Traffic Ticket: Now What?
What are your options once you get a traffic ticket? Here we will discuss the three choices a person has in that scenario, which are paying the fine, plea in abeyance, and requesting a trial.
What can I do if I get a ticket?
There are a few things you can do when you get a ticket. Let’s say you got a speeding ticket and the fine is about $150. With that ticket, you can do one of the following:
- Pay the fine
- Plea in abeyance
- Request a trial
If you simply pay the fine because you are guilty, the ticket stays on your record.
If you complete the plea in abeyance (pay the fine, complete traffic school and drive for 6 months with no further tickets), the ticket will be expunged from your record. Receiving a ticket during the 6 months after driving school will result in the original $150 ticket to remain on your record.
Instead of a plea in abeyance and if you feel you are not guilty, you can request a trial. Most of the time the trial will be tried by a judge, instead of a jury. A bench trial is a trial by a judge instead of a jury. This is beneficial to traffic violations that are less serious because a bench trial is usually faster and cheaper. Also, a judge is well immersed and understanding of the law. A jury sometimes can make decisions based on emotion instead of being objective. In a bench trial, you will present your case to the judge, and the officer who gave you the ticket will give testimony and then the judge will decide. Sometimes the judge will make a decision immediately, whether you are guilty or not guilty. The judge is present from start to finish which can also speed up the process.
What does a ticket look like on your record?
If you have or had a driver’s license at some point in your life, you have a driving record. If someone gets a traffic ticket, that ticket stays on their driving record forever. The only way to have a ticket removed from your record is by Expungement. Expungement is a court-ordered process with an end result of the violation being removed or erased from your record; legally it is not there anymore. The expungement process can be lengthy and you cannot have any pending criminal charges when you file for expungement. Once charged with a violation, you must wait for a certain amount of time (the amount varies from state to state). You can then file for expungement after that time. After you file the expungement paperwork, the paperwork will then be transferred to the county clerk’s office to be examined. If there are no objections, then the violation(s) will be expunged. If there are objections found, there will be a court hearing that you must attend.
Some common problems with traffic tickets could be:
- Not paying the ticket on time;
- Not cooperating with peace officers;
- Not showing up to a bench trial in court; or
- Not showing respect to the officers or legal personnel.
In court, high respect should be shown toward legal personnel and the judge/jury. If you are pulled over and given a warning instead of a ticket, be respectful towards the officer. The easiest way to avoid the hassle is to not get a ticket in the first place. When we get behind the wheel, we incur a great amount of responsibility from a valid license to keeping within the speed limit. There is a lot of liability for someone who drives on public roads; if they are negligent with the law and hurt someone else, they are responsible for those damages. Of course, they are innocent until proven guilty (the judge/jury finds them guilty without finding a reasonable doubt). To avoid paying a fine, entering a plea in abeyance, or requesting a trail, do your best to be a safe driver.
If the person who got the ticket does not cooperate, they are only making it worse for themselves. Many Americans receive traffic tickets at least once during their life, and it is best to cooperate. Cooperation is important especially if the person pleads not guilty or no contest and desires to fight the ticket.
Traffic Ticket: Now What?
Plea in Abeyance
McMullin Legal Group