Everyone hates traffic tickets. And when you receive one, you probably just wish you could forget about it, put the mistake behind you and move on. But before you brush your traffic ticket under your floor mat and forget about it, you need to make sure you take care of business to avoid the unwanted consequences that come from unpaid traffic tickets.
Traffic tickets are issued because you did something wrong while driving. Your vehicle was technically “moving” and you received a violation from law enforcement for an infraction like speeding, not using your turn signal, running a stop sign, and so on. These tickets vary in severity depending on the nature of the violation and the punishments associated will vary as well. Traffic tickets for small offenses may only require a payment of a fine. While other violations such as vehicular homicide or serious car accidents can result in prison time, loss of driving privileges, and significant fines.
It is important to note that parking tickets and expired tabs are “non-moving” citations for breaking local or municipal laws. “Non-moving” violations do not go on your driving records and carry smaller penalties.
If you are ticketed, the ticket will have all the important information on it.
Since state and local governments raise revenue through traffic and parking tickets, they have very little reason to keep the fine amounts low. And they will certainly increase the fine if it is not paid within a certain time period. Due dates will vary depending on the particular offense and state and local law, but one should expect a fine to increase if it is not paid by the original due date. Through increased fines, a minor traffic or parking ticket can quickly become a major headache.
Failure to pay by the due date or failure to appear in court to contest a traffic ticket could result in a bench warrant for your arrest at the discretion of the judge. Also, in many jurisdictions if you do not appear for a petty misdemeanor traffic ticket, they simply find you guilty and impose a fine. Authorities will not knock down your door in the middle of the night to make an arrest, but your license may be suspended. If you are subsequently pulled over, you can be arrested for your unpaid traffic tickets. If this occurs you could be held in jail until the court has a hearing on your case, unless the court previously set bail which you would then have to post or the unpaid fine is paid. Depending on the level of the ticket, if you fail to appear, you may face jail time or additional fines.
Avoiding jail time or being arrested is one thing, but failure to pay a ticket could also result in:
If you want to fight a traffic ticket, are facing serious penalties, or have a complicated situation (e.g. multiple tickets from different locales) you need to talk to a criminal defense attorney who handles traffic tickets. They can tell you what to expect in court and how to proceed so your rights are protected. They can make the calls and do the work so you can obtain the best possible outcome and restore your driver’s license. They can also appear on your behalf at most of the court appearances.