced and the law implemented kept a balance between the countries and the reduction of such crimes.
Role of a traffic lawyer
Traffic lawyers are to be contacted in a case where the offence is of serious gravity and involves more than the small amount of fine or penalty imposed. However, some minor offence could be under unforeseen circumstances that cannot be handled by an individual and where the role of a traffic lawyer is vital to the facts of the case and hiring an attorney becomes important. There are several kinds of duties and responsibilities that a lawyer ensures in case of violation of traffic laws which are as follows:
- Bailing of traffic offenders: Whenever a person is held guilty of the traffic laws and gets a ticket for the violation of the law it may in some cases attract the police officials to put the guilty behind bars, in this case, the traffic lawyer comes into play where the offender is bailed out after negotiating with the officials. This requires skill that only a lawyer possesses and uses his legal capabilities to the maximum.
- Representation of the offender in court: If a person is caught breaking the norms of the traffic laws then that person is liable to appear in court and clear himself of all the charges against him. This cannot be handled alone by an individual who is unaware of the laws and needs a lawyer to present and argue his facts before the court to release him of the charges where the collection of necessary evidence becomes important.
- Negotiation: If a violator is charged with a hefty amount or penalty for not following the law, a traffic lawyer can negotiate with the authorities for releasing or paying the penalty in small amounts.
- Saves money: Often affording or hiring a lawyer can put a person in deep pockets as lawyers charge a fee on an hourly basis. But that is not the case with traffic lawyers as it involves a petty dispute and many traffic lawyers in developed countries have a policy of money-back guarantee. If a case is in favour of the violator he owes money to the lawyer and vice-versa.
Traffic lawyers in India
Traffic lawyers are piled up with the number of cases regarding ticketing, negligent drivers and so on as India fails to provide the medium and infrastructural facilities for the smooth functioning of traffic.
India is one such country where the problem of traffic seems to increase day by day resulting in severe damage to the roads, an increase in road accidents, and with the advent of stricter punishments and stringent measures, the perpetrators in broad daylight violate the laws and find a way out. Committing such offences not only results in road rage but also raises the question whether the authorities in charge are able to successfully implement traffic laws.
A huge challenge to the Indian government which paid around 20,000-30,000 crores for the building and construction of networking of roads as the institution of private vehicles seemed to increase bringing in the everyday struggle of dodging traffic and rash drivers was that it resulted in an increase in pollution levels leading to respiratory problems causing stress in the daily commuters.
Some important traffic laws
- Under Section 185 of the Motor Vehicles Act 1988, if individual blood contains 30mg of alcohol while driving he will be punished up to 6 months and a fine of rupees 15,000.
- Under Section 129 of the Motor Vehicles Act, a person wearing a helmet will be punishable under this section and a maximum of 2 people can ride on a two-wheeler.
- Imprisonment for rash driving up to 1 month and a penalty of rupees 500.
- If a vehicle is uninsured, imprisonment up to 3 months with a fine of rupees 2000.
- If a driver despite being debarred from driving a vehicle will be imposed with the penalty of rupees 10,000 from the previous amount of 500.
- Travelling on a bus without a ticket will now impose a penalty of rupees 500.
Not only the citizens but advocates who have a badge on their car use to exempt the official capacity of the police even if they violated the traffic rules. In the turn of events a recent judgment passed by the Supreme Court, it was held that a badge by the Bar Council of India is no bar for an excuse to exempt the law and for that matter any political for personal gains out of the police officials. Although the police have a full right to impound a vehicle, confiscate the driver’s license but on reasonable grounds.
But in the case where if a person is held by the traffic officer on immoral grounds asks for a bribe which is illegal then a person can contact a lawyer along with that the officer-in-charge name and one can also demand his identity card for proof and evidence which can be submitted to the lawyer and his task would be to evaluate the evidence and produce it before the court.
Many traffic challan cases turn into criminal offences where the violator uses his power immorally and challenges the penalties by the traffic officer in various petitions. Traffic lawyers should ensure that frivolous petitions are not filed in the court as it may amount to payment of hefty fees and also extends the pending litigation matter. It not only wastes the time of the concerned jury but also litigation is a tedious task where lawyers also are condemned and let his client take over the process and file frivolous petitions where the matter can be resolved easily. It becomes the duty of the lawyer to protect the integrity of the court and influence the client to solve the dispute by not taking recourse to litigation if a plea is filed not on the moral grounds of the court.
Traffic lawyer as a career option
In a country like the USA which is a hub for the traffic specifically in cities like California, New York, and Texas would require a traffic lawyer who has cleared the entrance exam called LSAT (Law School Admission Test), gets a score of 180 and is qualified, has graduated with a Juris Doctor degree in the bachelor of laws and has enrolled and cleared the Bar exam of either of the states of California or Texas and others, targeting areas where there is a high demand of lawyers dealing with the violators of the traffic norms. Internships play a vital role in the career of a law graduate and it’s important to secure internships that best suit the line of a chosen field of law, developing oral and written skills, drafting of petitions and communicating the facts of the case to the judge by participating in various moot court activities.
One can become a traffic lawyer and a successful one at that if he grasps the subject and laws of the particular field, excels in that and possesses all the relatable knowledge related to the subject. This involves setting up of websites that practically advise clients online if a dispute arises, giving consultation and informing to the party whether the case can be taken up in a court or not.
If a person is looking to be a professional lawyer in traffic laws in India, he/she has to clear entrance tests like LSAT, CLAT ( Common Admission Law Test) or other tests of private institutions to get into law school approved by the Bar Council Of India, focus on internships which involve litigation, secure positions for working under the assistance of an advocate, upon graduating start building career towards litigation and clarity on the subjects like drafting and oral pleading. Being well versed with the field of law that has been chosen by the graduate is vital in the professional advancement of a career.
Traffic laws are designed to protect the citizens of a country by practising safe driving and being aware of the road by following and keeping in mind the limitations on the speed limit, cautious driving and being in a mental state that is ready to make the drive which not only protects an individual but also bystanders. Road safety is of utmost importance as it results in damage to property and also loss of human life. Various research studies conducted by researchers show that traffic amounts to stress, annoyance, and irritation. It is yet advisable for the authorities to implement and regulate the laws in force and the flow of traffic. Many individuals have started relying on public transport which is flexible, less time-consuming, no hassle of daily commuting through a private vehicle as it avoids traffic.
Traffic lawyers play a big role in implementing these laws as well where they can also file a complaint to the local authorities about the violation or any unjust behaviour of any official towards an individual. Their job is to not only favour the perpetrator but also cater to the needs of the client if the charges against him/her are false and officials impose a fine just to gain a monetary advantage.
The officials, lawyers, and the government must synchronize their reforms and work together in harmony to maintain the law and order in society by achieving traffic safety goals.
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