It’s easy to get stressed out by a speeding ticket or traffic citation, especially if it’s your first time through the motions. There’s a lot to think about, such as paying the ticket, the points on your driver’s license, a new mark on your driving history, and your insurance rates.
Consider this your guide to speeding tickets –how to handle them, what they could mean for you, ways you can save money, and the best possible way to approach traffic violations. Right out of the gate, we can tell you not to worry. While speeding tickets are preventable, statistics show that 70% of drivers are issued tickets on a yearly basis. Many of us find ourselves part of the 70%, so it helps to be prepared and know what to do in the event of a ticket.
What to do When an Officer Issues You a Speeding Ticket
It happens to a lot of people. There’s no traffic at this time of day, so you decide to just book it a smidge over the speed limit to save time. However, you may or may not have seen the patrol car stationed over on the side of the road. The flashing lights and sirens come on, and you must pull over. The officer will request your license and registration while asking about how fast you were going as to inform you why they pulled you over.
When in this situation, always remain level-headed and non-confrontational. Your parents probably told you in the past to be respectful to police officers when you were younger. Now is definitely the time.
When the officer returns from their car with your documentation and ticket, it will require your signature. The signature doesn’t function as a confession or anything like that; rather, it’s a legal agreement that you have received the ticket and are responsible for resolving it.
The average cost of a speeding ticket is $150 with added fines if you were to miss the payment deadline. The officer will tell you how to pay for your ticket in person, which requires you to go to a certain location in town. Of course, in today’s day and age, paying a speeding ticket can easily be done online. Instructions are also written on the back of the ticket itself in case you forget.
What is The Damage a Ticket Can Cause?
Speeding tickets are no small fees. As previously mentioned, they average around $150. A preliminary court date will also be set in conjunction with the payment due date.
In addition to the deadlines you now have to meet, a speeding ticket can also:
- Affect your driving record – Even a first-time speeding ticket can cause a mark-up on your driving record or history. Depending on the severity of the ticket or whether it’s your first one, you may be able to expunge it from the record later.
- Add DMV points to your license – The DMV applies what is called points to your license whenever you have a traffic violation. It’s like golf, you want the least amount of points as possible, or your license may be revoked. Points stay on your license for a certain period of time, depending on your state.
- Raise car insurance rates – A marked-up driving record and points on your license after a speeding ticket are grounds for your insurance company to increase your rates.
- Cost a significant amount – Paying the ticket amount is getting off easy compared to the court fees and overdue penalties.
- Assign a preliminary court date – All traffic violations have a court date with the municipal traffic division. This is another date to keep in mind, along with your ticket payment due date, if you decide to fight the ticket.
What Are Ways to Resolve a Ticket or Traffic Citation?
There are three sure-fire ways to resolve a speeding ticket. Even if it’s your first, the process remains constant. You can either pay the ticket, fight it in court, or seek mitigation. We’ll start off by simply paying the ticket before or during its due date. While the average cost is $150, some states may have higher fines for running over the speed limit. Regardless of state, the instructions on how to pay will always be printed on the back of the citation. You can head to a traffic division location or pay it through their website. Simple as that. We’ll get into the specifics of an unpaid ticket later.
You’d take a speeding ticket to court and fight it when you’re sure you weren’t speeding, or the ticket is unjustified. People do this to lower the fine or even points added to their license. It’s not about excusing the ticket; it’s about minimizing the cost. You’d be expected to pay court fees and hire a lawyer if you choose. There are specialized traffic attorneys. You can prepare for a traffic court hearing by knowing the circumstances of your ticket, ask to see the ticketing officer’s paperwork, and know what device they used to track your speed. These can be presented as evidence for your case.
The third option you have is to seek mitigation. However, it works much better when it’s your first speeding ticket, or you haven’t had one in several years. While you do admit to the ticket, you give an explanation of the circumstances leading up to the citation. Some judges have leniency if you’re a safe driver and could extend the time to pay it or lower the fine amount.
Another way to reduce the penalty is to take an approved defensive driving course. Like how insurance companies give safe driver bonuses to those who complete the course, the judge may reduce your penalty or fine. Taking driving classes or lessons shows that you are taking steps to become a better driver. Even if you choose not to seek mitigation, you may still take a driving class to lower your ticket fine.
What if it Was Your First Speeding Ticket?
If it is your very first time being issued a speeding ticket, then the penalties may be more lenient. However, they’re not to be taken lightly. The fine would be consistent with that of a driver with multiple tickets but seeking mitigation or having the citation dismissed is way easier. A judge would be more likely to grant leniency towards a first-time traffic offender rather than a repeat one.
Taking the approved defensive driving courses works wonders for those looking for easier penalties for their first speeding ticket. Of course, citations should only be fought against if you truly feel you were given one undeservingly. Otherwise, you’d be on the line for all sorts of court fees for nothing.
If it’s your first time in traffic court, always remember to explain your case in a detailed matter. Always remember to talk about the weather, traffic, and speed limit sign conditions and explain how they contributed to your ticketing. If you were only going five to ten miles over the speed limit, please mention that, as many drivers often do. Also, use proper traffic court verbiage like “not guilty” and “absence of” when referring to something that wasn’t there as a traffic signal. Above all, stay as level-headed as you were when you were pulled over.
How does a Ticket Affect my Insurance?
Speeding tickets and any other kind of traffic violation will have a direct impact on your insurance rates. Upon first receiving the speeding ticket from an officer, you’ll need to contact your insurance company and inform them. One citation is all it takes for points to be added to your license and rates to increase.
Insurance companies reserve the right to cancel a policy if multiple citations are issued in a short period of time. At that point, the only way to lower your premiums is to take a driving class to get those points off your license. License points signify an at-risk driver, which insurance companies don’t particularly like insuring.
Remember that speeding tickets are a 100% avoidable traffic offense. Not only will being a safer and more mindful driver save you on insurance, but it’ll also save you on citations. Always monitor your speedometer closely, brake when you see the car in front of you break, and remember to pass other drivers safely.