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  4. 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!

This Post Has 16 Comments

  1. Today I was pulled over for an expired registration (which i completely forgot about), and since i didn’t have my wallet, I didn’t have my license either. Which i then found out from the officer was apparently also expired, and the reason he pulled me over. I’m not normally such a blockhead, but it feels like the past few months flew by. These things I’ve been meaning to take care of but kept forgetting about. The total ticket was $417, which seems ridiculously high. My record is clean as a whistle and i was very polite. The officer was nice to me despite my offenses. Is it possible to get the ticket lowered to a more reasonable amount? I don’t think he awarded any points because the ticket doesn’t show any reference to that.

  2. Just got my first ticket of 110, because the officer said my brake light was “out”, when it wasn’t. Even have pictures showing my lights are working. Court date is for April 9th, do you think I even have a chance at winning if I go to court?

    1. Hi Jazzy:

      If the pictures are timestamped to that day, maybe. I don’t know how the court will handle what the officer might argue could possibly be an intermittent brake light issue. Maybe you get the right judge. If you already have a court date, it might be worth a shot.

  3. I got a ticket for speeding 80mph on 65mph limit in CA. The officer claimed I was driving without a license when he saw my Florida completely functional license.

    He ticketed me for `Driving without a license` and `Speeding`.

    I only work in CA and I rent in here so I can stay near work. Other than that I have no benefits from CA to justify the need for a license.

    Do I have grounds to fight this issue in court?

    1. Hi E:

      While you may have a valid license in Florida, many states have laws on the books that say you have to get your address changed within a certain amount of time for residency purposes, which would necessitate getting a new license. I don’t know what the laws are in California, but you might look into that or consult an attorney to see if you have a case.

  4. I got pulled over for going 98 on the interstate when the speed limit was 60. I’m 17 so should I be really concerned about going to court or what are some of the consequences.

    1. Hi Zay. It really depends on what options are available to you in your area. It might be worth it to look into alternatives, such as seeing if your state offers a safe driving course that would allow you to have the ticket removed from your record and prevent your insurance rate from going up. Hope this helps.

  5. I recently got a ticket a couple weeks ago for going 80 in a 55 (I had my cruise on the interstate prior to going on that road and meant to set my cruise to 55), the sheriff marked me as going 60 in a 55 instead, but the ticket is 110 dollars. I got my license when I was 17 and I am now 21 and prior to this I have kept a clean record. Is doing a driving course, or a deferred adjudication worth it to keep it off my record or should I just pay the fine? Will insurance companies know how fast I actually was going?

    1. Hi Hannah:

      I would definitely do the driving course or whatever you have to do to keep it off your record. You’re 21, which puts you in the prime age for high insurance rates anyway based on being a driver with less experience and statistically more likely to get in an accident. If you get points on the record, your rates could go up. In terms of knowing how fast you were actually going, that depends. If you have one of those devices you plug into your car’s diagnostic port for the sake of getting a good driving discount that’s offered by some insurance companies, they likely would know how fast you were going. Otherwise, they wouldn’t have a record of that. I hope this helps!

  6. I got a ticket going 70 in 55, it’s my first ticket , what should I say in court , I have no traffic record and I took the 4 hr driving course to keep any thing of my record , I usually put my cruse on but for got to that day

    1. Hi Jocelyn:

      We’re not lawyers, but the fact that you have no previous record and you took the driving course to work on avoiding the situation in the future would be a good start. Good luck!

  7. I got pulled over for the first time for being on my phone. But I was doing Postmates when a friend FaceTimed me so I answered and said “hey I’m working right now can I call you after” I hung up and see lights. My ticket for this is $198 and I feel like this is kind of ridiculous but I’m scared to go to court. I have never been before and don’t know what will happen.

    1. It’s traffic court, so you shouldn’t be too worried about the consequences if you are respectful to the court. If the officer shows up, you may not totally get out of the ticket, but you may be offered alternatives.

    1. If you’re to the point where you owe $4,000 in tickets, it might be worth the expense to hire an attorney to go over your options. That would be my advice.

      Kevin Graham

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