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SUMMARY: Traffic Tickets—Paying or Fighting Your Ticket—Traffic Ticket Fines and Penalties
If you've committed a traffic violation and received a citation, you'll need to decide whether to fight or pay the ticket. Traffic ticket fines and requirements will vary depending on where you committed the violation and whether it's unpaid parking tickets, unpaid traffic tickets, speeding ticket, red light ticket, or a ticket/penalty for driving without insurance.
If you've recently received a traffic ticket, you may face more than fines and an appearance in traffic court. Depending on the violation that caused the ticket and the court handling the citation, you may face:
- Action against your driver's license.
- Points on your driving record.
- Traffic court requirements.
- Increased car insurance rates.
- Mandatory traffic school or defensive driving.
The steps you'll need to take to handle your traffic ticket will be determined by the traffic court in the jurisdiction where you were cited. Fines and driver's license points will vary depending on the severity of the traffic law you violated.
While speeding tickets, red light tickets, and other moving violations will carry different fines and consequences, you'll need to handle each of them in a similar way. You can't just search for red light ticket cost and expect to find an accurate answer.
Click on your state to find options for handling and paying traffic tickets or refer to the citation you received for more instructions.
NOTE: Parking tickets will typically not have any effect on your driver's license or car insurance rates. Parking ticket fines are usually paid to the city where the parking violation occurred.
Whether you get a speeding ticket, red light ticket/intersection camera ticket, parking ticket, or fix-it ticket, you'll likely face a fine. To find out specific information on how and where to plead guilty and pay your traffic ticket fines, choose your state.
Your ticket payment options will depend on the traffic court handling your citation. Ticket payment options often include:
- Paying your traffic ticket online.
- Mailing your ticket fine/guilt plea to the traffic court.
- Delivering your traffic ticket payment to the court in person.
Be sure to pay your traffic ticket on time. Ticket fines will generally increase if you fail to pay before the deadline. Refer to your ticket for specific details about the fine amount and due date. Parking ticket fines can increase as well.
NOTE: If you were issued a "fix-it" ticket for an equipment violation, your fine will generally be reduced if you provide proof of correction to the court. This usually involves asking a police officer to sign off on your citation.
Defensive Driving/Traffic School and Traffic Ticket Dismissal
Depending on your driving history and the reason for your ticket, your traffic court may allow you complete a defensive driving or traffic school course to avoid adding any driver's license points and dismiss the ticket. You may need to pay your traffic court fine before you can complete the course. You'll usually only be able to complete a defensive driving course once every year.
Fight Traffic Tickets
If you believe you received your traffic ticket in error or have grounds to contest the citation, you should plead not guilty to the offense and fight the ticket in court.
You may find information on fighting a ticket on the back of the citation you received. You can also contact the traffic court handling your ticket for more information about pleading not guilty.
Consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney to help guide and represent you through the legal process.
If your state traffic court finds you not guilty of the violation, you will avoid the citation fine and points on your driving record.
NOTE: If you received a red light ticket and were not the driver in the photograph, you should follow the instructions provided to contest the ticket immediately.
Lost Traffic Tickets
Losing your ticket is a big deal. It has much of the pertinent information you'll need to pay your ticket in a timely manner to avoid further fines and penalties. Fortunately, most traffic courts have services to help you find citation numbers and help recover your lost traffic ticket.
Some courts have online ticket lookups that allow your to find your citation number. If you are not able to find your traffic ticket online, you should contact your traffic court as soon as possible.
A lost traffic ticket will not excuse you from paying your fines. Your driver's license may be suspended or revoked if you neglect to pay your traffic ticket for too long.
Tickets and Your Driver's License
Having driver's license points added to your driving record can lead to increases in your car insurance rates and the loss of your driving privileges. Some severe traffic law violations come with automatic driver's license suspensions.
Many traffic courts and state DMVs allow drivers to take defensive driving/traffic school in order to have points removed from their driving records. If you are guilty of a traffic violation, ask about your eligibility to take traffic school.
Some of the following violations may result in immediate driver's license suspensions:
- Extreme speeding ticket violations.
- DUI/drinking and driving offenses.
- Causing a serious accident.
- Pedestrian endangerment violations.
If you accumulate too many driver's license points as a result of multiple traffic tickets, you can also have your driver's license suspended.
Order your driving record to keep an eye on your license points and prior traffic law violations.
Car Insurance Violations
While getting traffic tickets can affect your car insurance rates, being guilty of a car insurance violation can affect you even more.
Most states require you to have some form of car insurance and proof of your policy. If you are caught without coverage, expect to see large fines as a penalty for driving without insurance. You may also face penalties against your driver's license and holds on your vehicle registration.
Some states allow insurance companies to cancel your policy for insurance violations. This typically means you will be tasked with finding a new car insurance company that will likely charge you with much high car insurance rates.
NOTE: If you received a traffic ticket for failing to provide proof of your insurance policy, you may be able to reduce your fine by providing your traffic court with proof of coverage when you received the ticket.
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