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What Should I Do if I Get a Traffic Ticket?

Though a driver should not argue with police over a traffic stop, they should explain any extenuating circumstances that led to their infraction.
Challenging a traffic ticket in court can be expensive.
A few minor traffic tickets may not have a detrimental effect on your insurance rates.
Police may issue traffic tickets to individuals who fail to stop for a red light.
Someone who has been pulled over by the police should be polite and cooperative, however they should note the circumstances that led to their ticket if they wish to challenge it in court.
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  • Written By: Michael Pollick
  • Edited By: Bronwyn Harris
  • Last Modified Date: 19 November 2014
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If you receive a traffic ticket following a moving violation, you may have to resign yourself to certain realities. The ticket will contain a specified court date and location, and you will have to come to some kind of resolution with the court by that time. This could mean waiving your right to a hearing and paying the established fine for your violation. You may also decide to work out a deal with the prosecutor's office and agree to attend traffic school. You could even hire an attorney and fight the ticket in court if you really believe the officer made an error in judgment.

The main problem with fighting a traffic ticket in court is the home court advantage. An officer's sworn testimony carries significant weight, and few judges are swayed by a defendant's plea to disregard it and believe his or her side of the story. You do have the right to fight a citation in court, but the only real advantage is a possible reduction in the severity of the offense and a more polite request to attend traffic school. Because there is a tuition fee attached to many traffic schools, it generally adds up to a reduced fine with no points added to your overall driving record.

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Some legal experts suggest that waiving your rights and paying the established fine may be the most expensive route to follow. Challenging the ticket in court can also be an expensive proposition as well unless there are criminal charges to consider. The best thing may be to contact the prosecutor's office and work out a plea deal before the court date. The conditions of this plea could include traffic school in exchange for a lower fine and fewer points on your driving record.

In the case of moving violations with no damage to vehicles, people or property, you may not be required to report a traffic ticket directly to your insurance company, but that doesn't mean they won't find out about it. Many states have pacts with other states to report traffic violations to a common database. An insurance company has the right to consult this database or others like it to determine any adjustments to a policy holder's insurance rates. You don't necessarily have to volunteer this information, but you can't deny its existence either. A few minor traffic tickets may not have a detrimental effect on your insurance rates, but more serious violations such as reckless driving or DUI can definitely raise your premiums or even put an end to your coverage.

If you only have a traffic ticket for a minor offense and agree to attend traffic school, there should be little damage done to your driving record or your insurance rating. Check your insurance policy carefully, however, to see if there is a specific protocol to follow if you do receive one. Even if you don't have to file a claim for any damages, you may want to come clean about the ticket before the insurance company discovers it on their own.

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Discuss this Article

anon936061
Post 10

I won a case for careless driving but the barrier was broken. The judge, crown and officer to let me off with no charges as I was free to go. Now the city is trying to get me to pay for the barrier that was broken but as I explained, there may have been a malfunction in the barrier. What can I do to avoid paying a large bill?

anon927140
Post 9

If you plead guilty or automatically pay a traffic ticket, you are admitting that you're guilty of the offence. Any traffic ticket on your driving record may significantly affect your insurance rates and you may also be accumulating demerit points which will lead to a license suspension. I got a local ticket place to fight my ticket and she cleared my points and won the trial.

anon262903
Post 8

I got a speeding ticket going 78 in a 65 zone. I paid the $135 ticket. A month later they send me a letter saying my license is getting suspended for 90 days, I have to take a road rage class, get my permit again and take a road test. Oh and pay $500. I was 17 at the time but my 18th birthday was the next day. If I had been 18 this wouldn't be even happening to me. This is my first offense.

anon128462
Post 6

My mother got a ticket the other day. She's not young, but this is her first traffic offense. She says she was driving at the normal speed limit, but at one point, she had to make a turn and the car slid. The speed limit was 25mph.

The officer caught up to her later and informed her that she was driving at 45 mph. We've done some research and discovered that this could mean up to four points. We have absolutely no clue what we should do. What is the best option?

anon128418
Post 5

my son received a ticket for driving with a suspended license with knowledge. He actually had no knowledge. the Police took his license. He went to the court and was instructed to go to the DMV office for his licence. The DMV refused and gave him and ID card instead. Told him he could not get his licence until after court.

The court adjourned his matter and told him he needs a valid licence to carry on his case. What should he do? get a lawyer or go on his own to court? any idea if the case will go on? he has no licence now. Is it legal for an officer to take your licence?

anon105896
Post 4

Okay, yesterday I received a ticket. I had my cruise set at 55 and it was a 50 zone.

The police office said he followed me for about 5-7 miles before pulling me over. He said I was weaving in and out of traffic, not using my turn signals and speeding. I thought he was pulling me over for a headlight out which I tried to get fixed last week but the shop did not have time to fix it and I was to come back this week.

My Mom was in the car and she concurred that I was not weaving in and out of traffic and we had just talked about the cops down the strip of road and she knew I had my cruise set at 55 because I did not want to go too far off the speed limit.

I was nice and did not argue with the officer. The strange thing is that he asked me the following questions: where had I been, where was I going, where did I work, how long there, did I have an emergency? The other strange thing is that he followed me about five miles more miles to Kohl's, and when Mom and I left, he pulled out and followed me about two miles to Publix. I pulled into a parking space and he drove by. I was in the process of calling my husband because I was freaked out.

This has caused my Mom great stress; not about the ticket but him following us around afterward. We're not sure if it was a fluke or there was something strange up. Question is, what I am required to answer and not? I am going to traffic school since this is the first ticket I have gotten in 20 years and it's not worth just paying and getting points.

pollick
Post 3

Under some circumstances, the age and relative inexperience of the driver could actually be a blessing in disguise when it comes to the legal process. Many judges are reluctant to enforce the maximum penalty for a young driver's first offense, especially if property damage is minimal and he or she was not under the influence of drugs or alcohol at the time. A professional attorney could act as an advocate for the young driver, but may not be strictly necessary for a first offense. If there were physical injuries or major property damage, however, you'd probably want to consider hiring an attorney to protect your own interests as the vehicle's owner. If you're comfortable with going to a defensive driving school or court-ordered driver safety courses, then you shouldn't need a lawyer for a minor traffic violation, especially at age 16. It is a common practice for drivers of all ages to waive their right to a trial or to plead guilty en masse in traffic court. The judge retains every right to issue the maximum fine allowed by law, but in many cases paying a modest fine and agreeing to attend driving school would be the norm.

anon47289
Post 2

the same thing happened to me. i'm sixteen. I'm going to the court date and plan on attending defensive driving school. Not sure if i should get a lawyer.

asears
Post 1

My 17 yr old daughter got a ticket-stating by entering an intersection while a traffic signal was emitting a steady red circular light for traffic in defendants direction of travel. Will this cost us points on insurance? Do we need to hire lawyer or ask for prayer for judgment. Help. Thanks

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