When you receive a traffic ticket, a common instinct is to mail it in, plead guilty and pay the fine to avoid the hassle of contesting.
However, this can lead to additional costs and consequences you may not initially consider. Everyone has the right to contest a traffic ticket, from minor offenses to more serious charges.
Common traffic violations
When you fail to follow traffic rules and regulations, there are many common behaviors and actions that may earn you a ticket.
- Reckless driving
- Leaving the scene of an accident with property damage
- Cutting off another vehicle
- Burned-out headlight
- Using a cell phone
- Improper stop at a stop sign
- Improper yield at a yellow light
- Failure to use a turn signal
- Illegally parking in a handicapped zone
- Over-aggressive driving
This is just a brief list of common violations. Even making obscene hand gestures to other drivers can lead to a traffic ticket if a police officer witnesses the interaction.
What you may not consider before mailing off the ticket with your fine payment are the extended consequences. A traffic violation adds points to your driving record. If you continue to accumulate points, you can have your license suspended. If you accumulate too many points in too short a time, you can have your license revoked.
A traffic violation on your record can also raise your insurance premiums. The more serious the traffic violation, the higher the hike to your premiums. The increased rate can continue for several years. While the initial fine may have seemed worth paying, the additional monetary costs from insurance should make you consider contesting the ticket.
More serious traffic violations can be misdemeanors or felonies. These violations can carry jail time in addition to license suspension or revocation. Contesting the ticket or arguing your rights in these situations may lead to a lesser sentence.