– What to Do When You Get a Speeding Ticket –
Nothing spoils a trip like a speeding ticket especially when you’re traveling on vacation or driving to work. Besides carrying a fine, a ticket can add points to your driving record and jack up your car insurance rates, particularly if this is your second or third offense.
Getting a speeding ticket is never fun, but it’s a relatively common occurrence. One in ten drivers in the United States get stopped for speeding annually, and of those, usually, about 70% actually get tickets.
A speeding ticket can cause a lot of problems for you when it comes to your insurance rates, not to mention the cost of the ticket itself. Plus, if you get too many, you can end up having your license suspended.
In this article, we shall discuss a few things you can do to minimize the damage that a speeding ticket can cause.
What Happens If I Am Caught Speeding
There are three possible outcomes:
- You get offered a speed awareness course
- You get a speeding ticket, also called a Fixed Penalty Notice, along with a speeding fine and points on your license
- If your speed was excessive and dangerous, you could be summoned directly to court and prosecuted. If found guilty you will get a fine, points on your license, and possibly even a driving ban.
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What to Do After Getting a Speeding Ticket
Stay Safe and Calm
Don’t do anything stupid. When the officer signals for you to stop, put on your turn signal and find a safe place to pull over out of traffic. Once you’ve stopped, turn on the hazard lights and stay in the car.
Keep your seatbelt fastened until the officer has seen you wearing it, advises the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA).
Meanwhile, stay calm, keep your hands on the steering wheel, and ask everyone in the car to keep their hands in plain sight, too. If you’re asked to get out, do so slowly.
Answer questions, and be civil. Don’t argue — save that for a judge. On the other hand, don’t admit to anything that could be used against you in court.
In most states, you’ll be asked to sign the citation, which means you received it, not that you admit any wrongdoing, the NHTSA says.
Review Your Options
When it comes to a speeding ticket, you may either plead guilty and pay the fine or plead not guilty. If you select the “not guilty” option on speeding tickets, you will have to make an appearance in court.
A date will be set for you to appear before a judge or court magistrate. If you don’t want to pay the fine at all, be ready to face the consequences we discussed in this article.
Some states may give you a third option, which is enrolling in a traffic school. This one basically involves taking a driver’s safety class or defensive driving course.
If you successfully complete the course, you can get the ticket removed from your record completely. This also means that it will not impact your car insurance rates whatsoever. For Virginia speeding laws, click this to see our info guide.
If you try to ignore the ticket, a bench warrant will be issued by a judge. This means that you could get placed under arrest the next time your car is pulled over by an officer.
Paying Your Ticket
You can choose to simply admit guilt and pay your speeding ticket. Most jurisdictions allow you to do this in person or online. Paying your ticket online can be extremely convenient, but it sometimes comes with an additional fee.
In case you want to pay through a credit card, you’ll likely be charged a fee of some kind. All you have to do is visit the appropriate website and enter the number on your citation.
Make sure that you are fully aware of all the fees that you’ll have to pay with your speeding ticket before making a decision. In states like California, there tend to be lots of additional fees on most traffic and speeding tickets.
If you want to pay for your ticket in person, you’ll need to visit your local courthouse. You’ll want to find out which forms of payment are accepted before going down there.
Going To Court
If you make the decision to plead not guilty and go to court, there is a process you’ll have to go through. You will be assigned one court date, which you need to take seriously. Make sure that you know what to say in court and that you show up early just in case.
It is a good idea to do this if it is your very first speeding ticket because you can probably get it reduced or even dismissed. Talk to the prosecutor to see if they’d be willing to bring it down to some lesser charge.
This can potentially save you money and points on your license. While the judge makes the final decision, it is worth trying.
Fight the Ticket
Depending on the circumstances regarding your ticket (for example, if you were not actually speeding or if there’s another reason you feel the ticket was unjustified), you may choose to fight the ticket in court.
Some people dispute their ticket even if it was justified, simply to see if they can get the fines and/or points reduced.
In most cases, you should expect to appear in court if you decide to fight the ticket. You can represent yourself, or you can hire a lawyer to fight for it for you.
If the penalty is very serious or if you may potentially lose your license because of the ticket, it is better to hire a lawyer to help you.
If you go to court, the prosecutor has to present evidence to prove that you committed the violation. At the end of the hearing, the judge will either have you pay the full fine, reduce the fine, or dismiss the ticket completely.
The final choice that you have when it comes to dealing with a speeding ticket is to seek mitigation. This is a good option if you have not had any tickets or violations in many years, or if it’s your first ticket.
Mitigation is where you admit to the ticket and explain the circumstance under which you were committing the violation. Sometimes explaining the circumstances can lead the judge to have leniency with you. Potential outcomes in mitigation can include:
- Extended time to pay the fine
- A lower ticket amount
- An alternative such as a defensive driving course or traffic school to reduce the penalty
Seeking mitigation does not always mean an automatic reduction. In some cases, the court will reject the arguments and explanations, forcing you to pay the full cost and receive points.
However, you have nothing to lose by trying. Remember that when seeking mitigation, you cannot go back later and appeal it because you are admitting that you committed the violation.
A defensive driving course can be a huge help to many drivers–it can help dismiss a ticket, fulfill a court order, and even reduce points on your driving record.
Our defensive driving courses come in different formats, so check your state’s requirements and choose the one right for you.
Frequently Asked Questions
1. The officer did not let me see the radar. Can I get the ticket dismissed on this?
No. The police officer does not have to let you see the radar or laser reading.
2. I passed a police car and was speeding, but they did not stop me. Could the officer have written down my license plate and given me a speeding ticket later?
Usually no. Theoretically, they can give you a speeding ticket up to 6 months from the day it happened, but the officer has to identify not only the vehicle that was being driven but the identity of the driver as well.
3. The police officer reduced the amount of speed on the ticket. They said if I fight it they will put it back up. Should I still fight it?
It’s your right under Canadian Law to fight any speeding ticket you receive. You can still plead not guilty. Although the officer can give you a speeding ticket for whatever speed they like, it’s unusual that the speeding ticket will be put up in court.
We hope this article helps you explore the different choices you have when dealing with a speeding ticket.
Take a look at the options we have listed above and decide on the course of action that will work the best for you. Best of luck!