Getting pulled over and receiving your first speeding ticket can take an emotional toll.
From the flashing lights in your rearview mirror to the paper ticket in your hand, the entire process can be overwhelming.
Thankfully, it doesn’t have to be.
Knowing what to expect for your first speeding ticket comes can help alleviate many of the butterflies and the apprehension that often accompanies first-timers.
If a law enforcement officer pulls you over, it is crucial to remain calm. Once you have safely pulled off to the side of the road, roll your window down and turn off the vehicle’s engine. When speaking to the officer, keep your tone even and your language respectful.
It is essential to communicate with the law enforcement officer in a respectful manner. Answer their questions as accurately as possible. If you do not agree with the officer, refrain from arguing. It is okay to ask for clarification and to politely disagree, however, do not allow the conversation or yourself to escalate.
If the law enforcement officer asks you to do something, do it. If they have decided to give you a speeding ticket, they may ask you to sign a paper copy. Even if you disagree with their decision or what they have written on the ticket, it is in your best interest to sign it and follow up with your disagreement at a later time.
Signing the ticket does not mean that you agree with the information, only an acknowledgment that you were pulled over and received it.
Review Your Ticket
Your copy of the speeding ticket should contain the following information:
- Your name and address
- Information about the vehicle you were driving
- The location of the alleged offense
- The law enforcement officer’s name
- The posted speed limit where the alleged offense occurred
- The speed you were going when the officer pulled you over
- A preliminary court date or fine amount for the alleged offense
- Instructions on what to do in response to the ticket
Don’t Ignore It
Ignoring a speeding ticket is never a good idea. Not responding in the specified amount of time could result in increased consequences. These addition consequences could include additional points to your license, increased fines, suspension of your license, or a warrant for your arrest.
Understand the Potential Consequences
Receiving your first speeding ticket is not the end of your driving career. However, it does carry some consequences. It will be on your driving record, which is made available to potential employers, insurance companies, and credit agencies. It will likely cost you money in fines and possible court fees or legal representation, and it can raise your car insurance.
The most serious potential consequence of speeding is the danger it presents to both you and others within your sphere of influence. According to the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA), in 2016, approximately 27% of traffic fatalities involved a speeding driver.
Understand Your Options
When you receive a speeding ticket, you have several options on how to respond. These options will vary depending on the state in which the ticket was administered and your particular driving record.
Pay the Fine
If there is not a mandatory court appearance on the ticket, you should be able to pay the fine. Most states allow payments to be made online, by mail, or in person. Typically you will have 30 to 90 days to pay the ticket.
If you choose not to pay for the ticket, you will need to fight it in court. Going to court can be expensive and time-consuming. If you aren’t confident that you can win your case, you may want to consider simply paying the ticket.
Fight the Ticket in Court
You can fight the ticket in court if you choose to attend your scheduled court appearance, where you have the chance to argue your case before a judge. The opposing party will need to prove that you were speeding to enforce the ticket. Once both sides have had the opportunity to present their case, the judge will make a final decision.
If you are facing a significant increase in car insurance rates, potential points on your driver’s license, or other serious consequences as a result of the speeding ticket, fighting the ticket in court could be worth the time and expense it would cost.
While it is not necessary to have legal representation to fight a speeding ticket in court, it could be beneficial. Legal representation, especially legal representation that specializes in traffic law, can assist in gathering evidence to prove your case, as well as help alleviate the stress of appearing in court.
Go to Traffic School
Some states provide the option for recipients of speeding tickets to attend traffic school to reduce or eliminate a fine. Typically the schooling must be completed within a specified time frame, and be completed by an approved school. If you are interested in this option, contact your courthouse for options.
Check Your Car Insurance
Once your first speeding ticket goes on your driving record, your car insurance rates could increase. This typically does not happen immediately, and most insurance companies do not issue drastic rate increases for one ticket. However, if you have other things on your driving record, such as an accident, your rates could increase.
Even one speeding ticket could prevent you from being eligible to receive special discounts through your insurance company. Check your particular insurance policy if you are unsure about your specific guidelines.
A month or two after you have received the speeding ticket, consider checking your policy rates to see if they have increased. Some insurance companies may wait until you renew your policy before they raise your rates. Of course, you can always call your insurance company and explain the situation to get the most accurate and up-to-date information on your particular policy.
Unlike many other circumstances that can occur on the road, speeding tickets are entirely avoidable.
Consider adopting the following practices in your daily driving routine:
- Pay attention to posted speed limits
- Don’t exceed speed limits, even if other drivers do
- Slow down!
- Regularly monitor your rate of speed
- Practice safe driving habits
- Pass other drivers only when it is safe and legal
Learn from Your Mistake
Although receiving your first speeding ticket is never pleasant, using it as a learning opportunity is the best way to approach the whole experience. If you were speeding as the law enforcement officer alleged, learn from it and use the process to improve your future driving habits and add to your overall knowledge of the legal system.