How to Handle a Traffic Citation

Traffic citations are relatively minor offenses, but they will still cost you valuable time and money. Here, the legal professionals at The Law Offices of Douglas T. Sachse detail the options you have when presented with a traffic citation.

Most drivers either have, or will, receive a traffic citation at some point in their lives. Traffic citations are given for moving violations, such as speeding, failing to stop at a stop sign, or running a red light, among a slew of other offenses. They are not as serious as driving under the influence or reckless driving, and therefore are handled in traffic, and not criminal, court. That being said, traffic citations are still given for legal infractions, and will cost you time and court fees, and may cause you to be penalized with higher insurance rates, driving record points and fines. There are several options for handling a traffic citation, as detailed below:

  1. Pay the Ticket – When you receive a traffic citation, you always have the option to simply pay the ticket and be done with it. While this may be the quickest way to resolve the issue, you will likely pay the maximum fine, receive the maximum points on your driving record and likely face higher insurance rates from your insurance provider. This is the least ideal option, and should only be done if you feel you have no way of contesting the ticket.
  2. Traffic School – Many states allow drivers who incur a traffic citation to attend “defensive driving” or “driver safety” school, also known as traffic school. In Maryland, this driver improvement program (DIP) lasts four to eight hours, and can be taken either voluntarily or upon a court order. By taking the program, you may be able to prevent points on your record, lower your insurance rate or prevent your license from being suspended if you have received many citations or points. In some instances, you may no longer have to pay the citation fine, although you will have to pay a fee for the course.
  3. Contest your Ticket – Going to court will cost you a court fee, but may get you out of paying the citation fee or receiving any points on your driving record. There are one of two ideal outcomes in court: the judge finds you not guilty, or the officer does not show up to court (this often happens, especially in the summer and around holidays). One of the difficulties of going to court is that it is in session during business hours, which means taking off school or work.
  4. Hire an Attorney – An attorney well-versed in traffic law can help you beat your ticket, and represent you in any legal proceedings. This can ultimately save you time, stress, higher insurance costs and points on your record. If you are a first-time offender, an attorney is even more likely to get the citation dropped.

There are many options to consider if receive a traffic citation. For more information, or to speak with an experienced attorney, contact the Law Offices of Douglas T. Sachse today.

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