Punishment for Traffic Tickets

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Punishment for Traffic Tickets

The consequences of not contesting or pleading guilty to a traffic ticket can be serious. You can face stiff fines, traffic school, higher insurance premiums, and possibly suspension of your drivers license.

Traffic Ticket Fines

A routine ticket for speeding, failure to yield, or failure to stop at a stop sign will cost you between $75 and $400, depending on your state law and, sometimes, your driving record. Some states can base the fine, at least in part, on whether you have other recent violations. Otherwise, states normally have standard fines for particular violations based on the type of offense. In speeding cases, the fine can be based on how much you exceeded the posted speed limit.

While paying the fine may be the easiest route for you to take, it can have lasting negative consequences to you since the violation will appear on your driving record, normally for about three years. The big exception to this rule is if you pay the fine in conjunction with going to traffic school. Completion of traffic school normally means the ticket will not appear on your record. 

Insurance Rates

Depending on your state law and your insurance company's policies, your auto insurance rates may increase if you receive one ordinary moving violation over three to five years. Unfortunately, because insurance companies follow different rules when it comes to raising the rates of policyholders who pay fines or are found guilty of a traffic violation, it's not always easy to know whether it makes sense to fight a ticket. Before you can make an informed choice as to whether to pay, go to traffic school, or fight it out in traffic court, you should find out whether having the ticket on your record will result in your insurance rates being increased. 

License Suspension

You normally won't lose your license for a couple of moving violations. However, if you have had at least three previous convictions for moving violations in the past three to five years, you could lose your license. If you are charged with drunk, reckless, or hit-and-run driving, and have several previous convictions for moving violations, you are likely to have your license suspended.

Most states handle license suspension on a point system. Three or more points in a short period means your license could be suspended. Obviously, if you face losing your license, your incentive to fight a ticket goes up no matter what your chances of winning. 

Traffic School

Almost every state allows a person ticketed for some types of moving violations to attend a 6-to-8 hour course in traffic safety in exchange for having the ticket officially wiped from their record. Policies and procedures on how and when you can attend traffic school vary from state to state, and often from county to county. Additionally, what attending traffic school does to your ticket also differs by area. For example, in some states, courts dismiss your case when proof is received that you've completed traffic school. In other states, courts require you to pay your fine with the understanding that the conviction will not be placed on your record if you complete traffic school by a prearranged deadline.

Should I Consult An Attorney About My Traffic Ticket?

If you received a ticket, you may need an attorney. The consequences of receiving a ticket can be serious, especially if you have received multiple tickets within a short time. An attorney can explain the law and your rights. Additionally, an attorney can help you prepare a defense so that you can avoid the potentially costly consequences of traffic tickets.

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Last Modified: 01-22-2014 02:59 PM PST

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