Pay It Or Fight It? What To Do When You Get A Traffic Ticket

police officer writing traffic ticket

Here at Unger & Kowitt, we are all about trying to educate people on all things in the world of traffic ticket defense. Today we are going to answer the question of what to do when you get a traffic ticket.

Although many of you just pick up the phone and call us or come right over when you get a traffic ticket, often times with the ink from the ticket still wet, (we appreciate that, by the way) we think it’s important that you understand a little bit more about the ticket you received so you’ll know why it’s necessary to fight it, OR why you may just want to keep your life simple and pay it.

What?

Did I just suggest you may want to pay a traffic ticket? OMG, don’t fall over, I haven’t lost my mind just yet.

Traffic tickets are broken down into the “moving” and “non-moving” violations. Moving violations are things like speeding, and running a red light and they carry points, and you should ALWAYS FIGHT A MOVING VIOLATION TICKET. However, non-moving violations are things like equipment violations or failure to carry your license or illegal window tint. These violations do not carry points and sometimes, you may be better off to just pay them. When, you might ask? Keep reading.

There are times when a police officer will pull you over and only give you one citation for a non-moving violation. Other times, the officer is being nice and decides not to give you a ticket for the original reason she pulled you over (like speeding) and decides to only give you a “minor” violation, like a broken tail light.  In those instances, the best thing for you to do is say “thank you” and get out of there as quickly as possible and thank your lucky star.  You were just given a major break.

By only receiving a non-moving violation ticket, you won’t receive points on your license for paying the ticket, and the amount you will have to pay is usually very minor. If there aren’t going to be points, you no longer have to waste your time fighting the ticket, and you can avoid having to hire a lawyer to fight the ticket on your behalf (money you can spend on yourself instead).

Yes, paying a moving violation ticket will mean the ticket will appear on your driving record, and having a clean record is nice, but having minor, non-moving violations on your record are generally no harm.

One thing to keep in mind, if you get pulled over and receive a non-moving ticket WITH a moving violation (which is very common), you should fight those tickets together. Do not pay one and fight the other. In many jurisdictions, they will not even let you pay one and fight the other, but we don’t recommend you do that anyway. Many times, our attorneys will get the minor ticket dismissed while fighting the more serious moving violation. Additionally, if you were to hire an attorney to fight both tickets, most attorneys will agree to a lesser fee on the minor one anyway.

Ever get pulled over and talk your way out of a moving violation? What did the cop give you instead? Were you upset or did you realize you were given a huge break?