Typically, a traffic ticket is a minor offense that can turn serious in some circumstances. Penalties may include: fines, insurance rate hikes, driver’s license point penalties and suspension, and traffic school.
Traffic ticket fines have a wide monetary range and are dependent on the offense and the laws of each state. For instance, the maximum fine in Georgia for a first-time speeding ticket is $1000, whereas a first time speeding offender in Oregon will pay no more than $600. In many states, fines may be doubled if the driver was in a school zone. Repeat offenders are likely to face stiffer penalties, which may include jail time in circumstances with aggravating factors, or when a driver is a repeat offender.
Many people opt for the easy option of paying the fine, however, doing so could leave the violation on a person’s driving record for roughly three years. To get around this lasting penalty, going to traffic school in addition to paying the fine will usually mean the violation will not appear on your driving record.
It is possible that a traffic ticket will raise your car insurance premiums. Insurance companies track your driving history through a point system that most states use, and determine your liability risk through your past driving indiscretions. Insurance companies vary in terms of how they determine rates for people who pay fines or are found guilty of traffic violations. Before you pay your fine, attend traffic school, or contest the violation in court, find out whether a traffic violation on your record will increase your insurance premiums.
Generally, your license will not be suspended for a couple of traffic violations. If you have had three or more convictions in the last three to five years, it is possible for your license to be suspended. If you are charged with reckless driving, driving under the influence, or hit and run driving, and also have prior convictions, it is highly likely that you will lose your license or a period of time. If you are facing a license suspension, it is a good idea to consult an attorney.
Most states offer drivers a six to eight hour traffic safety course in exchange for having the violation removed from their driving record. Jurisdictions vary on how and when you can attend traffic school, so be sure you know the policies and procedures before enrolling. Some states will dismiss your case with proof of completion, while others require a fine payment up front, and a deadline to complete the course.
If you have been issued a traffic citation, you may wish to consult a traffic ticket lawyer, especially if you have any prior convictions. A driver’s license suspension is serious and can affect many facets of your life. An experienced attorney will be able to advise you of your best options, as well as prepare a defense should you decide to contest the ticket in court.