When you get a traffic ticket, you can’t ignore it and hope it will go away. The officer will probably tell you that you have to appear in court, but you can simply pay the fine through the mail (or online) before the due date. How do you know what is better for you? Here are some things to consider.

Should You Plead No Contest?

Typically, on the ticket, there is an option where you can send in the money and plead “no contest.” Basically, when you do this, you are saying that you are guilty and just want to get through the process with as little effort as possible. This takes care of the ticket, but it will go on your driving record. How that affects you depends on a number of factors, such as how many other tickets you’ve had in the past, the severity of the violation and the actual charges. If you send in the fine, you don’t have to appear in court. For some violations, you may have to appear in court. Check with the court clerk if in doubt.

Some jurisdictions offer traffic school as an option to avoid having the ticket go on your record. You should check this option out as soon as you get the ticket. You may need to attend the class and show proof to the court before the court date. You want to get your certificate of completion in time to avoid penalties. Show your certificate to your insurance company, too. You may get a discount.

Should You Dispute the Ticket?

If you believe you got the ticket unfairly or if the ticket might cause you to get more points on your record than you can afford, you can dispute the ticket. If you plan to dispute the ticket, you will need to appear in court. You should also plan to have evidence that supports your contention that you shouldn’t have gotten the ticket. Some people simply hope that the officer won’t show up that day in court, but that is not a good strategy. You want to be prepared to demonstrate the unfairness of the ticket. If you were speeding, but didn’t see the sign because it was hidden, this could show the judge that you don’t deserve to pay a fine.

Do You Need an Attorney?

If you plan to dispute your traffic ticket, you may want to discuss your case with a speeding ticket lawyer in Abingdon, VA who can help you take the right steps to be more successful.

Thanks to The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt for their insight into criminal law and what happens after getting a speeding ticket.