Got a Ticket? Here’s How You Can Reduce the Cost

In Michigan, speeding tickets can cost you big bucks. While watching the Olympic opening ceremonies, I learned an interesting bit of trivia. In Switzerland, speeding ticket fines are paid proportional to income. If you earn $100,000 a year, you’ll pay twice as much as someone who only earns $50,000. In my opinion, this is a fabulous idea. A $100 ticket will be a lot more painful for me, as a college student, to pay than it would for someone who makes six figures and works full time. It just makes sense.

This past December, I got my very own expensive traffic ticket. It was right before Christmas, and I failed to stop at a stop sign in my subdivision. I was given a ticket with three points and a hefty fine. Needless to say, that was one of the worst Christmas presents I’ve ever received.

Besides paying the ridiculous fine of $160 (don’t you think that’s a bit excessive?!), I was worried that my auto insurance policy would be out of control. Since I’m under 25, my monthly car insurance bill is already through the roof. I spend more on my lease car each month than anything else. That being said, I didn’t want one little traffic ticket to break the bank.

So how much will a speeding ticket really cost you? Well, let’s think about the costs involved. First, you’ll have to pay a fine. Second, if there are points involved, your insurance will very likely go up. Third, if you have the opportunity to nix the points by taking a driving class, it can be a somewhat costly endeavor. Next time you speed or break a traffic law, think about all the costs associated with getting a ticket. For those of you who do get the occasional ticket, however, here are some tips for reducing the overall cost.

Fight the ticket – Don’t buckle down and pay the ticket just because you feel guilty. Going to court has the potential to get your points and fines reduced, especially if you have a clean record. Yes, spending the day in court is really irritating, but it will probably pay off in the end. I fought the ticket I got in December, and it was reduced to a one-point offense. I still had to pay the fine, but I know the reduced points will hurt my insurance costs less.

Weigh alternate pleas – When you go to court, you’ll have to talk to a prosecutor. The prosecutor will take a look at your driving record, and make a judgment on whether or not to offer a plea deal. The deal might involve lowered points, a reduced fine, or other conditions. If this is acceptable to you, take it. However, you can also ask about a “deferred adjudication.” What does this mean? The prosecutor will ask you to plead guilty, and agree to meet court requirements. The requirements can include things like completing a driving course, or paying the ticket fine, or just not getting any more violations while on probation. This can be a good thing because the ticket won’t be reported to your insurance company and will stay off your record, therefore protecting you from raised insurance rates.

Stop speeding – Find an insurance company that offers programs to eliminate charges resulting from driving offenses. For example, some insurers have programs that slowly eliminate fees resulting from a first offense if you continue to be a safe driver. Getting multiple tickets over a short period of time is one of the worst things you can do for your insurance policy. Learn your lesson the first time, and stop breaking traffic laws.

Take a driving course – When I got my ticket, I received a letter from the state that gave me the option to take a safe driving course. The letter said that since I had a good driving record, taking the course would eliminate the point resulting from the ticket, and the point would not be reported to my insurance company. Since taking the class was somewhat expensive, (about $60) I decided to take my chances and not take the course, and have so far not seen an increase to my rates. There are many instances where this option would make more sense. If it’s not your first offense, you should definitely take a driving course.

For more resources on fighting speeding tickets, you should check out the National Motorists Association, an organization that is fighting to remove the profit motive from traffic laws. It’s free to join, and for a small fee you can download a guide that will teach you everything you need to know about fighting traffic tickets. Drive safe!

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