While a speeding ticket is usually a minor infraction, some traffic violations are more serious. No matter the violation, you must respond, enter a plea, and deal with any penalties. Here are four things to keep in mind about pleading your case in court after getting a traffic ticket.
Respond As Required
The worst thing to do if you get a traffic violation is ignore it. You must show up when required to enter your plea. You may be able to enter your plea by mail or online, but you must follow the directions carefully. Failing to appear or respond can increase penalties and may cause the suspension of your driver’s license until the matter is resolved. When appearing in person, arrive early, and follow the court’s dress code.
Choose the Right Plea
You can plead not guilty and request a trial or plead guilty and accept the penalties imposed by the judge. You usually have the option of pleading no contest as well. When you plead no contest, you do not admit guilt but accept the conviction and penalties. In some states, you must plead no contest before you can take a defensive driving or traffic school course to clear the incident from your record.
Know the Consequences
In addition to a fine and possible jail time, a traffic violation can have consequences you don’t find out about until later. The impact on your driving record can cause you to lose some professional driving jobs. Some companies, like Tri Cities Law Group, know that your car insurance rates may increase because of a traffic violation too. Unpaid tickets can be reported to credit bureaus, show up on credit reports and negatively impact your credit score.
Fulfill All Penalties
You may be assessed additional penalties if you don’t pay all fines and submit documentation of required courses on time. You could even lose your license or be sent to jail if the traffic ticket involved is for a serious infraction. Courts are not always forgiving, so don’t give the judge a chance to impose additional penalties. Understand and follow all requirements so you can put the incident behind you quickly.
You may want to ask a lawyer to help you decide what actions are best after getting a traffic ticket and help you plead your case in court. A lawyer may be able to appear for you, saving you time off work and other hassles. Pleading guilty or no contest is easier than pleading not guilty and going to trial, but all plea options have consequences you must understand and accept.