As we’ve talked about before, getting pulled over is almost a rite of passage for drivers. It inevitably happens to everyone. If you read our earlier blog post, maybe you were able to talk your way out of getting a ticket. Or, you may have caught the wrong officer on the wrong day. Now you have to figure out what to do after you get a traffic citation.
To start, you have two options once you get a ticket for minor traffic violations. You can either pay the fine or you can fight the ticket in traffic court. We’ll outline both options below, so keep reading!
If You’re Paying the Fine
Your first option is to simply pay the fine. This is your best option if you admitted to the officer that you knew they pulled you over because you were speeding or committing some other offense. If you don’t want to bother with court appearances and aren’t worried about the points on your driving record, this option probably sounds like the easiest and most convenient option.
How to pay the fine depends on the state, county, and city you were in at the time you were issued the citation. Typically, there will be instructions on your ticket for how to submit your payment. In most states, you can pay instantly online. In some cases, you may have to pay in person. Check with your local DMV to see what your options are.
Paying the fine could potentially cause your insurance rates to go up. On average, it’ll cost you more for about three years. But, you can always check if the court will allow you to take traffic school. In most states that allow you to take a traffic class. This will remove the points on your driving record and could keep your insurance rates from increasing. Make sure to check if this is an option in your area and for your particular offense.
If You’re Contesting the Citation
If you feel that the officer who pulled you over was wrong in their citation, or if you want to plea to get a lesser citation on your record, contesting the ticket in court is the option for you. In most cases, you may even be able to defend yourself. On the other hand, for more serious violations it may be in your best interest to hire a lawyer to plead your case for you.
How you go about contesting your case will vary based on what state you were in when you were issued the ticket. Your ticket should have a hearing date and location printed on it. Be sure to show up at your designated time.
One key piece of advice: if you choose to fight your ticket, ask to see the paperwork from the officer when they issued you the ticket. Under the law, you’re allowed to see any evidence that is going to be used against you in court. You may only be able to see this shortly before the trial, and only for a brief moment, so it’s wise to do your homework about what exactly you’re looking for in this paperwork.
As we mentioned in our previous post about traffic stops, during your court appearances, it’s in your best interest to be polite and courteous to the officer and the judge while you’re in court. It could even help your case if you make an effort to remain calm and level-headed.
Every state has different laws and regulations about appearances in traffic court, so be sure to check with your state’s DMV before you choose this solution to your traffic citation.
Do you have any other tips for people trying to decide whether to pay or fight a traffic citation? Let us know on Facebook!