While getting a traffic ticket can easily ruin your day, you may quickly end up forgetting about the ticket or put off paying the fine or going to court to contest the citation. However, you should never assume that a traffic ticket will simply “go away” if you ignore it. If you fail to pay a fine for a traffic violation or attend the court hearing to fight the ticket, you may end up facing far more serious consequences than the original $50 or $100 fine.
What Are Your Options When You Get a Ticket?
When you receive a traffic ticket after being stopped by a police officer, the ticket should provide important information such as the statute that you are being cited for violating, the amount of the fine being imposed, a court date for you to appear to contest the ticket or when you are required to appear in court (such as for reckless driving), or instruction for requesting a court hearing if you want one.
After being ticketed, you have two options for dealing with the ticket:
- You can pay the fine listed on the ticket. The ticket should provide you with instructions on how to pay the fine. Paying a traffic ticket upfront means that you are pleading guilty to the traffic violation. Unless your violation constitutes a criminal offense, you will not have to appear in court if you decide to simply pay the ticket.
- You can appear in court to fight the ticket. If you contest the citation, you will be afforded a court hearing. You have the right to hire an attorney to represent you at the hearing, but unless your offense constitutes a crime under New Jersey law, you may not have the option of having an attorney appointed for you free of charge if you cannot afford legal counsel. At the hearing, you may be able to negotiate with the citing officer or the county prosecutor for a reduced charge and/or fine in exchange for pleading guilty. If you believe you are innocent of the offense or believe the state cannot prove beyond a reasonable doubt that you committed the offense, you will have a hearing where you and the state can present evidence and witnesses to a magistrate, who will issue a verdict. If the magistrate judge finds you guilty, you will have to pay the fine.
Consequences of Ignoring a Traffic Ticket
If you do not pay the ticket, appear in court on the date listed on the ticket, or request a court hearing by a certain deadline, you may face various consequences such as:
- Accruing interest and penalties on your original fine. After enough time has passed, the balance that you owe may be sent to collections, or the state may garnish your wages or bank account.
- Your vehicle may be put on a list to be “booted,” which means that a wheel clamp will be placed on your vehicle and prevent it from being driven. The boot will only be released once you have paid all sums that you owe. Alternatively, your car may be towed and placed into an impoundment lot.
- If you were required to appear in court, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest for failure to appear.
- Your driver’s license may be suspended.
Contact an Experienced Moorestown Criminal Defense Lawyer About Your Traffic Violation Charges in New Jersey
Were you arrested or charged with a traffic violation in New Jersey? The consequences of a conviction could be severe, leaving you with a record and possibly even sending you to jail. That is why you need to speak with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible about your case. The attorneys at the Law Offices of Michele Finizio have successfully represented clients charged with traffic violations in Evesham Township, Mount Laurel, Willingboro, Pemberton, and throughout New Jersey. Call (609) 230-0374 or fill out the online contact form to schedule a consultation with a member of our legal team. We have an office conveniently located at 9 E. Main St., Moorestown, NJ 08057, as well as offices located in Cherry Hill.
The articles on this blog are for informative purposes only and are no substitute for legal advice or an attorney-client relationship. If you are seeking legal advice, please contact our law firm directly.