Paying vs. Disputing Tickets

When a driver violates a traffic rule, law enforcement may issue a ticket. The consequences of receiving a ticket can vary, depending on the severity of the violation that occurred.

The issuance of a ticket may result in the driver being ordered to pay a fine, or it may come with an even more severe consequence, such as a driver’s license suspension. After a ticket has been issued, it is important for the driver to complete all steps in the process for paying the penalty or facing the consequences as soon as possible to avoid additional citations.

However, a driver who feels like their ticket was issued unfairly and that no traffic laws were broken may decide to dispute the ticket. Before attempting to fight the validity of a ticket, drivers should review the process for disputing a ticket to learn the responsibilities of the driver during a hearing. To find out more about the process for paying traffic tickets, steps to disputing a ticket and the consequences of pursuing a court hearing or paying at ticket, review the following information.

How to Pay a Traffic Ticket

When a traffic ticket is issued to a driver, it will likely provide all the information needed to review the process of paying it and completing the steps to adhere to ordered consequences. A traffic ticket can usually be paid in person, by mail or online.

A traffic ticket should usually be paid through the administrative county office in the county in which it was issued. Drivers who prefer to pay their traffic tickets in person should first contact the county office where violations were issued to seek further instruction on the payment methods accepted, the hours of operation for the county office and the location to visit to pay ticket violations.

Many court systems allow for the convenience of paying traffic ticket fees online, so drivers can avoid the hassle of sending in payments or visiting their county offices. To complete the online traffic ticket payment process, the driver must first gather information to identify the ticket.

The online system may ask the user to provide the citation number, the court system involved or the driver’s last name and date of birth. Additionally, a driver may be able to look up a violation for online payment through his or her driver’s license number. Once the violation record is pulled, the driver can usually use a credit card, a debit card or an electronic check to complete the payment. 

To pay a traffic ticket by mail, a driver should refer to the ticket issued and follow the instructions. The mailing address for the county office may be different than the physical address for the office location. The mailing address and acceptable payment methods for a traffic violation should be confirmed on the ticket given by law enforcement before attempting to pay by mail.

Note: When a driver pays a traffic ticket, he or she is admitting guilt to the offense. No hearing or dispute can be filed after payment.

Steps to Disputing a Traffic Ticket

Each traffic ticket that is issued to a driver likely includes information about disputing the ticket within the county court system. For minor violations, attending the court date is not necessary unless the driver wants to dispute the ticket. Severe violations, such as a Driving Under the Influence (DUI), may require the driver to attend the court hearing on the date provided on the ticket.

Failure to appear for a mandatory court order can lead to additional consequences for a driver, including jail time, license suspension or probation. After the case is tried, the judge must decide the penalties for the driver, if convicted. 

If a driver decides to dispute a traffic violation, he or she will need to attend the court hearing on the date provided on the traffic ticket and prove the issuance of a violation was unnecessary through evidence and explanation.

When disputing a ticket, a driver can hire legal counsel to assist in the process. Ticket attorneys can help drivers to prove their innocence, since they have more familiarity with traffic laws. Drivers convicted of severe violations, such as reckless driving or a DUI, should hire attorneys to assist with legal counsel during their hearings.

The consequences for serious violations can be severe, so the help of an attorney to explain the driver’s side of the case may be helpful when attempting to dispute a charge. The driver is responsible for paying the cost of hiring legal counsel, no matter the outcome of the case.

Understand the Consequences of a Traffic Ticket and Disputing the Ticket

When a driver is issued a traffic ticket or violation, he or she may face different consequences, depending on the severity of the law that was violated. Some of the consequences of a traffic ticket may include:

  • Payment of a fine or penalty.
  • Suspension of a driver’s license or a vehicle registration.
  • The order to complete traffic school.
  • Jail time or probation.

When a driver is convicted of a traffic violation, the conviction is also reported on the driver’s record. The violation will stay on the driver’s record for a certain period of time, depending on the severity of the violation.

Severe violations, like a DUI or a hit-and-run offense, stay on a driver’s record for 10 years. Other traffic convictions that are less severe, such as speeding or failure to obey a traffic light, can stay on a driver’s record for three years.

When a driver is convicted of committing a violation, the conviction also adds penalty points to the driver’s record. More information on violations and the points associated with them is available on the DMV website. An accumulation of points on a record can result in additional consequences, including a driver’s license suspension.

Disputing a traffic ticket through the court system may be beneficial for a driver who has the evidence to support his or her case. If the driver can prove no law was violated, the charges may be dropped, and the driver will not be subject to the consequences of the ticket or the addition of the violation to his or her driving record.

If a driver is still held liable for a traffic ticket after disputing the ticket through a court hearing, he or she will be required to pay the fines ordered by the judge or face additional consequences, if ruled in the court. Additionally, the driver who disputed the ticket may be required to pay legal fees if he or she hired legal representation for the court hearing.