No one likes being pulled over for a traffic ticket. Also referred to as citations, these tickets are usually issued when a motor vehicle law has been violated by the driver, relevant to the state they are in. In most of the cases, an apparent violation is observed by a police officer, who then stops the driver and issues them a ticket. There are some situations, as in the case of red light violations, when a ticket is sent to the driver via mail and they don’t interact with an individual police officer after the violation. Once a ticket has been issued to the driver, they have to decide whether they want to pay it or contest it.
Paying the ticket is usually regarded as an admission that the violation was committed by the driver. A driver may decide to contest a ticket if they are able to show that they were not in violation of the traffic law in question. It is possible that the police officer may not have observed the scene accurately, or they didn’t draw reasonable conclusions from what they observed. On the other hand, it should be noted that a driver may not be able to beat a ticket by claiming that the police officer was biased or that no harm occurred due to the violation.
The most common type of moving violations is a speeding ticket, but there are a number of other moving violations that can also occur. For instance, a driver may not be moving at an adequate distance behind the car that’s in front of them or they may violate cellphone laws within their state. Behavior such as driving too slowly can also lead to a violation, if it causes a hazard or impedes traffic. Unsafe lane changes are also another reason traffic tickets are issued.
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Consequences of Traffic Tickets
Even though it is certainly less serious than the other criminal offenses out there, this doesn’t mean that a traffic ticket doesn’t impact your life. In fact, it can have some serious impact because your license could be suspended, or you may be required to pay a fine. In addition, repeated tickets can also lead to an increase in your insurance premiums. However, very few drivers end up going to jail because of a traffic ticket, unless the incident is extremely egregious. A driver may be sent to jail for reckless driving or a DUI, but these are considered severe and dealt with in a different manner from ordinary moving violations.
Let’s take a look at some of the common consequences of traffic tickets:
The fine that you will be required to pay for a traffic ticket will mostly depend on the severity of the violation you commit, along with your history of previous tickets. A typical ticket usually has a fine between $75 and $400. You may be required to pay a higher fine for a speeding ticket, if you exceeded the speed limit significantly. When you pay the fine, it means that you have acknowledged your guilt for violation and it will stay on your driving record for a certain amount of time. The time duration will usually depend on the state, but it mostly lasts for three years.
However, it should be noted that if you go to traffic school, along with paying the fine, the infraction will not show on your record. If you are unsure of the amount of fine for the violation and it is not printed on the traffic ticket, you can get in touch with traffic court to find out. There is also the option of mitigating the consequences, where you can get the fine reduced, but this will depend on the situation. There are some situations where fines cannot be reduced, such as tickets issued for school or construction zones.
There is a unique point system for every state and certain points are given to the driver on their record for every moving violation. Your license will be suspended if you get too many points in a certain time period. One or two ordinary tickets don’t result in the suspension of a license for an adult driver, but three or more violations in a few years could put it at risk. For drivers under the age of 18, a single violation can result in suspension. Parking tickets don’t result in license suspensions.
A license suspension can be prevented via a hearing before a Department of Motor Vehicles’ officer. The basis of traffic tickets that resulted in the points can be challenged, or mitigate the consequences by arguing that they need to drive for their job. Even if you cannot prevent a suspension, you might be able to obtain a hardship license that permits you to drive for essential, limited purposes
One of the primary reasons drivers may fight traffic tickets is to prevent an increase in their insurance premiums. If you have only received a single ticket in a few years, you are unlikely to face an increase, but multiple tickets, especially where you were at fault, can cause a problem. You can get in touch with your insurance company to get more information about their policy for increasing premiums depending on traffic tickets. Some people may not want to tell their insurance company about receiving a ticket, particularly if they plan on going to traffic school to wipe it out.
As mentioned earlier, an ordinary violation can be removed from the record of a driver if they attend a traffic school course. This can last for about six to eight hours and you can also complete it online. However, there is a limit to how many times you can get a ticket wiped out in this way, and it varies from state to state. It usually ranges from one to two years. In some places, you may not have to pay the fine either, if you take the course, while in others you have to do both.