Generally, a traffic ticket is a minor offense known as an infraction, but too many tickets in a short period of time can be serious and result in the suspension of a driver's license. Drivers who receive a ticket are often given the option to attend traffic school to reduce or even eliminate fines and punishments, but a person usually only has the option of attending traffic school once a year. FindLaw's Traffic Fines and Punishment section provides information about the traffic ticket point system, fighting a traffic ticket, and when going to traffic school is a good idea.
Points on Your License
Each state has a point system that assigns a point value to each type of traffic offense. This point system allows the state's motor vehicle department to keep track of the driving records of all the drivers in the state. Generally speaking, more serious the traffic offenses are assigned higher point values. Accumulating too many points in a certain period of time can lead to the loss or suspension of your driver's license. Insurance companies also have access to this information and can raise your premiums depending on your driving record. Avoiding these points on your driver's license is one of the reasons why drivers tend to choose to go to traffic school or decide to fight the traffic ticket.
Fighting a Traffic Ticket
The first thing to think about when deciding whether or not to fight a traffic ticket is if it's worth your time and energy. If the traffic ticket will result in significantly higher car insurance premiums or a possible suspension of your license, you probably would want to take the time to fight the ticket.
The first step to take after deciding to fight a ticket is to look up the law that you're accused of violating. Once you find the law, you should break it down into the components – referred to as elements – that make up the law. If you can show that your behavior didn't meet the exact prohibitions listed in the law, you're on the right track of proving that you didn't violate the law.
Probably the most common way to have the traffic ticket dismissed is if the officer who wrote you the ticket doesn't show up. The reason the ticket will be dismissed if the officer is a no-show is because you have a constitutional right to confront your accuser. Another easy way to have your ticket dismissed is if there are major errors listed on the ticket. Some examples of major errors would be grossly misidentifying the highway or make of your car.
Hiring a Lawyer
Most traffic tickets don't require the help of attorney, even if you want to fight the ticket. But, if you have questions about your ticket or would like to learn about your legal options, you might would to consult with a traffic ticket attorney. If you've been charged with a more serious traffic offense – such as a DUI or felony hit and run – it's in your best interest to contact a criminal defense attorney.