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Friday, December 05, 2008

Options if you do get a Traffic Ticket

So, you got caught and received a traffic ticket. You are probably angry and frustrated about having to pay a fine and wondering if you have any options. Before you go to traffic court, let’s take a look at what those options may be. These options may differ from state to state but with the internet, you now have more choices than ever.

Going to court - The first question you have to ask yourself here is; are you actually guilty of the offense? Most drivers, although they hate to admit it, are actually guilty of the offense for which they received the ticket. There is a lot of rationalization such as: “I was just keeping up with the flow of traffic” or “Everyone else was doing the same thing”. If “everyone else was doing it”, it may not seem fair but the officer can only stop one person at a time and it was your turn. If you were actually guilty, then going to court probably isn’t a good idea. You may wind up with an even greater fine along with court costs.
If you weren’t guilty of the offense and you can provide evidence that supports your claim, then you may have a case. If it is just your word versus the officer’s, then the officer’s word will probably carry greater weight. Remember, the judge has heard it all before.

Just paying your fine and letting it go - This is the choice a lot of drivers make but it does have drawbacks. If you admit guilt and just pay the fine, in most states, there will be points assessed against your driving record. Those points can add up and, if you get too many, you may find yourself with a suspended license, and your insurance rates can also increase.

Attending traffic school - Most states have an option that allows you to attend a traffic school to avoid points on your license or an insurance premium increase. If you are guilty of the offense, this is probably the best option for you. Remember though that most states place a limit on how many times you can attend a traffic school (usually no more than once a year) and place a time limit on completing the course. You will still have to pay your traffic fine but you may find that you receive a discount on your fine for electing traffic school. A couple of states actually allow you to attend traffic school voluntarily and bank points against a future ticket.

Options for traffic school – With the internet you now have two options for attending traffic school. Most states now allow you to attend traffic school online. This is a great option for people who lead busy lives and don’t want to devote a block of hours to attending a class. Online schools normally allow you to take the course at a time that is most convenient for you; completing it a little bit at a time as your schedule allows.

Using the Clerk of the Court to explore your options – Many county Clerks of the Court are now online and allow you to pay your fine and choose a traffic school from a list of approved schools. A simple Google search can point you to your county clerk’s web site.

To learn more about driver safety and education please visit our Driver Safety Alerts at

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