How to Handle those Pesky Traffic Tickets

There are a variety of rules violations that will result in the driver receiving a ticket, and they all come with varying penalty amounts depending on the offense. If you receive a ticket, it’s important to understand how to handle it and to realize the consequences that come with ignoring it or not paying it on time. Of course, nobody likes getting tickets but, if you do, there are some ways to take care of it, including contesting it in court. Fortunately, the other methods are quite simple and don't involve hiring a lawyer.

Common Ticket Penalties

Citations come with fines and are not unexpected when they are received. There are other consequences of some citations, though, depending on their severity. For instance, if you are pulled over for a DUI, you will likely have your license suspended for a period for a first offense, and subsequent offenses can include jail time and the permanent removal of a license.

Many moving violations also come along with points added to your driving record. These points take years to come off your record and not only do they put your privilege to drive at risk; they can have an adverse impact on your car insurance rates as well. Among other considerations, insurance companies calculate premiums based on the number of points on your record. Unless paying higher premiums is something you are excited to do, be careful to avoid adding points to that record.

Paying off Tickets

In most states you will lose your license if you don’t take care of traffic tickets, that’s why it’s so important that you pay them off by the date the court gives you. After receiving a ticket, it will be your responsibility to determine how the court wants you to take care of it. Usually, this will require a trip to the courthouse to get these instructions, especially if you just intend to pay the fine and have done.

Fighting a Ticket

If you think you have received it unjustly, you may be better off fighting a traffic ticket than paying it. If that’s the case, mark your ticket submission as not guilty and submit it to the court and arrange a court date. After court, depending on what conclusion the judge comes to, you’ll face the full fine, a reduced one or, if your defense is satisfactory, no fine at all. In some cases, a judge will give the offender the option of community service or to take a defensive driving class instead of paying the fine.

About That Defensive Driving Option...

A driver with a ticket can choose to skip the court date and request the defensive driving/traffic school option in advance. Nearly every state offers this option to drivers. There is a reduced fine to be paid to the court, and then, after the course is completed, the ticket is dismissed and will not appear on the driver's record. 

While these courses are still offered in traditional classrooms, often the most convenient option is to take it online. As an added bonus many insurance companies offer discounts to drivers who have taken one of these courses. It could be that you save enough on your insurance that you will actually make money by getting a ticket! This makes completing traffic school or a defensive driving course a win-win-win.

Tickets can be quite stressful to receive, and nobody likes the idea of paying a fine. While writing a check to the court is a hard thing to do, the process of getting it done is easy. Make sure to follow the instructions given by the court as to the payment amount and due date. On the other hand, you should really consider the defensive driving route. Saving money, dismissing tickets and no driving record points all seem like a pretty good idea now, don't they?