Let’s be honest: traffic tickets suck. They take up your time, money, and patience. Unfortunately, it seems like almost everyone gets saddled with a traffic ticket sooner or later. Death, taxes, and traffic tickets, am I right? Nevertheless, when it comes to traffic tickets, it seems like so many people don’t know how to properly deal with these little nuisances. At Bloom Legal, we have a saying. Dealing with traffic tickets is like balancing a checkbook. Both are tedious yet necessary skills that nobody ever seems to teach you how to do! Like a small clerical error in your checkbook, if you’re not careful, a small traffic infraction can end up costing hours of your time and hundreds of dollars. Below we set the record straight on some common misconceptions about traffic tickets, and provide a bit of advice along the way.
1. If I Don’t Pay It, It Will Go Away
You might be surprised by how much we’ve heard this one. We get it—it can be tempting. You get a traffic ticket on vacation or on your way home from a long day of work. Oftentimes you don’t have the time or mental capacity to deal with it right then, so you slide it in a kitchen drawer—and just like that it’s forgotten as quickly as it appeared. Out of sight, out of mind, right? Wrong. Unpaid traffic tickets don’t ever really go away. They may disappear for many years, but like Bruce Wayne leaving Gotham to train around the world, when they return they will be more powerful and fearsome than ever before. Thought you could ignore your traffic ticket? Now your traffic ticket is Batman. Failure to pay a traffic ticket on time will result in further fines, and in some cases can result in license suspension or issuance of a warrant. My uncle told me a story one time, about when he was working out of state in Oklahoma. He got a speeding ticket, put it in a drawer, and forgot about it. Ten years later, he’s driving through Oklahoma again, gets pulled over for a faulty taillight, and the officer arrested him. There was a warrant out for his arrest because of the unpaid ticket, and my uncle ending up spending the night in jail because of a simple speeding violation! An extreme example maybe, but a relevant one. Don’t let a small problem become a big problem. Deal with your ticket quickly and put it behind you before it becomes something worse. In most cases, you are required to respond to your ticket within 15 days of receiving it. That means paying the ticket outright, or indicating to the court that you intend to contest it. Fines and penalties for late or nonpayment of a traffic ticket are not printed on the tickets themselves, but failure to pay will always result in penalties. The particulars of those penalties will vary depending on the nature of your violation and the court where you are being charged. To learn these specifics, contact the traffic court in parish where you were ticketed, or a traffic attorney, who can do the legwork on your behalf.
2. I’ll Just Pay My Ticket and Be Done With It
Okay, so you know you’ve got to deal with the traffic ticket promptly and on-time. But don’t pull out the checkbook just yet. What many people do not realize is that paying a traffic ticket is always an admission of guilt. That is to say: paying your traffic ticket equates to pleading guilty in a court of law. If you plead guilty, you will be charged with the appropriate penalties for your violation. Depending on the nature of your violation, this could result in further fines, having your license suspended or revoked, or a spike in your insurance rates. For this reason, in many cases, we recommend against paying your ticket outright. Instead, consult with an experienced traffic attorney. They may be able to get you a reduced penalty, and can negotiate to try to keep infractions off your record and avoid hiked insurance premiums.
3. It’s My First Offense, So My Insurance Rates Won’t Go Up
Alas, if only! Louisiana does not use a driver’s license point system like many states do, but they keep an official driving record for individual drivers. Ultimately, it amounts to much the same thing. The official driving record is shared with your insurance company, who determine your rates accordingly. Again, it depends on the nature of your violation, but in most cases if you plead guilty to your alleged traffic violation (by paying your ticket), then the infraction will go on your official driving record. Even minor infractions stay on your driving record for years, and can negatively affect your insurance rates until they are cleared. Over time, this can cost you thousands of dollars—because of one ticket!
4. I Don’t Need To Hire a Lawyer For a Traffic Ticket
As has been shown, even a relatively minor traffic ticket can have expensive and long-lasting effects if not dealt with properly. Don’t be one of the people that gets burned. An actively timely and proactive approach can save you tons of trouble in the long run. It may seem like the cheapest or most affordable option is to pay the traffic ticket yourself and be done with it, but doing so can often result in spikes in your insurance premiums that will cost you hundreds, even thousands, until your record is clear again. Call the expert traffic lawyers at Bloom Legal instead. Our attorneys have years of experience fighting for clients in traffic court. We will work closely with you and your specific case, and will outline options and strategies minimizing your expenses, keeping you out of court, and your record clean. Let us work for you, and don’t let a traffic ticket become an expensive and long term problem.