Perhaps you received a traffic violation because you didn’t come to a complete stop at a stop sign or a speeding ticket because you were driving too fast. Whatever the reason, many desire to contest the citation, guilty or not. Traffic tickets are nothing to covet as they carry with them the possibility of expensive and extensive penalties. These penalties may include:
- Fines, along with other costs such as increased auto insurance rates
- Points added to your driving record
- Possible license suspension – depending on the violation or how many points exist on your driving record already
With these potential consequences, it may be profitable to weigh the pros and cons of fighting your traffic ticket.
The Pros of Contesting a Traffic Ticket
Possible benefits of challenging a traffic ticket include:
- The potential of having all charges removed. This means no fines to pay and, depending on your state’s traffic laws, no points added to your driving record.
- A successful appeal will prevent increases in your auto insurance premiums. Auto insurance providers watch on driving records closely and a change in points will likely mean changes in rates. The more serious the violation – reckless driving, DUI, speeding tickets – the bigger the increase.
- There is the possibility of a plea bargain agreement being reached before going to court, resulting in reduced charges.
- If your driving record reflects enough prior violations, a dismissal will allow you to maintain your driving privileges. Ticket dismissal will keep you behind the wheel and free of the inconvenience of public transportation and the embarrassment of asking friends and family for rides.
- Depending on your line of your work, having charges dropped could save your job. This is particularly true with drivers of commercial vehicles.
- Dismissal of your ticket also means no mandatory enrollment in a court-approved traffic school, saving you time and tuition costs.
The Cons of Contesting a Traffic Ticket
Possible costs and inconveniences of challenging a traffic ticket include:
- Major time drain. Contesting a ticket requires at least two weekday court visits. Further, if you decide to represent yourself, additional time will be needed to prepare yourself by accumulating evidence, and contacting witnesses to testify in your defense.
- If you hire an attorney to represent you, be advised: these guys don’t work cheap. If the trial becomes lengthy or the nature of the case is complicated, this could be an extremely costly option.
- There are no guarantees of dismissal. Even after presenting your case, the judge could still rule against you. This means not only will you still face all penalties associated with the traffic citation (fines, points, possible car insurance rate increase…), but you will also be saddled with court and legal fees.
Before deciding to contest your ticket, weigh these possible options and outcomes carefully. If you are certain beyond a shadow of a doubt that you received the ticket in error and are confident you can prove this fact in court, by all means, fight your ticket. On the other hand, if you have misgivings about your ability to do so, you may be better served in just paying the fine and committing to driving more safely in the future.