My First Traffic Ticket

First heartbreak. First job interview. First speeding ticket. There is certainly a first time for everything in life. Sometimes we know how to handle these firsts, and sometimes we don't.

So you've got a traffic citation. Lets just examine a few things together. First of all, you are not alone. Recent numbers show that about 112,000 speeding tickets are issued every day. That's about 41 million speeding tickets per year, the equivalent of almost one ticket per second.

Driving faster than posted speed limit is one of the most common traffic violations in the United States.

Getting pulled over is a pretty standard process. The officer will take your license and registration back to his vehicle and return with your ticket. You just need to be respectful. Never try to argue with the officer or persuade not to give you a ticket.

Commonly the officer will ask you to sign confirming you received the ticket. Signing does not mean that you agree with the ticket. It merely acknowledges that you received it.

On the ticket there will be a lot of important information, including your contact and personal information, your vehicle information, the type of violation - commonly speeding, the posted speed limit, the police officer name, and information about the court including the preliminary date to hear about the offense.

Speeding tickets have consequences.

If you do not respond to a ticket, or fail to pay a fine for a moving violation that you committed in any state except Alaska, California, Michigan, Montana, Oregon or Wisconsin, the DMV would suspend your license until you respond to the ticket or pay the fine. If you are a driver from different state, you must contact the DMV in your home state to get information about the effect of a traffic violation received.

A first-time speeding ticket could raise your insurance rates, make you lose the safe driver status damaging your driving record, and cost you money in fines and court fees.

Assuming the average cost of $150 per ticket, drivers will pay just over $6 billion dollars in speeding ticket fees this year alone. That's a lot of zeros.

Remember however that speeding is not only expensive - it can be deadly. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) , roughly 27% of traffic fatalities in 2018 happened in crashes involving at least one speeding driver.

WARNING - It might be tempting to throw your ticket on the kitchen table and hope it goes away on its own, but it won't. If you wait too long to handle your ticket, the consequences could get more serious. You can have several other consequences including arrest and added points for ignoring a traffic ticket.

In Florida, for example, you have 30 days to address your ticket. Depending on your driving record, your options could include going to traffic school, paying a fine, or requesting a court appearance. Do nothing, and the state could suspend your license. If you are stopped by the police while driving with a suspended license, you could even be thrown in jail!

The bottom line? The quicker you address a speeding ticket, the less of a headache it will be.

You can respond to a speeding ticket in a number of ways. Your options will depend on your state and your driving record. Generally speaking, you can choose to pay a fine, dispute the ticket in a court hearing, or complete a traffic school course.

Option 1: Pay the ticket's fine.

Your ticket may specify that you have a mandatory court appearance. If it doesn't, you can simply pay the ticket fine online, by mail, or in person any time before its due date. Refer to the specific instructions on your ticket. In most states, you have 30 to 90 days to pay.

Why pay the ticket? Fighting a ticket in court can be time-consuming, expensive, and confusing. If you are not confident in your chances of getting the ticket dismissed, you may wish to save yourself the hassle.

Option 2: Fight the ticket in court.

If you choose to attend your scheduled court appearance, you will have the opportunity to argue your case before a judge. A prosecutor will likewise need to prove you were speeding to enforce the ticket. Once both sides present their case, the judge will render a decision on your speeding violation.

Why fight the ticket in court? If you are facing the potential for points on your driver's license, a significant increase in your car insurance rates, or other serious consequences, it may be worth the time and effort to fight the ticket in court.

Option 3: Complete traffic school.

In many states, you can reduce your speeding ticket fine or get the violation removed from your driving record if you enroll in and complete an approved traffic school course.

If your first speeding ticket goes on your driving record, your car insurance rates could increase, but the increase likely won't be drastic or immediate. However, if you accumulate multiple speeding tickets in a short time, you may face significantly higher insurance rates and could get dropped from your coverage.

A speeding ticket could also make you not be eligible to special insurance discounts. You can prevent speeding tickets - yes, speeding tickets are really 100% preventable.

Just slow down, pay attention to posted speed limits, practice safe and defensive driving, be courteus to all.

DriverEducators offers several courses to help removing the speeding violation from your driving record.