So, you got your first speeding ticket… Sucks, huh?
It seems like speeding tickets are one of those things that happen when everything else is going wrong, too.
But that doesn’t change the fact you are now a criminal and need to repay your debts to society!
Seriously though, don’t panic. While I’m absolutely judging you, I’m not mad at you, I’m just disappointed. But that’s why I’m going to help you out. You see, I believe in redemption, rehabilitation, and second chances. We won’t send you to the chopping block after your very first speeding ticket. But be warned, you’re on thin ice!
Crazy Speeding Ticket Facts (You’re Not Alone!)
My snarky comments aside, let’s get real. Getting your first speeding ticket isn’t a big deal. If this was your 5th speeding ticket in a year, ok, that’s a big deal. But most Americans eventually get a traffic ticket. There are about 200,000,000 licensed drivers in the United States. With that in mind, check out these insane facts:
- More than 100,000 people per day receive a speeding citation (that’s more than 40,000,000 speeding tickets each year!).
- About 20% of all drivers on the road will get a speeding ticket this year.
- The average cost of a speeding ticket in the United States exceeds $150, for a total of $6,232,000,000 in speeding ticket fines annually (yeah, that’s 6 BILLION).
- The average police officer issues $300,000 in speeding fines annually.
- Of all these speeding tickets, less than 5% are ever contested in court.
What To Do When You’re Being Pulled Over For Speeding (Next Time)
You’re driving down the street minding your own business when all of a sudden you notice red and blue lights moving closer to the rear of your vehicle.
“Wait, is that a cop?”
“Ah crap, it is.”
Then you hear a loud siren that starts getting louder and louder.
“No way he’s coming after me. Right?”
Within 10 seconds you realize that yes, you’re being pulled over for a traffic violation.
“Son of a…..”
This is not the time you want to freak out. Don’t slam on the brakes and don’t pull to the left or in a median. Quickly but safely pull to a safe area on the right and simply wait.
When the police officer approaches your window, just relax. Even if you feel you did nothing wrong, be respectful, and speak to him like you would anyone else.
A lot of people are very nervous around police officers. This causes people to act irrationally. For example, leave your dang seatbelt on unless you want to be accused of not wearing one. Don’t reach around in your car for your license and registration. Just chill. Sit there with your hands visible and just wait.
You have one of two choices here – You can either fess up to the cop and hope he or she has mercy by issuing a warning instead of a ticket, or you can be very careful to not say anything which could incriminate yourself (even if you admit to going a few mph over the limit, that’s still illegal so keep your mouth shut).
Keeping your mouth shut is what most lawyers would tell you to do as it gives you the best chance at winning in court. But a cop may see this as “not cooperating” and while that isn’t illegal, they probably will be less likely to show leniency and increases your odds of getting the ticket. The choice is yours.
What To Do AFTER You Receive A Speeding Ticket
Once you’ve been issued a speeding ticket, you have some choices to make.
When the 10 to 15-minute ordeal is over and the police officer drives away, you’re left with a piece of paper in your hand, the citation, explaining your fine, court date, and options for paying or contesting the speeding ticket.
After agreeing that you will appear at the courthouse within an allotted time regarding this citation, you may feel a bit confused about your options.
Now what do you do? Being a Deputy Court Clerk for nearly 10 years, let me offer you some helpful advice.
Step 1: Don’t Rush To The Courthouse Confessing your Crime
First, you don’t need to rush to the courthouse as soon as you get the ticket. Police officers don’t turn their ticket books in until their shift is over. Therefore, he will still have the court’s copy of your ticket his ticket book.
So, if you happen to run to the courthouse minutes after you were issued the ticket, more than likely, you’ll be sent away by the court clerk until a later date because the court won’t have a record of your citation.
Step 2: Take Time To Actually READ The Back Of Your Speeding Ticket
Second, take the time to read the back of the citation in order to choose the best way to keep the violation off your record. It’s amazing how many people don’t bother reading the ticket and just pay it, which also causes their insurance rates to go up due to having a speeding ticket on their driving record.
It is very important to keep traffic violations off your driving record because many states are making it difficult for drivers with violations to remain on the road. Don’t be lazy. Read the back of your ticket.
If the information on the citation sounds confusing, simply contact the courthouse by calling the phone number listed on the citation. Since many court clerks have a heavy workload, you should call at least three times and ask questions to three different clerks. You’ll find that you won’t receive complete information if you don’t make at least 3 contacts.
Step 3: What To Do If You Feel You Are Not Guilty Of The Speeding Ticket
Third, if you decide that you were not guilty of the offense and you want your day in court to express your opinion and disagreement with the ticket, this is your option.
“But I didn’t do nuthin’!”
Fair enough. Cops make mistakes, and plenty of people who get their first speeding ticket feel like they did nothing wrong. It happens all the time.
Fortunately, you live in the good ol’ US of A where the constitution demands we are allowed to face our accuser and defend ourselves.
However, be aware that people who fight their speeding tickets are rarely found not guilty for the offense. This is especially true in small towns.
You may, at best, get a reduction in the fine and then offered Deferred Adjudication or Defensive Driving to prevent the traffic violation from appearing on your record. d
But no matter what amount your fine is set at, you should be aware that there are court costs, which are really state fees, added to each fine amount.
So even if the Judge sets your fine for $1.00 you’ll still pay at least a $50.00 payment because state fees will be included.
Whatever option you choose to handle your violations don’t forget to follow through because there is little mercy offered to those who choose to ignore their order from the court.
However, if something happens and you’ve missed the due date of your fine or your court date, simply find out what the Judge’s name is and send him a letter as soon as you can with a detailed explanation for your non-compliance. Even a Judge can be understanding.
If you’re serious about fighting your speeding ticket, check out these 8 tips for getting out of a traffic ticket.
Pro Tip: Just Take Traffic School Or Defensive Driving & Be Done With It
If you truly feel you are not guilty and want to fight your speeding ticket in court out of principle, I get it. But even in that case, since this is your first speeding ticket, the fastest and most pain free way to move on with your life is to take traffic school or defensive driving.
The vast majority of states allow you to take an online traffic school or defensive driving course to completely dismiss the traffic ticket and remove it from your driving record. Heck, you might even get an insurance discount after taking the course, saving you money in the long run.
Instructions for taking traffic school are normally found on the back of the ticket. If it is your first speeding ticket and you otherwise have a clean driving record, you will most likely be able to elect for traffic school without ever having to go to court. It’s all handled online or through the mail.
Best Online Traffic School & Defensive Driving Courses For Ticket Dismissal
There are a lot of online traffic schools and defensive driving courses to choose from, but here are the 4 best courses you can sign up for. These are all fast, easy, and cheap. Just sign up, get it done, and move on with your life. If you’re lucky, this will be the last time you need to take a traffic school, but most of us get at least a few tickets in our lifetime.
Do Not Ignore Your Speeding Ticket!
Just keep the ordeal in perspective and handle your citation responsibly just as you would a light bill or telephone bill. Don’t ignore it because it won’t go away.
Although you may be able to live with a candle instead of a light bulb or email instead of using a telephone, the negative effect of not taking care of a citation issued to you is an arrest warrant. If you’re issued an arrest warrant for your citation, the fine more than doubles and you are no longer afforded many of the options initially offered to you.
Therefore, if you receive a citation, immediately, put it somewhere you can remember it and in the forefront of your mind until it’s taken care of. This action will prevent further frustrations and annoyances when handling a traffic citation within the Justice System.