If you have received a traffic ticket, it is important that you handle it responsibly. Keep in mind that a traffic ticket may be a relatively minor blemish on your record, but it can turn into a more serious issue if you fail to act on it appropriately. Unpaid citations can result in greater fines or even in the need to serve time in jail. It is always best to follow the rules of the law when you have received a citation for even a minor infraction, and there are a few steps that you can consider to ensure that you comply with the law fully.
Learn About Your Options
In most cases, your law enforcement officer who issues the ticket will provide you with basic verbal instructions regarding how to respond to it. At minimum, he or she may point out the date by when you need to respond to your ticket and where to find out more information about your options. Typically;
- You can find basic information about your options on the back of the citation notice, or you may receive a handout from the law enforcement officer when you receive the ticket.
- This may contain the contact information for the courthouse that will be handling the citation and other relevant information.
- If you have questions about your options, you should contact the courthouse directly.
Respond By The Due Date
It is important that you go to the court on the date specified on the ticket.
- Depending on your municipality and the type of citation that you received, this may be anywhere from a few weeks to a month or slightly longer.
- If the due date passes and the court has not seen you take action on the citation, a warrant may be issued for your arrest.
- If you plan to pay your fine rather than contesting the ticket, you generally will need to do this before the due date.
If you are taking a driver’s education course or are fighting your citation in court, you still need to follow specific and established rules of the court well before the due date.
Pay Your Fine or Fees
The fastest and easiest way to handle your traffic citation may be to pay your fines or fees outright.
- You can plead guilty or no contest typically by signing the citation and mailing it into the courthouse with the appropriate fee.
- Keep in mind that the court may need to have the envelope postmarked or received by the due date, so do not delay following this step.
Consider a Driver’s Education Course
In some areas, you may be able to take a driver’s education course to avoid receiving a penalty on your driver’s record. However, in some cases, you may still be required to pay the entire citation fee before the mandatory due date. Take time to thoroughly learn about the rules for a driver’s education course so that you understand the pros and cons of exercising this option.
Fight Your Citation in Court
If you believe that your citation was not warranted, you may fight it in the court. If you are successful, the entire fine may be withdrawn. But if you lose, you will be required to pay the fine along with court fees. Some people prefer to hire an experienced traffic ticket attorney to represent them in the court with the objective of getting the case dismissed or getting the fine reduced significantly.
A traffic citation can be a hassle to deal with. However, you should follow these steps to responsibly deal with it. This can help you to avoid even more significant legal issues that could result if you fail to respond to your traffic ticket properly.
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