Traffic Tickets in Utah
While some moving violations such as a DUI result in immediate arrest, minor violations will result in a citation, or traffic ticket. A citation is a notice to "post" (or "forfeit") bail―meaning pay a fine to the court―or, for more serious offenses such as reckless driving, appear before a judge in court.
The ticket will state the date and time you are to appear as well as where to go. You'll need to either post bail or appear in court no less than 5 days and no more than 14 days after the ticket was issued. If you neither pay the fine nor appear in court, the court will issue a warrant for your arrest.
Note that even if you are allowed to simply post bail, you may choose to appear in court to contest the ticket. In that case, you can enter a "not guilty" plea and try to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney. If you're unsuccessful, a trial will be held and you, the ticketing officer, and any witnesses will have the opportunity to tell the judge your sides of the story.
Check Your Driving Record
Whether you lose in court or decide to forgo court and simply post bail, a citation for a moving violation will go on your record and the Division of Motor Vehicles (DMV) will notify the Driver License Division (DLD). The driver license office, in turn, will add points to your driving record according to Utah's point system.UTAH POINT SYSTEM
- Reckless driving: 80 points.
- Speeding (depending on severity): 37 to 75 points.
- Failure to yield right-of-way: 60 points.
- Following too closely (tailgating): 60 points.
- Wrong side of road: 60 points.
- Wrong way on one-way street: 60 points.
- Running a red light: 50 points.
- Running a stop sign: 50 points.
- Improper lookout: 50 points.
- Improper passing: 50 points.
- Negligent collision: 50 points.
- Other moving violations: 40 points
Not all tickets will be forwarded to the Driver License Division. The DMV does not relay information about some nonmoving violations such as an expired registration, for example. If you're curious about what's on your driving record, you may receive a copy by filling out the required forms and taking them to a driver license field office.
The upshot of getting too many traffic tickets (and therefore accumulating too many points on your record) will be the possible suspension of your license by the Driver License Division and increased insurance premiums. Even if you've never had an accident, nothing tells an insurance company that you're a high-risk customer like a consistent record of bad driving. Check with your insurance company for an explanation of how traffic tickets may affect your insurance.
Insurers use complicated algorithms to determine how much premiums should cost for each driver, so it's difficult to get an upfront estimate of how much you might be penalized for a traffic ticket. However, it's a safe bet that only one or two tickets could inflate your premiums. Multiple tickets will knock you into a high-risk bracket and could double or even triple your insurance payments. And if you're a serial offender or are convicted of a DUI, don't be surprised if your insurance company finally deems you too risky to insure and unceremoniously drops you, no matter how many years you've paid your premiums on time and not had an accident.
For an exhaustive list of traffic offenses, the class of misdemeanor for each offense, related bail and surcharges, and whether the violation will be reported to the Driver License Division, download the lengthy State of Utah Uniform Fine/Bail-Forfeiture Schedule.Other Topics in This Section