How to Handle a Traffic ViolationNovember 29, 2012
You’ve received a ticket for a traffic violation, and if this is your first one you may feel confused and overwhelmed about what to do next. Should you dispute the ticket? Should you pay the fine immediately? What will happen to your car insurance rates? These are just a few of the questions that might pass through your mind; fortunately, dealing with a traffic violation is generally quite straightforward.
When you Receive a Ticket
Most tickets are given when a driver is pulled over by a law enforcement officer, although some may be given as the result of a collision. If you are pulled over by the police, it is important to cooperate with the officer. Make sure to:
- Pull over as soon as the officer indicates that you should
- Provide the officer with your driver’s licence, proof of auto insurance and vehicle permit
- Cooperate if asked to step out of the vehicle
- If requested, take a breathalyzer test
Before giving you a written ticket, the officer will inform you of what violation of the Highway Traffic Act you are being charged with. Remember that if you sign the ticket you are not accepting guilt but merely acknowledging receipt of the ticket itself. If you feel that the ticket is undeserved, you can a way to dispute it through appropriate legal channels. Do not try to argue with the officer at the scene as it will likely not get you out of the ticket, and will only make the experience more frustrating.
Your Next Step and Types of Tickets
The type of ticket you receive will help to determine your next step. If you are charged with a minor infraction such as speeding or running a red light, you can usually deal with the violation on your own. However, if you are charged with a more serious offence such as driving while impaired or reckless driving, you may want to consider talking to an attorney. In the case of a serious offence, you will receive a document requiring you to appear in court to respond to the charges – an attorney can help you prepare for this process.
Before you decide what to do, it’s important to consider whether or not the ticket was deserved. In many cases, drivers know that they were in a hurry and were going too fast or made a poor judgment call. When considering your guilt, try to be objective and honest. If you recognize that the ticket was deserved, the best thing to do is to pay the fine quickly and accept the responsibility.
If you truly believe that you are not guilty of the offence in question, you can go to court and dispute the ticket. Disputing a ticket successfully requires some evidence to support your case. Look for any witnesses at the scene who might be willing to speak on your behalf and make note of any circumstances in the area that might have contributed to your receiving the ticket in error. As well, take the time to take photos and jot down specific notes – these will help your case when you take it to court.
Insurance Premiums Implications
How your traffic ticket will impact your insurance rates depends on the type of violation and how your insurance company rates for that type of ticket. Most minor traffic violations may result in relatively small increases in your rates, while serious violations can cause very serious increases. If this is not your first ticket, you may experience a larger increase especially if the last ticket is still chargeable. Traffic convictions stay on your driving record for three years from the date of conviction, not the date that you were charged.
The best way to find out how the ticket will impact your insurance rate is to call your insurance company directly. . Remember that your insurance company will find out about the ticket most likely on renewal; calling to ask about the rate increase will not change anything. Knowing ahead of time what the rate increase will be can also afford you time to shop around for a few car insurance quotes. Because every insurance company rates differently, a ticket does not mean that you won’t be able to get a better deal on car insurance. Get insurance quotes and start saving today!
Getting a traffic ticket is usually an unpleasant situation, but there is a simple process you can follow to get through it. Whether you accept responsibility for the ticket or dispute it, it’s important to keep calm and follow the legal process. Remember that traffic violations are not uncommon and the extra charge on your auto insurance will only last for a specific period of time. Your insurance professional can help you to understand the effect on your rates and how long the increase will last. Knowing what to expect ahead of time will help you deal with the stress, and navigate the process smoothly.