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  • Fight Traffic Ticket in Rhode Island

    Know Your Options

    You can plead guilty or no contest to your ticket, pay the fines and associated costs, and deal with the penalties, or you can contest the ticket and fight the charges in court.

    Pay Ticket
    (Plead Guilty or No Contest)

    • Pay the fine, possibly online.
    • Risk suspended license or other penalties, like a habitual offender label.
    • Potentially receive the good driving record ticket dismissal.
    • Face increased auto insurance rates..

    Learn more about
    Paying your Traffic Ticket »

    Fight Ticket
    (Plead Not Guilty)

    • Plead not guilty at your arraignment.
    • Prepare and present your case at a hearing, possibly with a traffic ticket attorney.
    • Gain no penalties if found not guilty.
    • Appeal the guilty verdict (if applicable).

    What it Means to Fight Your RI Traffic Ticket

    Overall, fighting your RI traffic ticket means:

    • Appearing in court for your arraignment (date printed on ticket).
    • Entering a not guilty plea.
    • Receiving a hearing date.
    • Preparing for your hearing, possibly with a traffic ticket lawyer.
    • Making your case before the judge.
    • Receiving a verdict.
    • Drivers found guilty can appeal the verdicts, or go ahead an handle their specific ticket fines and penalties.

      Pleading Guilty or No Contest

      Sometimes, drivers find it’s easier to just plead guilty or no contest, pay their fines, and deal with the penalties.

      Usually, these drivers face mild violations, have relatively good driving records, and don’t want to spend the time (or have the evidence) to prove they’re innocent.

      Some drivers can even take advantage of the state’s good driving record statute and have the ticket dismissed.

      Learn more about these options, including whether you can pay your ticket online, at Paying Your Traffic Ticket.

      Avoid Additional Charges

      Your RI traffic ticket includes a date by which you must appear in court for your arraignment.

      If you fail to appear on this date, the court will enter a default judgment and possibly put out an order for:

      • License suspension or revocation.
      • Vehicle registration suspension.
      • State income tax withholding.
        • NOTE: These penalties apply to drivers who fail to appear on their actual hearing dates, too.

    Notify the Court

    Determine Where to Plead

    Your ticket includes information about the court handling your ticket, and this is where you’ll plead.

    Typically, Ticket Tribunals handle state violations and Municipal Courts handle city tickets.

    Inform the Court

    Generally, you must show up on your hearing date (the date printed on your ticket); this date is considered your arraignment date.

    At your arraignment, you’ll tell the judge you want to enter a plea of not guilty and the judge will schedule your traffic ticket hearing.

    Rescheduling or Postponing Your Hearing

    Typically, Rhode Island courts don’t issue continuances for traffic ticket cases; however, this doesn’t always mean you’re stuck with your arraignment or hearing date.

    First, try contacting the Ticket Tribunal or Municipal Court handling your ticket. Explain the situation, and ask for a rescheduled date.

    Then, if that doesn’t work, turn to a skilled traffic ticket lawyer.

    Hire a Traffic Ticket Attorney

    Consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney if you:

    • Need help preparing and presenting your case.
    • Don’t want to speak in court.
    • Want someone to examine and cross examine witnesses and the prosecution.
    • Have evidence to present.
    • Are facing serious charges, such as those involving DUI or fatality.
    • Are open to a plea agreement.

    These experienced lawyers also can help you reschedule your hearing and file the paperwork and payment for an appeal.

    Prepare Your Case

    Consider these factors as you prepare your traffic ticket case:

    • Testimony. This is “your side” of the events, and it’s a good idea to practice it.
    • Evidence. Do you have any tangible proof that you’re innocent?
    • Witnesses. Was anyone present during the event? Should you subpoena that person?

    Remember: Skilled traffic ticket attorneys have experience with each of those factors. Your attorney can also help you with any paperwork and filing procedures required for submitting evidence and subpoenaing witnesses.

    Plead Your Case Before a Judge or Jury

    Rhode Island traffic ticket cases are similar to most other kinds of simple hearings.


    • Opening statements from both sides.
    • Presentation of testimony, witnesses, and evidence.
    • Closing arguments.

    After the closing arguments, there will be time for motions to dismiss. You or your lawyer might make a motion, or the court might make a motion.

    Once that time is over, if the ticket isn’t dismissed or the judge dismisses only certain violations, it’s time for a verdict.

    If you’re found guilty, you must deal with all applicable ticket fines and penalties, or file an appeal.

    Filing an Appeal

    The court is required to inform you of your right to an appeal, but in general you can file an appeal if you do not agree with your verdict. You must pay a fee and use your court’s appropriate form.

    Your first appeal will go to an appellate panel with the Traffic Tribunal; you can appeal the appellate panel’s decision with the District Court.

    Check Your Driving Record

    Rhode Island doesn’t use a point system, so you don’t have to worry about points showing up on your driving record―regardless of your verdict.

    However, violations show up, so it’s a good idea to keep an eye on your record and make sure:

    • No violations show up if the judge found you not guilty or dismissed your ticket
    • Only the applicable violations show up if the judge found you guilty.

    Learn more at RI Driving Records.

    Shop for Better Auto Insurance Rates

    Once it’s time to renew your policy (and perhaps before), your auto insurance provider will learn about your guilty verdict and most likely will increase your rates.

    Talk with your agent about this possibility, and if you find out you do face an rates increase, consider shopping for lower rates now.