Fight Traffic Ticket in Ohio

Did you recently receive a traffic ticket in Ohio? Do you have the means to prove your innocence? If so, keep reading to find out how you can contest that OH traffic citation.

Plead Not Guilty to Your OH Ticket

To fight your Ohio traffic ticket in court, you must first enter a “not guilty" plea. You can do this either by:

  • Appearing in your appropriate municipal court on the date and time listed on your traffic citation for your arraignment, and giving a verbal plea of “not guilty".
  • Visiting the court with your OH traffic ticket before your arraignment and entering a written “not guilty" plea.

After pleading “not guilty", the Ohio municipal court clerk will assign you a date and time to return for your pre-trial conference.

Keep in mind, if you miss ANY of your traffic court dates, you could face the following penalties:

  • Loss of driving privileges.
  • Warrant issued for your arrest.

If you need to reschedule a court appearance or still have questions about entering your plea, contact the OH municipal court in charge of your case.

If you misplaced your traffic ticket, check out our guide for steps to take if you lost your citation in Ohio.

What Does Pleading Not Guilty Mean?

By pleading “not guilty," you're essentially affirming that you are innocent of the violation you've been cited for, and that you're accepting your right to stand before a judge to contest it.

Before entering your plea, make sure that you:

  • Have the time to appear in court (possibly multiple times).
  • Understand you could serve jail time if convicted of serious charges, like DUI or DWI.
  • Are aware points could be added to your record, possibly resulting in a suspended license.

If you're unsure about your options, take a look at our page on When to Fight a Traffic Ticket for more guidance.

Fight Your Ohio Ticket in Court

When you fight your Ohio traffic citation, the steps to contesting it in court could be:

  • Pre-trial conference.
  • Trial before a judge.

Consider hiring a traffic ticket lawyer PRIOR to appearing in court. If you choose to represent yourself, you'll need to be able to properly follow all procedures of OH traffic court.

The Ohio municipal court may appoint you an attorney if:

  • You're facing serious charges that could result in jail time.
  • You can't afford a traffic ticket lawyer on your own.

If you need guidance on whether an attorney is worth it for your circumstances, check out our guide to when to hire a traffic ticket lawyer.

Pre-trial Conference

At the pre-trial conference, you or your attorney will try to reach a plea agreement, which prevents you from going to trial. A plea agreement usually involves:

  • Changing your plea to “guilty".
  • Reduced penalties for your violation.

If you can't reach a suitable plea agreement, the Ohio municipal court will assign you a future date to return for trial before a judge.

Watch Those Insurance Rates!

Make sure you know how pleading guilty to traffic charges can affect your insurance rates BEFORE you agree to a plea agreement! Even though you'll avoid having to go to trial, you may end up having to pay higher auto insurance rates as a result.

Trial Before a Judge

When you arrive at trial to contest your Ohio traffic ticket before a judge, typically you can expect the following:

  • You (or your lawyer) and the prosecution each make opening arguments.
    • Both sides have the opportunity to present:
      • Evidence.
      • Witnesses.
  • The state prosecutor can cross examine you and/or your witnesses.
  • Both sides make closing arguments.
  • The judge hands down a verdict.
    • If the judge finds you guilty of the charges, they'll then impose your sentence.

Consequences of Fighting Your Ticket

The consequences of fighting your Ohio traffic ticket can be positive OR negative, depending on the outcome of your case.

If You Lose

Depending on the severity of your traffic violation, the sentence you'll face could include any of the following:

  • License suspension.
  • Fines.
    • Usually, you'll be required to pay all fines in court, on the day you lose your case. However, the judge may allow you to pay in installments if you don't have the means to pay up front.
  • Points added to your driving record.
  • Traffic school.
  • Community service.
  • Jail time.

NOTE: If you have a commercial driver's license, you MUST notify your employer of any traffic violations within 30 days of receiving a conviction; it's the law! You must also report any out of jurisdiction convictions to the Bureau of Motor Vehicles within 30 days.

Don't Lose Your Cool—Go to School!

A guilty verdict doesn't have to result in astronomical insurance rates! Amongst other benefits of completing a defensive driving course, enrolling in Ohio traffic school could reduce the amount of points added to your driving record.

If You Win

If the judge decides you're not guilty of the traffic charges, you can look forward to:

  • All charges being dropped.
  • No points added to your record.
  • Car insurance rates staying the same.
  • No fines or penalties.

Make sure you check your driving record to verify its accuracy after your result. Any errors on your driver history can have huge consequences down the road—including major fines or even license suspension.

DMV.ORG BBB Business Review