It seems like a no-brainer: Get a traffic ticket, scowl in your rearview mirror before pulling back into traffic, and pay the fines by the printed deadline. Yet numerous drivers ignore the last, painful but important step and end up in deeper trouble than they started with. In case you ever face the dilemma of whether to pay, check out why it’s smart to just deal.
Handcuffs Are So 2007
Many states don’t take kindly to unpaid traffic tickets. In fact, most courts will likely issue a warrant for your arrest. And while it might seem like a drastic measure, this deterrent doesn’t work on everyone. Perhaps few are aware that skipping payment could land them a night in the clink. Or maybe some courts don’t vigorously enforce it. But would you really want to take a chance?
If you can’t pay the traffic ticket by the deadline, try contacting the court about pushing back the appearance date. Some states allow their drivers to postpone the deadline as long as they submit a request before the original deadline. Be sure you also inquire about the specifics of such a request. Some courts might allow a written request, while others will require you to do so in person.
You Want to Keep Driving, Dontcha?
The other penalty that rides shotgun with bench warrants is driver’s license suspension. This too seems like a tough-love approach, especially if you consider all the inconveniences that go with a suspended license: reinstatement fees, possible retesting requirements, increased auto insurance rates and more. Add to all that the fact that you completely lost your right to drive.
If you don’t want to go down the road of bumming rides and dishing out extra cash on fees and fines, stay on top of your citation. Not only is driver’s license suspension a pain in everyone’s neck, it often leads to further hassle. For example, if you get pulled over again, and this time on a suspended license, you’ll face even harsher penalties and could get your license revoked or canceled.
Oh No You Didn’t
Still not convinced you should fork over the money? Perhaps you feel you were wrongfully ticketed. In this case, fighting the traffic ticket might sound more appealing, Just be sure you can make a strong case by the court date listed on your citation. This typically entails going before a judge or jury to state your side of the story. At this time, the officer who slapped you with the citation will do the same. You also have the option to present witnesses who support your story and hire an attorney to skillfully help plead your case.
To learn more on fighting a traffic ticket in a specific state, check out DMV.org’s driver guides. You might also find the steps for contesting your ticket on the citation itself. Keep in mind the procedure to deny charges varies from court to court. And, be sure you act in a timely manner; missing the deadline to respond to the court could mean additional fines and the loss of your driving privilege.
Have you ever failed to pay a traffic ticket? If so, what consequences did you face? Leave a comment below or share your story on Facebook with our community of drivers to connect with others in your state who have faced similar circumstances.