Getting a traffic ticket can really mess up your day, but it can it can mess up a lot more than just your day. The effects that can result from simply paying your traffic citation can not only have an immediate impact, but it can also continue to rear its ugly head for years after you get it and think that is has been resolved by paying the fine. Most people know that getting a traffic ticket can raise your insurance rates, but by how much and for how long are variables that the average person is not going to know. That’s because these are subjectively based upon the policies of the individual insurance companies and the number of points that are assessed against your license. The number of points you receive is dependent upon the traffic violation you were charged with. A misdemeanor offense is not going to result in the same points that a criminal traffic violation will, and when it comes to speeding, the points can vary depending upon by how much you were exceeding the speeding limit.
Some estimates indicate that insurance rates can go up by hundreds of dollars per year for three or four years. This can be a tremendous burden for someone who cannot afford the traffic ticket fine to begin with, much less the other penalties that result from it. Of course, the consequences of just paying the ticket are a fine, court costs, and the previously mentioned insurance rate hikes, but sometimes there are other costs that you don’t anticipate when you make the decision to pay the ticket. These ancillary costs can be wide-ranging depending upon the course of action you choose to take. One such cost that may not occur to you at the time of the traffic ticket is the fact that paying the ticket is an admission of guilt and will show up on your driving record…forever. This can be devastating if you are applying for a job. The obvious jobs that a poor driving record many effect are those that involve driving such as a truck driver or a cab driver. Even if the amount of time you spend driving is brief such as acting as a valet or running errands, your job could still be impacted. If your employer requires you to drive for work and they are responsible for insuring the vehicle that you drive for this purpose, the cost of insuring you may be prohibitive for that employer.
Something to consider is that there was a time when you showed up for a job interview and you sold yourself based upon past work history and how you presented yourself. With the increased demand for a good, steady job, especially one with benefits, it is a heck of a lot harder to get your foot in the door much less to actually land the job. The ever-increasing pervasiveness of the internet into our lives makes it that much harder. Even if you are very cautious about what you post to social media sites, there are an unlimited number of websites that will provide prospective employers, or anyone else who is willing to pay a fee, with your background information. This, of course, includes your driving record. Many interested parties may be able to find this information without going to one of these websites. Consider how easy it can be to find out just about any information about someone online these days. Regardless of whether that information is gleaned through social media or other for-profit websites, the suspect details about other people can have devastating consequences. There are some who may think that in lieu of paying the traffic ticket they can plead no contest or nolo contendre. Although this is true, it can still have a negative impact upon your license. Choosing this course of action may give you the opportunity to plead to a lesser offense, but you will still have to make a court appearance and will probably have to still pay a fine and court costs. Additionally, even a reduced plea will probably still impact your insurance and driving record.
Bear in mind that if you do decide to pay your traffic ticket outright, you only have 30 days from the date of the citation to do so. If you traffic ticket doesn’t state a date as to when it needs to be paid, contact the Clerk of Court’s office in the county where the ticket was issued to make sure that you don’t miss the pay-by date. You can either mail the payment to the Clerk of Court in the issuing county or in some counties, you can avoid the headache and time lost by paying your traffic ticket online through the county’s website. Other methods of acceptable payment include personal check, money order, cash, or credit card. Another option that you may consider, depending upon the violation with which you have been charged, is attending traffic school. This will keep points from showing up on your driver’s license and help you dodge an insurance rate increase, but as with paying the ticket outright, this is not something that I recommend. If you elect to attend a Basic Driver Improvement Course, you need to make sure that you understand the ramifications of this choice. You will still have to pay the fine and court costs, plus you will also have to pay for the cost of the class. You also need to remember that you can only choose this option a limited number of times, so if you are a habitual traffic offender, this may not be a choice that is available to you, but it is an option for some who are ticketed for committing traffic violations.
These are all things to consider for the average driver who gets a traffic ticket, but the considerations are a bit different for those drivers who drive for a living that I mentioned earlier. If you have a Florida CDL (commercial driver’s license), you are required to inform your employer once you are convicted of the penalty. This includes admission of guilt by paying the traffic ticket. You also must inform the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles if you receive a conviction in another jurisdiction. This applies to either another county or out of state. Unfortunately, those drivers who carry a Class A, B, or C driver’s license do not have the option of enrolling in a driver’s improvement class if they receive a moving violation. According to the FL DHSMV website, the license classes are as follows:
CLASS A: Trucks or truck combinations weighing with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of 26,001 lbs. or more, provided towed vehicle is more than 10,000 lbs.
CLASS B: Straight trucks weighing 26,001 lbs. Gross Vehicle Weight Rating or more.
CLASS C: Vehicles transporting placardable amounts of hazardous materials, or vehicles designed to transport more than 15 persons including the driver with a Gross Vehicle Weight Rating of less than 26,001 lbs.
Almost without exception, it is always within your best interests to please not guilty and fight your traffic ticket, and it is also almost without exception in your best interests to hire a good traffic ticket attorney to do the fighting for you. Notice that I used the words good traffic ticket attorney. Not every attorney who is willing to represent you in court to defend your traffic violation is an expert in the field of traffic law. We, however, have many years of successful experience in the traffic court arena so if you would like to fight your traffic ticket, and I highly recommend that you do, give us a call at 954-967-9888 for a free consultation.