If you drive long enough, eventually you will see flashing blue lights in your rear view mirror. It’s unavoidable. You know it’s true. In fact, you should probably consider yourself lucky you don’t get more tickets. If you’re being honest, you are like most people in that you probably do something wrong every time you get behind the wheel.
Seriously, when you come to that stop sign and no one’s around, do you really come to a complete stop or do you slow down, roll a bit while you check to make sure it’s safe and proceed? I thought so.
So the fact that you finally got caught doesn’t have to be the end of the world. But you need to remember there is one thing that you should NEVER do when you get a traffic ticket and that is . . . .wait for it . . .
Believe it or not, there is a huge percentage of people that fail to take any action when they get a ticket and sadly, their minor traffic ticket turns into a major headache.
I know, I know, you meant to do something about it but your forgot. You just threw it in your glove box and hoped it would go away or you were running late (which might be why you were pulled over in the first place) and you just stuck it in the sun visor of your car. Or you looked at the cost of the ticket and freaked out because you don’t have that kind of money (speeding in a school zone can certainly cause someone’s eyes to bulge out of their head).
Whatever the reason, this is not the time to stick your head in the sand and act like that will help. Traffic tickets are one of those things that get worse, in some cases much worse, if they are ignored.
So now that I’ve clearly explained that doing nothing is the single worst thing you can do, you are probably wondering what you should do when you get a traffic ticket.
No problem, I wouldn’t leave you hanging. I’ve written some other blogs on the subject and they go into more depth here, but, the condensed version of those blogs is as follows:
In Florida, when you get a ticket, you have three options.
1) Pay it-I personally feel this is the worst option because you are admitting to doing the violation and this will result in points on your driver’s license and an almost guaranteed insurance increase.
2) Pay it and elect traffic school-Almost as bad as option 1 in my book because your are paying the ticket immediately, AND you are paying the cost of the school, AND you are committing to spending at least 4 hours of your life in traffic school. I know they have traffic school online, but it’s still 4 hours of time that I can promise you will wish you had back when it’s done. A few side notes about school, if you have been to the 4 hour class in the last 12 months, you must take the 8 hour school and you only get 5 traffic school elections in your lifetime, so you may not want to waste them. Which leads me to your 3rd and final option.
3) Fight Your Ticket- You don’t have to be an attorney to fight your own traffic ticket. I’ve given you enough information here to get you pretty far. Remember a few things. When you elect to pay your ticket, you’re already putting your ticket on “layaway.” You do not have to pay for that ticket until the end of your trial, and (and this is big) if you get it dismissed you will not have to pay anything.
So, I think it’s pretty obvious that I endorse option 3. A few things to remember about fighting a ticket yourself. You must inform the court of your decision by the time stated on the ticket. Usually it’s 30 days from when the ticket was issued, but make sure you check it out. The other thing, and I hope this is obvious, is when you get a court date, you MUST appear. You can’t chicken out at the last minute and decide not to show, as this will result in a suspension of your driver’s license.
If all this feels like too much pressure or if you are overwhelmed at the prospect of fighting it yourself, you can always hire a lawyer. My firm is in court every day and we have a team of lawyers to make sure we are in every court and ready to go. Fees start at $49.95, so you may decide it’s worth it for peace of mind to let the experts handle it. Up to you. Just make sure, whatever you do, that you do something instead of nothing.