How Traffic Ticket Penalties Affect Teen Drivers

By: Alicia Sparks June 4, 2012
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Overall, teen drivers deal with many of the same traffic ticket penalties as adult drivers; the difference is, those penalties usually are just a smidge (or, a lot, in some cases) harsher.

“But...that’s not fair!”

Well, it depends on how you look at it. Teen drivers are still learning, and it’s important to instill good, safe driving habits early on. Doing so helps keep everyone on the road safe.

That is totally fair.

License Suspension and Revocation

Many states enforce immediate license suspension or revocation for any teen driver who commits any traffic violation. Generally, these suspensions or revocations last anywhere from 30 to 90 days, but it depends on the state and situation.

Extra Permit Time

Nearly every state has some sort of graduated driver licensing (GDL) system in place. The specifics depend on the state, but in general the system involves:

  • Earning a beginning learners permit.
  • Keeping that permit for a predetermined amount of time before getting an intermediate drivers permit or license.
  • Keeping that permit for a predetermined amount of time before graduating to a full drivers license.

If you get a traffic ticket during any permit phase, you run the risk of having to spend more time with that permit than originally planned. Some states add a few months on; others make teen drivers start the phase all over.

Point Accumulation

Earning points might be a good thing in video games, but this is the real world, pal.

Many states use a point system to keep track of their drivers’ habits; after a driver accumulates a certain number of points on his driving record, he receives a warning letter, has to attend traffic school, or loses his driving privileges for a certain length of time.

Fines, Fees, and Other Costs

So, you’re working down at the Grab ‘N Go and you think you can handle this yourself, huh?

Well, newsflash: Most teens who work have part-time jobs that pay minimum wage, and the fines, fees, and other costs associated with traffic ticket violations can cost more than you make in a month.

Additional Traffic Ticket Penalties

Depending on your state, violation, and personal situation, you might also face:

  • Traffic school or a drivers ed course.
  • Community service.
  • Driving restrictions involving certain times of day or certain locations.
  • Reclaiming your old school bus seat.
  • Losing your job...or getting a bus pass.
  • A bump in auto insurance rates. (If you're on your parents' policy...ooh, they're going to be mad.)

Are you a teen driver who’s gotten a traffic ticket? What penalties did you suffer? What advice would you offer other teens?

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