Dealing with traffic tickets can be a hassle. When you’ve been issued a citation for speeding, improper passing, failure to stop for a red light or another moving violation, it may seem tempting to just pay it. Yet doing so won’t make the problem go away. In fact, it can lead to much greater inconvenience and hassle down the road.
By paying a citation, you’re pleading guilty to the offense. That might not seem like a big deal for the occasional speeding ticket. However, consider the consequences:
- Increased insurance premiums: Moving violations can lead to skyrocketing insurance rates, particularly if you have a spotty driving record or other risk factors. Paying a ticket often means you’ll be paying jacked-up rates for a long time.
- Points on your record: Depending on the violation, you may have points assessed against your driving record. Get enough points, and your license could be suspended, meaning you can’t drive to work, to the grocery store, to school – anywhere. Some violations may result in automatic license suspension. While you can fight the suspension if you take action soon enough, it’s an entirely separate hurdle from the underlying violation – and one that’s likely to cost you time and money.
Additionally, by pleading guilty, you’re giving up any defenses you may have to the citation. These defenses might not always be obvious. Perhaps the officer didn’t have a valid justification for pulling you over, for example. Maybe the speed gun was defective. Perhaps the light hadn’t quite turned red. You should never give up your right to raise a defense unless you’ve thoroughly explored potential defenses – ideally, with the help of a knowledgeable traffic attorney.
Paying the ticket also means you won’t have the chance to negotiate a better outcome. Even without an ironclad defense, you may still be able to reach an agreement with the prosecutor for a reduced penalty. Simply showing up goes a long way.