Should I Just Pay My Traffic Ticket or Contest it?
Deciding whether or not to fight a traffic ticket or simply pay it is no small matter.
After all, there are consequences for being issued a traffic ticket beyond simply paying a hefty fine.
Much like a late payment on a credit card hurting your credit score, a traffic ticket is reported to your insurance company resulting in surcharges of up to 30% for three years.
However, contesting the ticket can also result in higher fees than the initial fine, along with other consequences.
When asking yourself, “Should I just pay my traffic ticket or contest it?” it’s important to be fully informed.
Continue reading to find out if it is worth contesting your ticket or not.
Before Paying Your Traffic Ticket
When you’re issued a traffic ticket, the officer will briefly explain how to go pay the ticket or contest the ticket to include how long to wait before paying.
There is often a required waiting time before you can pay the ticket, this allows the ticket to be entered into the database.
If you attempt to call the court clerk or go online to early you likely will not be able to make a payment.
This will allow time for you to explore your options.
Once you’ve paid your ticket, you’ve essentially admitted guilt to the traffic infraction and will have little option but to accept the consequences of such.
Contesting your ticket does not mean you’ll have to go to court. There are varying different scenarios that can happen where you won’t need to appear in court.
1. Traffic School
Often times jurisdictions will offer traffic school as an alternative option to paying a traffic ticket.
Be sure to research the laws in your area, if traffic school is an option try requesting it from the district attorney or judge.
2. Reschedule Court Your Date
One option is to keep rescheduling your court date in hopes the Police Officer who issued the citation will not show.
If you’re required to appear in court before a judge when requesting a ticket, the Police Officer who issued the citation will be required to appear as well.
If for some reason, the officer does not appear in court, this will typically ensure you win and will likely not have to pay any fines or court fees.
3. Requesting a Lesser Plea
If it is your first offense in that jurisdiction, it’s possible to approach the district attorney and request a lesser plea.
If the court allows plea bargaining it could be beneficial to show them that you are serious about fighting the ticket.
This can provide you leverage, allowing some flexibility from the court. Court often have hundreds of traffic cases in a day. The opportunity to have you pay a fine and move on is often enticing to them.
You could potentially get a ticket fine reduced drastically and the infraction changed to a violation which won’t appear on your insurance.
Contesting the Ticket
If you do choose to fight the ticket (“I don’t want to pay my traffic ticket!”) and are required to appear in court there are a few defenses to be aware of to better your chances of winning.
1. Radar Guns
Radar guns should be calibrated at the beginning of each officer’s shift and must be calibrated every 30 to 60 days.
Often times this does not take place due to funding or complacency by the officer or department.
When appearing in court ask for documentation that shows the radar gun has been properly calibrated.
Failure on the officer’s part to produce such documentation has a likely chance of getting the ticket thrown out entirely.
2. Errors on the Ticket
Minor errors on a ticket won’t get you anywhere.
For example; the ticket states your car is black when it is Dark Blue or a misspelling of your name.
However, major errors on a ticket could get it thrown out.
Errors such as the officer put down the wrong location of where the offense actually took place or cited the wrong law which you are supposed to have broken.
Errors such as these could make the officer look bad and result in the ticket being dismissed.
Meaning you pay nothing.
3. Mistakes of Fact
Mistakes of fact are when drivers are mistaken about the situation.
For example, the wind could have blown down a speed limit sign.
In that scenario, you could argue that you were doing the speed limit prior to being pulled over according to the last speed limit sign you saw, but the speed limit sign which displayed a new limit was blown down.
Meaning when the officer pulled you over, you were unaware of the change in speed limit and reasonably believed you were doing the correct speed limit.
In situations like this, the judge can throw out the ticket and demand the sign be fixed immediately.
“I’m Just Going to Pay My Traffic Ticket”
You may be thinking contesting your ticket is too much work and simply just want to pay it.
While this is a viable option you should be aware of how that could affect you in the long run.
It’s important to remember that paying a traffic ticket is an admission of guilt, resulting in the ticket going on your record.
Some employers require a clean driving record in order for their employees. If this is the case for you, simply paying the ticket could cost you your job.
Along with that, as mentioned above, a ticket on your record will raise your insurance premiums and could result in additional fees.
It may be tempting to simply pay the ticket to “make it go away,” but it doesn’t actually go away.
“So Do I Pay My Traffic Ticket or Not?”
If you are still asking, “Do I pay my traffic ticket or fight it?” there is hope.
You may not be worried about the hike in your insurance or about losing your job.
And, contesting the ticket yourself may seem overwhelming and daunting.
That’s ok, there are lawyers who specialize in traffic tickets and traffic laws.
If you need guidance or representation to contest your ticket contact us today!