Knowing what to do when you receive a traffic violation can be a little confusing and overwhelming, especially if it is your first ticket. Should you dispute the ticket? Should you pay the fine immediately? What will happen to your insurance rates? These are just a few of the questions that might pass through your mind; fortunately, dealing with a traffic violation is generally quite straightforward.
When you Receive a Ticket
Most tickets are given when a driver is pulled over by a law enforcement officer, although some may be given as the result of a collision. When you are pulled over by the police, it is important to cooperate with the officer. Be sure to:
• Pull over as soon as the officer indicates that you should
• Provide the officer with your driver’s licence, proof of auto insurance and vehicle permit
• Cooperate if asked to step out of the vehicle
• If requested, take a breathalyzer test
The officer will inform you of what violation of the Highway Traffic Act you are being charged with and give you a written ticket. Remember that if you sign the ticket you are not accepting guilt but merely acknowledging receipt of the ticket itself. You can still dispute it if you feel it is undeserved. Do not argue with the officer at the scene; there is an appropriate means to fight a ticket and you are better off following legal channels.
The Type of Ticket and the Next Step
The type of ticket you receive will help to determine your next step. If you are charged with a minor infraction such as speeding or running a red light, you can usually deal with the violation on your own. If you are charged with a more serious offence such as driving while impaired or reckless driving, you should consider talking to an attorney. In the case of a serious offence, you will receive a document requiring you to appear in court to respond to the charges – an attorney can help you prepare for this process.
Before you decide what to do, it’s important to consider whether or not the ticket was deserved. In many cases drivers know that they were in a hurry and were going too fast or made a poor judgment call. If you agree that the ticket was deserved then the best thing to do is to pay the fine quickly and accept the responsibility. Try to be objective and honest when considering your guilt.
If you truly believe that you are not guilty of the offence in question, you can go to court and dispute the ticket. Disputing a ticket successfully requires some evidence to support your case. Look for any witnesses at the scene who might be willing to speak on your behalf and make note of any circumstances in the area that might have contributed to your receiving the ticket in error. Photos and notes will help your case when you take it to court.
Insurance Implications of a Traffic Violation
How your traffic ticket will impact your insurance rates depends on the type of violation and how your insurance company rates for that type of ticket. Most minor traffic violations may result in relatively small increases in your rates, while serious violations can cause very serious increases. If this is not your first ticket, you may experience a larger increase especially if the last ticket is still chargeable. Traffic convictions stay on your driving record for three years from the date of conviction, not the date that you were charged.
Call your insurance company and ask what the increase will be. Remember that your insurance company will find out about the ticket most likely on renewal; calling to ask about the rate increase will not change anything. Knowing ahead of time what the rate increase will be can also afford you time to shop around for a few car insurance quotes. Because every insurance company rates differently, a ticket does not mean that you’re out of luck on finding a better deal. Get an insurance quote and start saving today!
Getting a traffic ticket is usually an unpleasant situation, but there is a simple process you can follow to get through it. Whether you accept responsibility for the ticket or dispute it, it’s important to keep calm and follow the legal process. Remember that traffic violations are not uncommon and the extra charge on your auto insurance will only last for a specific period of time. Your insurance professional can help you to understand the effect on your rates and how long the increase will last.