Fight Traffic Ticket in AlabamaPage Overview
You can respond to your AL traffic ticket in one of two ways: plead guilty and pay your fine, or plead not guilty and appear in court to fight your ticket. Most AL traffic tickets include information on how to approach each option. Can’t find your ticket? Check our section on retrieving lost AL traffic tickets.
(Plead Guilty or No Contest)
- Pay the fine.
- Accumulate points on your driving record (which could lead to license suspension or revocation)
- Pay higher auto insurance rates after your next renewal
- Potentially enroll in driving school to have the ticket dismissed
Learn more about
Paying your Traffic Ticket »
(Plead Not Guilty)
- Schedule a hearing to plead your case
- Represent yourself or hire a traffic ticket lawyer
- Give up any possibilities of pleading to lesser charges/penalties
- Experience no fines/penalties if found not guilty, except for related court costs and attorney fees
- Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).
Generally, AL traffic tickets include a court date and time. This information is for people who:
- Must appear in court due to the nature of the violation.
- Must appear in court because they’ve been convicted of a certain number of charges within a certain time period.
- Want to contest the ticket.
So, fighting your traffic ticket means appearing in court on that date and time, pleading your case before a judge, and receiving a verdict.
Usually, by fighting a traffic ticket in court, you forfeit any opportunity to plead to a lesser charge or attend a driving school to have the ticket dismissed. Also keep in mind that guilty verdicts typically bring increases in auto insurance rates.
Note that, if you’re actually guilty or don’t have a strong defense (“I wasn’t familiar with the new speed limit”), pleading guilty and paying your fine might be the easier, more practical option for you.
Learn more at Paying Your Traffic Ticket.
Avoid Additional Charges
Your traffic ticket provides information about how much time you have to either pay the fine or plead guilty and go to court; usually, this information is in the form of a hearing date, which means you have until that hearing date to take action.
Failing to pay the fine or appear for that hearing date brings consequences specific to the county in which you were ticketed, but most counties issue a “Failure to Appear” warrant and even consider you in contempt of court. If no resolution is reached (i.e. you don’t pay the fine or appear in court), the traffic court will forward the information to the DPS for license suspension.
Correcting these issues and getting your license back in good standing means paying additional fees; it’s best to take care of traffic violations as soon as possible.
Because most counties include an initial hearing date on their traffic tickets, all you’ll have to do is show up on that hearing date and tell the judge you want to plead not guilty. Some traffic courts hold a second hearing (the one to determine your guilt or innocence) on the same day; others will schedule a second hearing at a later date.
However, if your ticket doesn’t include a hearing date, there are steps you can take.
Locate the County Court
Your ticket should include contact information for the traffic court that will handle your case or, at the very least, the law enforcement office that ticketed you.
If your ticket doesn’t include any contact information, check the Alabama Traffic Service Center, where you can find contact information, including the address, to the court responsible for your traffic violation.
Schedule Your Hearing
Again, most hearings are automatically scheduled the minute you receive your traffic ticket, and the information is printed on the ticket. To plead not guilty and fight the ticket, you must show up to the appropriate traffic court location (also information that should be on your ticket) on that date.
If your ticket doesn’t include a hearing date, find your county’s traffic court and contact a clerk about scheduling a hearing for the purpose of contesting the ticket.
Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing
Typically, a driver can reschedule a hearing if he contacts his traffic court before the original hearing date.
Once you decide to plead not guilty and fight your ticket in court, consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney to represent you. These lawyers are experienced in Alabama’s traffic laws and can help you get the best possible outcome.
Spend the time between getting the ticket and your hearing date preparing your case. You can:
- Gather evidence that proves your innocence.
- Talk with witnesses about providing testimony.
- Prepare your own testimony.
Remember, a traffic ticket lawyer can help you prepare for exactly what you’ll face the day of your hearing.
When it comes to traffic court, there aren’t a whole lot of bells and whistles. The police officer who pulled you over will provide evidence and testimony to your guilt; you (and possibly your attorney) will provide evidence and testimony of your innocence.
The judge will listen, consider everything presented, and make a judgment.
Usually, drivers found not guilty can leave the court and continue their days; if there’s any paperwork to finalize, the judge or a clerk will let them know.
On the other hand, drivers found guilty are made aware of all applicable fines and penalties associated with the violation―including accumulated points. Depending on the violations (and accumulated points), some drivers have their licenses suspended or revoked at this time.
Filing an Appeal
If you receive a guilty verdict and are eligible to file an appeal, the traffic court judge or clerk will provide you with information on the appeals process.
Alabama uses a point system to penalize drivers who commit traffic offenses, and the DPS will suspend or revoke your license if you accumulate too many points. Therefore, it’s important to keep an eye on your driving record.
Always check your record after pleading guilty and paying a fine (to make sure only the applicable number of points were added to your record) and after contesting a ticket and receiving a not guilty verdict (to make sure you didn’t receive any points by mistake).
Check our section on the AL point system to learn more about how points affect your license and driving privileges.
Some auto insurance companies increase rates for policyholders who receive traffic violation convictions. Whether you plead guilty and pay your fine or fight the ticket and receive a guilty verdict, be sure to talk with your agent about how it might affect your rates, and then start comparing auto insurance rates online to find a better price.Other Topics in This Section