So many of my clients come running in my office asking if I can help them with a traffic ticket that's due at the last minute (Yes, I can by the way), that I often overlook the fact that there are plenty of people who want to do the right thing when they get a traffic ticket, but are unsure what the "right thing" is.
No problem. If you are one of those people who likes to be prepared and plan ahead so you can make the best decision and not have a decision made for you, then this blog post is for you.
One of the nice things (perhaps the only nice thing) about getting a traffic ticket, is that you do not have to make a quick decision on what you should do. In Florida, most counties give you at least 30 days to let the court know how you are going to proceed. This is plenty of time, even if you want to think about it for a while.
There's no real benefit to rushing your decision. The clerk doesn't give you a gold star for alerting them to what you plan to do within the first 5 days and she doesn't punish you if you take your full allotment of time. So relax and move at your own pace.
The most important thing to remember, however, is you MUST DO SOMETHING. Again, I repeat, the single most important thing you can do when you get a traffic ticket is to take some kind of action within the time given. As I stated earlier, in most cases, you are given 30 days, which is more than enough time. Please don't think the clerk will be sympathetic to any excuse should you miss the deadline. It's just too much time for you to act like the time got away from you. (And you should know, missing the deadline will result in additional fines and in many cases, an automatic suspension of your driver's license)
So, if you know that the most important thing to do is not miss the deadline, let's talk about your options and what you should do with your 30 days.
You only have three options when you get a traffic ticket. It's fairly simple. You can pay it (and get points), you can pay it and elect traffic school (in which case you'll have to sit through the school and pay for the school), or you can fight it.
That's it. You really don't have any more options than those listed above. And, if you've seen my video posted below titled "Your three options when you get a traffic ticket, and why two of them stink," it spells out clearly what I think your best option is.
However, please don't take my word for it. This is your time to research all your options and decide which is best for you. That's the beauty of the amount of time you have. It wasn't like the officer who pulled you over told you to decide on the spot and you panicked and chose the wrong option.
I know I've been making light of your options, but to be fair, it is a little more complicated than I'm making it out to be. Before you can decide your best option, you must determine what type of ticket you have.
Is it a moving violation that is going to affect your insurance and your license? Or is it a minor violation that just carries with it a nominal fee and no increase in your insurance.
The truth is, deciding what to do after you get a traffic ticket is the easy part. It's knowing the best course of action to take after you decide that can get complicated.
If it is a moving violation, and you decide to fight your ticket (good move, by the way), should you fight it alone or with an attorney? Do you know what's involved with fighting a traffic ticket yourself? If you decide to hire an attorney, would you even know which questions to ask?
The answers to these questions and more can all be found in my blog. I've put together videos, eBooks, articles and just about anything you would need to help you decide what's best for you. So sit back and enjoy the fact that you didn't wait until the last minute.
If you feel like cheating and not consuming all the information available on my website, no worries, you can always call me at 866-374-8355. I've been helping people with their traffic-related problems since 1995, and I'd love to help you as well.