The New Hampshire Guide to Dealing with Traffic Tickets

by Jim Thompson | Last Updated: January 11, 2021

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 a New Hampshire 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?

(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.

I Ignored a Ticket and it Was Fine, Until it Got Awkward (and Expensive)

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 New Hampshire 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:

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.

But Your Honor, You Have to Understand…

You could skip hiring an attorney and head to the courthouse yourself and request a mitigation hearing or a contested hearing.

A mitigation hearing is one where you request leniency because the fine represents an excessive financial burden. If you are successful, the court may reduce your fine, put you on a monthly payment plan, or allow you to work off your debt with community service.

A contested hearing is one you attend to try getting the conviction overturned.

Good luck. Hope you win.

(On the other hand, if you have a minute, you could fall down this rabbit hole to find the origins of what might be a remarkably apt quote in this situation).

As for a New Hampshire Driver Safety Course…

If you have received a citation for a minor traffic violation, you may be able to have the ticket dismissed by completing a defensive driving course.  The ability to do so is court specific.  Consult the court with jurisdiction over your ticket to see if this may be an option for you.

If the court does grant permission, you will be instructed as to how the process works.  These instructions will include the course type that will be accepted when the course must be completed and if there are any additional fees or documents required to complete the process.

Ticket dismissal courses are available both in classrooms and online.  If the court allows, you may choose either option. The choice of which course type to take generally comes down to the student’s preferred learning style and schedule availability.  For those with hectic schedules, the online option is usually preferable as you can start and stop as often as you need to fit the course into your daily routine.

If I Can’t Dismiss the Ticket, What’s the Point?

Actually, points is the point.

Traffic violation convictions result in the addition of points to a driver’s record. Accumulate enough points on your record, and your license will be suspended.

If you have accumulated 3 points or more, you’ll be allowed to complete a safe driver course to earn a credit against those points.  The violation will still appear on your record, but these points will not be added to the total that would count toward a potential license suspension.

If a driver’s point total is approaching suspension level, completion of a safe driver course may be ordered by a New Hampshire court. These courses must be attended in person. To find a class near you, consult the NH DMV website’s list of approved providers.

The addition of points is negative for two reasons. First, the number of points on your record will be used to determine how much you pay for auto insurance. Second,

If you are granted permission to take a driver improvement course to reduce points, you’ll be instructed when the course must be completed and if any additional documentation or fees will be required to complete the process.

By the way—Another course, the Driver Attitude Program, may be required by a district court or because of license revocation due to multiple violations.

A Better Benefit of Reducing Points

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.

Can Defensive Driving Lower Insurance?

A Completely Different Kind of Driver Safety Course

New Hampshire has taken some steps to deter intoxicated drivers and protect the innocent they share the road with.

Administered by the New Hampshire Department of Health and Human Services, there are four courses that the court may order:

A Final Word

Ticket dismissal is not the only reason to take defensive driving. Find out how taking a course can keep you safer and put money in your pocket.

What’s Good about Driver Safety Classes?

More Questions? We Have More Answers!

If this is your first time taking a New Hampshire defensive driving course, or it’s been a minute since your last one, here is some more useful information just in case.