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4 Steps to Take after Getting a Traffic Ticket

Getting cited for a traffic violation can be a scary experience, especially if this is the first time it is happening to you. It is important that you not get caught up in the anxiety of the moment. This is something that happens to early everyone at least once and you do have rights and responsibilities that go along with it.

With that in mind, here are four things you need to do once a ticket has been issued:

#1 Decide Whether to Pay the Fine or Go to Court

Thinking back to the point where you got pulled over. Based on how you were driving at the time, were you surprised or just upset? If you know you were in violation of the law, your first response might be to simply pay the ticket. In many instances, however, it is in your best interest to fight the ticket in court.

Fighting a ticket doesn’t mean you think you’re innocent and you are not lying if you plead not guilty. The terms not guilty and innocent havedifferent meaningsin the eyes of the law.

#2 Prepare for Your Court Date

Be certain that you have the date correct and put it on your calendar. Make arrangements to get the time off you need to appear. In most places, the law prohibits an employer from denying you time off for this purpose.

#3 Build Your Defense

The time between the date of your citation and your court date is when you get to put together your case so you can argue your side. Use it wisely. If you think you might have been wrongly cited, brainstorm reasons why and, whenever possible, gather evidence. You also have the right to examine all evidence against you, so contact the court and ask for any documents related to the case, including the police report.

#4 Make Your Case to the Judge or Magistrate

On your day in court, stick to the facts and try to avoid volunteering information. Be as brief as possible when answering questions. In many cases, you will be offered a plea agreement if you plead guilty to a lesser charge (one that carries a fine but no increase to your insurance). It is advisable to agree to this arrangement if it is offered.

Above all else, it is important for you to understand thatyou have rightswhen dealing with the police and those rights follow you into court. Don’t be intimidated by the process or the people involved in it. If you feel that the finding in your case is in error, you have the right to appeal and can ask a court clerk or other official for guidance in taking the further steps necessary to discharge the citation.

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