Challenging a traffic ticket in court is usually beneficial. Yet it is not always an easy choice to make between challenging your traffic ticket or paying it. Primarily because paying a traffic ticket is an admission of guilt and could potentially hurt your driving record. Some insurance companies will even increase your insurance coverage cost if you get several traffic tickets.
On the other hand, choosing to contest a traffic ticket can cost you time and money. For this reason, it may be in your best interest to contact an attorney in Tampa to advise you of your legal options.
Should I Challenge the Ticket in Court?
If you believe you were wrongly given a traffic ticket or think you have a chance to win the case by taking it to court, it may be a good idea to challenge it. Listed below are a couple of options to consider.
Error on the Ticket
If your ticket has a significant error, you can argue that the entire ticket is incorrect. Minor errors will most likely not be considered, but mistakes such as your registration number, the location of the accident, or misrepresenting your insurance details could get your case dismissed.
Mistake of Fact
Mistake of fact may be a possibility for you to have your case thrown out. A mistake of fact can operate as a defense as long as it is a reasonable argument. For example, you can argue that it was snowing while you left the house, and unaware to you, the snow covered your plates. Similarly, if a child crossing sign was dirty, covered, or fallen, you could argue that you didn't see the sign. Since you couldn't see the sign, you didn't know to slow down.
What Are the Civil Traffic Ticket Options?
There are a couple of options you could choose when you're deciding how to proceed with your traffic ticket.
Pay the Traffic Ticket
By paying the civil penalty, you are pleading guilty to the violation stated on the traffic ticket you were issued. Additionally, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles will assess and update the points on your driving record and send the new information to your car insurance company.
As per Florida state law, you have 30 days to pay your fine to the Clerk of Court in the County where you received your ticket. Failure to do so will require you to pay a hefty fine, and you may have your driver's license revoked.
Enroll in a Traffic School
If you're guilty of the crime stated on your ticket but don't want to pay a fine, you can enroll in traffic school for an introductory driver improvement course. By selecting this option, the Florida Department of Motor Vehicles will not assess your driving points, and your car insurance will not be increased or canceled.
Starting on the date you paid your fine and elected to go to traffic school, each county gives you anywhere from 60 to 120 days to complete your course and give a copy of your Traffic School Certificate to the Clerk of Court. You're required to present a certificate of course completion to the clerk's office afterwards, failure to do so will require you to pay a hefty fine.
It's important to note that going to traffic school isn't always an option. You can only take one course in 12 months and only five courses in a lifetime. Lastly, you cannot choose the traffic school option if the traffic violation is related to any of the following:
- Driver's license points
- Faulty vehicle registration
- Expired insurance coverage
Request a Lesser Plea
If you have excellent negotiating skills, consider requesting a lesser plea. This may be a possibility if it's your first traffic violation in Florida. First off, you should admit you are wrong, show initiative for wanting to do better, and ask the judge for flexibility on the civil penalty.
If the deadline has passed since you were issued the traffic ticket, and you have not chosen any of the above options, you will be required to pay the fine in full with no choice to extend the timeframe. It is best to choose before the deadline, even if you choose to pay your ticket so you will not be penalized.
Dolman Law Group Can Help
It is best to consider all of your options that were listed above when debating whether to pay or contest a traffic ticket. If you are not sure what to do, contact the Dolman Law Group to help you make an informed decision. Do not hesitate, contact us today for a free consultation to discuss your legal options.