No matter if you’ve been driving for six months or 60 years, getting tickets is a fact of life. Now you’ve found yourself with one. Whether this is your first citation or you’ve had a few, what you do next is what matters.
After receiving an Indiana traffic ticket, you are faced with some choices. Do you just pay it and put it behind you? Do you fight it? Do you hire an attorney? Do you “throw yourself on the mercy of the court” and hope they can help? Or, do you just ignore it and hope it goes away? Once you know your options step by step, you can pick the one that works best for you.
Let’s take a look at how you might attack the problem of getting a ticket. Of course, you should start by weighing your options but, after that, what’s next?
- Hire an attorney?
- Talk to the court?
- Take a driver safety course?
(I’m going to save you a little suspense here. That last step, the “safety course” one? That one is almost always your best choice, but who knows? One of the others might work just as well.)
You Got a Ticket. Now What?
Drivers react differently to getting tickets. Some get angry or indignant. Some are gracious, accepting the citation as an invitation to learn better for next time. Others view the infraction karmic-ly, figuring that even if they didn’t deserve the ticket this time, they probably got away with it (or worse) a dozen times in the past.
It’s not important if you experienced one of these reactions or something completely different. What is important is what you choose to do next. All you know is that you want to deal with this inconvenience with as little effort and expense as possible.
You could choose the zero effort and expense route and do nothing. I tried that once. It did not go well.
You could just pay the darn thing and chalk the fine up to hard-earned experience. This option is fairly low on the effort scale but fairly high on the expense side. And it won’t just be expensive now; it’ll be expensive later when your insurance renews.
You may feel that your ticket represented an attack on your driving superiority, and now you’re out for justice. What will it take to beat your ticket with an attorney?
Hire a Lawyer and Fight, Fight, Fight
Maybe you’ve seen billboards with pictures of smiling (or sometimes scowling) attorneys promising to join in your traffic-related crusade. Is this your best answer in terms of time and expense?
The internet is crawling with attorneys ready to go to war for you over your traffic ticket. Don’t believe me? Google “fight ticket with Indiana attorney” and see how many results you get.
Most of these sites will boast of a 90%+ success rate, and many will make promises like
“Full refund if we are unable to keep the ticket off your record!”
Some of these will claim they’ll pay for your ticket as well.
These sites will also offer statistics encouraging you to employ them by implying you’d be stupid not to.
“One in four tickets is issued in error, yet only 5% of drivers contest their traffic tickets.”
Do you want to be in the 95% of suckers who don’t?
If you’re the type who likes to drive fast all the time, this may be an option. Many law firms have monthly memberships that will allow you to have…
“Unlimited back-and-forth with traffic lawyers. Chat with certified lawyers until you’re satisfied. About any legal issue—from big to small, and everything in between.”
The fight-it-with-a-lawyer option works like this:
- Spend time researching traffic lawyers and hire one. Once you’ve paid the required fees, the attorney will:
- Request a contested hearing
- Request discovery for your case
- Represent you in court
- Negotiate with the prosecutor to have your charges dropped or reduced
Factoring in the time spent shopping for a lawyer, this option is fairly moderate on the effort scale. But, depending on what the firm charges, it may remain pretty high on the expense chart. At least your insurance won’t go up if the attorney manages to keep the ticket off your record.
As for an Indiana Driver Safety Course…
If you are a licensed driver in Indiana, you may take a defensive driving course for any of the following reasons:
- To satisfy a court or Bureau of Motor Vehicles order to attend traffic school
- To avoid violation points from being added to a driving record
- To remove four existing points from a driving record
An Indiana defensive driving course can be completed in one of three ways:
- Driver improvement taught in a traditional classroom setting
- With an at-home DVD study course
NOTE: If you are ordered by an Indiana court to take a defensive driving course, they may restrict you only to take it in a classroom. Otherwise, the choice is yours, depending on your preferred learning style and schedule demands. These days, the online version is often the most popular selection.
No matter the format, your course must be approved by the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles.
Taking Your Indiana Defensive Driving Course
All Indiana driver safety courses are four hours in length and follow the same basic curriculum. Your course will touch on topics such as:
- Indiana traffic law
- Safe driving techniques
- How to avoid an accident
- How to handle an emergency
- How to share the road safely with others
At the end of the course, you will be required to pass a test over the presented material to be awarded a completion certificate. This certificate of completion can then be submitted to your court, keeping the conviction and associated points off of your driving record.
Indiana drivers who complete defensive driving may be eligible for one of the following benefits:
- Traffic ticket dismissal
- Fulfillment of a court order
- The possibility of lower insurance premiums
You can find defensive driving courses taught both live in classrooms and online. Online is often the more convenient option because it can be worked on wherever and whenever the student has the time.
Sometimes Taking Defensive Driving Isn’t Your Decision
The state of Indiana may require you to take a defensive driving course in either of the two following circumstances:
- If you have received two or more traffic citations within a 12 month period
- If you are under 21 years of age and have had any combination of two citations and/or accidents within a 12 month period
If either of these conditions applies to you, you will be given 90 days in which to complete the course. If you have not completed a driver safety program in the previous three years, you will also be eligible for a four-point reduction on your driving record, which might make getting that ticket a pretty great thing.
Why are Indiana Driving Record Points Such a Big Deal?
Two reasons, really. One, driving record points are one of the biggest factors used when the insurance company calculates your premiums. Two, with too many points on a driving record, an Indiana driver faces the risk of having their license suspended.
Ticket or no, any Indiana driver can take a driver safety course. The BMV will apply a 4 point credit to an Indiana Official Driver Record for successful completion of a BMV-approved course. The credit may only be applied once every three years.
What’s more, most major insurance companies offer some type of “safe driver discount” for policyholders who voluntarily complete a driver safety course, especially if it results in a reduction of driving record points. Insurance companies understand that better-educated drivers make safer drivers and that safer drivers have fewer accidents. With fewer claims to pay, the companies save money and will pass those savings back to you.
Check with your insurance company to see if this is an option for you. If you’re curious how much the savings might be worth, this article dives a little into the actual math.
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