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Exclusive: Why you shouldn’t pay your ticket ahead of time.

Curtis Alan Sluder

I decided to start answering basic questions that folk ask online about traffic and other matters. I actually enjoy helping people out with traffic matters, and I hope my explanations below are helpful.

Question: “If you pay a ticket before your court date do you still have go?”

The answer to this is straight forward, but before paying the ticket there are several things you should consider.

Payable vs. Non-payable tickets

First we have to distinguish between payable and non payable tickets. If the ticket is payable, then, no- you dont have to go to court. If you can not pay the ticket, then you must appear in court OR hire a lawyer to represent you. So, the short answer to this question is “NO”. Tickets that are listed as “Infractions” are payable, and the citation will usually have instructions and the total price. If your citation doesnt have the total price, its not payable. (Regardless of whether you can or not, you shouldn’t pay tickets early- Ill tell you why below)

Non payable tickets require you to appear in court OR hire a lawyer to represent you. A Lawyer can appear for a defendant in many different types of cases, if the Judge allows it. Fortunately, when distance and circumstances make it hard to get to court, most of our judges will allow our firm to handle matters “by waiver” or, with a written waiver of your right to be in court, and authorization for our lawyers to act on your behalf.

Examples of non-payable tickets are speeding more than 15 over the limit- 80 in a 60 zone, for example. Reckless driving would not be payable, and would usually require the defenand to appear in court. Driving with a revoked or suspended license would not be payable. However, an attorney can usually appear “by waiver” for persons charged with either offense.

Infractions and Accident Tickets

Infractions are low-level offenses punishable by just a fine. Speeding 15 mph or less over the speed limit is a common infraction. Failure to stop for a stop light is another. Paying these early result in insurance increases and license points. Absolutely do not pay off any ticket that resulted from an automobile accident until you speak with a lawyer. This can result in financial liability that your insurance company may not think they have to pay. Plus, why pay it when there is a good chance of getting it dismissed? With our advice, there is an excellent chance of just that.

Why you should never pay off a ticket early, (without asking a lawyer first):

When you make payment for a payable ticket, you are pleading guilty (responsible) to the offense as it is written. This means, if you pay a 70 in a 55 zone ticket, you just pled responsible by doing so. The conviction will then be electronically sent to the DMV and Inter-State databases. DMV will then assess 3 points to the persons driving record. When the persons insurance renews, the insurance company will check the driving record, see the conviction, and raise the insurance rates as allowed by law. In the case of a ticket like my example, the insurance company would be allowed to raise rates by 45% for the next three years. If the person pays $500 every six months for insurance, they will now pay $725 every 6 months. Thats an increase of $225 times six, or $1350 increase overall.

“Fix it Tickets”

Tickets for things such as registration or inspection fall into a category I call “fix it” tickets. These also include things such as a window tint violation. If you go to court and show you have “fixed” the problem, the DA will often dismis the charge. This saves you from any points for the violations either on your driving record or through your insurance company.

With attorney fees as low as $100-150, why not call and see what our lawyers can do for you? The phone call is always free, and if we cant help you or you really should just pay the ticket, we will tell you. (For example- its not worth fighting an adult seat belt charge in most cases. Its cheaper to just pay it than hire a lawyer and also run the risk of having to pay it as well.- We tell clients if that is all they are charged with, it doesnt make sense to hire a lawyer in mot cases.

Tickets Resulting from Crashes

Accident tickets, such as failure to yeild, failure to stop at a stop sign, unsafe movement violation, for example can often be dismissed once the insursnce company has taken care of damages. This is important, because if you have an at-fault accident, your insurance company is likely to raise your rate as a result of the accident if it costs more than $1800 to repair other parties. They would also have the ability to raise your rates due to the ticket, which, really, is adding insult to injury. In most cases, we can get tickets as a result of a minor accident dismissed after a period of time has elapsed.

The Bottom line: Dont pay your ticket without asking our qualified, experienced lawyers first