Even though I've written hundreds of articles on the subject of traffic tickets, and what to do if you get a Florida Uniform Traffic Citation; I know there are still a lot of you out there who are unsure how to handle the ticket you just received.
It's OK. Take a breath. I'm here to help.
The big question in your mind (besides "why did he have to pull ME over?") after you receive a Florida Uniform Traffic Citation, should be how to minimize the damages. In order to do that, you must look at your options and weigh the pros and cons of each. No problem. That's what I'm here for.
When you get a ticket, you have three options. I've detailed them many times, but briefly, they are to pay the ticket and get points, pay the ticket and elect traffic school, or fight the ticket (by yourself or by hiring an attorney).
So let's look at those options in more detail.
The first option involves paying the ticket. It's quick, easy, and in most cases, can be done over the internet with a credit card. What you must know about this option, is that if the Florida Uniform Traffic Citation you just received is one that carries points, and you pay it, you will get the points. Duh!
What you need to know about whether you should pay the ticket, all boils down to whether or not it carries points. Now there are some exceptions to this, such as people who drive for a living and have a CDL (commercial driver's license), because they can't have any tickets on their record. Hint: If you needed to look at the language after the letters CDL to know what it stood for, you obviously don't have one and don't need to worry about the exceptions.
A good rule of thumb for most people, is if it doesn't carry points, paying it will usually be your least expensive option in the long run and probably the option you should choose. Tickets that don't carry points are usually non-moving violations. Things like not wearing your seat belt, equipment violations and not carrying the proper documentation.
However, all bets are off if the ticket carries points. Points are one of the biggest factors your insurance company will use to determine your rates. More points usually equates to higher premiums. Avoid points at all cost!!!
The next option I mentioned is to pay the ticket and elect traffic school. This option also carries with it some things you need to know, starting with the cost. You pay full price for the ticket and then you have to pay for the school. So from a financial standpoint, this option requires you to come "out of pocket" the most in the beginning. This option is also the most time consuming, because although you can pay for the ticket and elect school easily, you must attend and complete the school.
Even a 4 hour online school is deceptive, because you have to sign up, and take a test at the end, both of which do not count towards your 4 hours. If you plan on attending a school in person, you have to factor in the travel time as well.
I don't care if you're retired because you just hit the lotto, the thought of 4-5 hours being spent hearing about traffic rules has a price that you must consider.
The benefit of attending traffic school is that if you haven't been in the past 12 months, or more than 5 times in your lifetime, you will not get points on your license. You will, however, get a mark on your record showing that you were pulled over and that you elected traffic school. This can be used against you if you get another ticket, and I'll tell you how if you keep reading.
The final option for you is to fight your ticket. This can be done yourself or by hiring a traffic attorney to appear on your behalf. You can read here to find out if I think you should fight it yourself or hire an attorney, but you might be able to tell which side I'm leaning by my asking you if you generally perform your own home repairs or hire someone who does it every day and generally has more experience.
No, I don't just advocate that people should hire a traffic attorney because I am one, if that were the case, I'd tell you to hire me, and I didn't do that (although if you would like to, that would be great also). If you want guidance on which one to hire, that's a different article (you can start here).
My reasons for encouraging people to fight their Florida Uniform Traffic Citations boils down to the fact that in almost every case, it's in their best interest. First, and most important, fighting a ticket is the only way to get it dismissed. Getting a ticket dismissed is the only way for it to disappear completely. If you choose to attend traffic school, get another ticket and fight it, a judge will see that on your record and will know that you've had at least two tickets. Keep that in mind the next time you think about electing school. It stays on your record forever.
Now, could fighting your ticket end up costing you more money than just paying it and taking the points? It could, but it's highly unlikely.
When you fight a ticket, the judge has discretion to exceed the amount you could have paid when you first received it. This is rarely done and shouldn't be a reason to scare you into not fighting your ticket.
As much as everyone hates to get pulled over and given a Florida Uniform Traffic Citation, it doesn't have to be the nightmare you are envisioning. With some planning and research, you might be able to walk away and pay nothing.
If you have a question, I'm happy to answer it and try and help you out. You can email me HERE or call 800-489-4125.
If you want more information, you can download my FREE eBook "OMG! I just got a traffic ticket."