How much trouble depends on your state: You could be arrested or have to pay larger fines, or your license could be suspended. At NerdWallet, we strive to help you make financial decisions with confidence. To do this, many or all of the products featured here are from our partners. Our opinions are our own. Get your free credit score Get your score every week at no cost. Set goals and see your progress. Signing up won't affect your score. Get your free score.
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We want to hear from you and encourage a lively discussion among our users. With a little homework and effort, you may be able to pay a reduced fine and avoid having it on your record. A Big Expense for a Little Mistake. In many municipalities, traffic tickets are a big source of county revenues. John Bowman, communications director for the National Motorists Association, says fines collected from traffic tickets amount to billions of dollars. The association recommends that drivers always fight their tickets and it even publishes a page guide on how to do it.
Bowman says whether you're guilty or not, you should use every legal measure available to try to minimize your fine and, most importantly, try to prevent it from impacting your insurance premiums. The fine is just the beginning," says Bowman. For most drivers, that could amount to more than a week's pay.
Kowitt says he's seen clients who have had to make the decision between paying the ticket and paying their rent. It is in your interest to fight it because your options are not that great," says Kowitt. Explore Your Options Before Paying.
How to Beat a Speeding Ticket Or at Least Better Your Chances
When you immediately pay a ticket, you're automatically admitting guilt and will voluntarily pay the highest fine. You'll often have up to 90 days to enter a plea or pay the fine, so take some time to explore your options.
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Bowman says, "In most cases, you'll never go to trial anyway. In many cases, the district attorney will offer first-time offenders a reduced fine and will not release the citation to the insurance company.
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If that's not an option, start examining every piece of information on the ticket. This includes confirming all of your information, as well as the notes and documentation provided by the ticketing officer.
Ask yourself the following questions: Is the citation number correct? Is the intersection and location correct? What about the time of day? You can file a "discovery of motion" to request all the information about your case, including the officer's notes, calibration certificates for the radar gun and other details, which will help you in your investigation.
Kowitt says missing or incorrect information on a citation can often be grounds for dismissal. In many cases, a little bit of homework can go a long way," says Kowitt. Minimizing Fines and Insurance Impacts. You might also be able to approach the district attorney and simply ask for a plea to a lesser infraction.
How to Get Out of Speeding Tickets, Every Step of the Way
Feifer says while New York City doesn't offer plea bargaining, most other cities around the country do. There can be a lot of overhead in taking a case to trial, which is why many courts allow you to simply pay a fine and move on. SEE: How To Reduce Auto Insurance Costs "If you give the court the impression that you are serious about fighting the ticket, you are going to have a lot more leverage and control over the process," says Bowman.
Because traffic courts might have to handle hundreds of cases per day, there just isn't enough funding, staffing and time to take every single one to trial.
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