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Unfortunately, getting a traffic ticket is not that uncommon of an experience. If this is your first one, however, you likely have questions and concerns about what happens after the officer pulls you over and issues you one.
Each state, county and city makes its own laws and regulations regarding traffic tickets, so the following information is general only. The post-ticket procedures may differ in your jurisdiction.
Paying Your Ticket
Most jurisdictions allow you to pay your ticket’s fine online or by snail mail if it’s for a relatively minor offense such as speeding. Check your ticket to see if it lists a fine amount and, if so, what you need to do to pay it. While paying your ticket will save you the hassle of going to court, however, it’s never a good idea to do so. Why? Because most people don’t realize that by paying your ticket, you plead guilty to the charge(s) it represents.
By admitting guilt, you wind up with a traffic conviction on your record that could come back to haunt you. Most states have a point system whereby points are assessed against your driver’s license whenever you are convicted of a traffic violation. The number of points can range from one to 12 depending on the type and severity of the violation.
If you accumulate too many points in a certain amount of time, usually somewhere between nine and 18 months, the state administratively suspends your license. Getting it reinstated can cost you a lot of time and money.
Going to Court
If you wish to dispute your ticket, you will need to go to court and plead not guilty to the charge(s). You will also need to go to court if the charge(s) on your ticket require a mandatory court appearance. Your ticket should show this if, instead of a fine amount, it lists the court where you need to go to and the date and time you need to appear.
Your first appearance will be what’s called an arraignment. The judge will tell you the charges against you and ask you how you wish to plead. When you plead not guilty, this means you want the judge to hear the reasons why you believe he or she should either dismiss the charges or acquit you of them. The judge may well set a new court date for this trial.
Hiring a Lawyer
Despite the fact that most people don’t take traffic tickets too seriously, you would do
well to hire an experienced local traffic ticket lawyer to represent you whenever you get one. The legal fees you pay may well be offset by, or even less than, the fines, court costs and even the increased auto insurance premiums you will pay by receiving a conviction. Consider a lawyer from The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt if you are looking for a speeding ticket lawyer in Emporia, Va.