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Responding to a traffic summons is crucial to avoid additional penalties. First, read the summons carefully for instructions on how to proceed. Typically, you'll have the option to either pay the fine or contest the ticket in court. If you choose to challenge it, mark the appropriate box on the summons and send it back before the deadline. It's important to act promptly; a study by the Bureau of Justice Statistics found that about 20% of civil trials are related to traffic offenses, indicating that many choose to contest their tickets.
If you're unsure about the best course of action, consider consulting with a traffic attorney who can provide guidance based on your specific situation. Remember, each decision carries potential consequences: paying the fine usually means admitting guilt and could lead to points on your license, while going to court offers a chance to fight the charge but requires time and possibly legal fees. Weigh these factors carefully to make an informed decision.
How you respond to a traffic summons depends on a variety of factors. Once you know whether you want to plead not guilty or guilty to the infraction, you can find out what options your area offers. Most often, these options might include appearing in court or paying a fine. The nature of the offense might significantly limit your options, however, which typically is the case with severe offenses such as driving under the influence. No matter what method you choose, it’s important to take action in the allotted time to avoid additional consequences.
Before you can decide how to respond to your traffic summons, you must decide whether you want to plead not guilty or guilty. Pleading not guilty means you believe you weren’t committing the offense for which the officer cited you. Pleading guilty means you accept you were committing that offense.
Many areas allow a variety of options for responding to a traffic summons, all of which depend on whether you want to plead not guilty or guilty. If you plan to plead not guilty, for example, you could appear before the judge and receive a date for a hearing. If you plan to plead guilty, you could simply pay your fine in one of the ways the court offers. Depending on where you live, you could pay the ticket in person, by mail, or even online. Typically, your options for responding to a traffic summons and possibly paying your fine will be printed on the ticket the officer issues you.
Depending on the seriousness of the traffic summons, you might not have many choices on how or when to respond. For example, a typical speeding ticket usually comes with options, like those listed above. A more serious offense, such as driving under the influence or DUI, could present only one or two options. You could be arrested and taken to jail immediately if a law enforcement officer pulls you over and finds that you’re driving under the influence. Your area’s laws might allow you to post bail or be released after spending one night in jail, or they might require you to stay in jail until your court appearance.
Regardless of how you choose to respond to the traffic summons, make sure you respond. Ignoring a traffic ticket doesn’t make it go away. Instead, you can incur additional consequences. Those consequences depend on where you received the ticket, and sometimes on the nature of the offense. Generally, though, if you fail to respond to a traffic summons you can expect consequences ranging from having your driver’s license suspended or revoked to serving time in jail.