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What Happens if You Don’t Pay a Ticket?
5 Consequences You Need to Know

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Collen Clark Published by Collen Clark

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As an attorney with years of experience in traffic law, I've seen firsthand the consequences of not paying a ticket.

If left unpaid or uncontested in court, the unpaid ticket can imply much steeper repercussions than what was initially imposed by the fine.

In this article, I will explain what happens in case of a traffic violation and why it's essential to address the issue promptly.

Quick Summary

  • Failing to pay the initial traffic ticket fines and assessment before a designated grace period elapses could result in your case being sent to collections.
  • Not only can an unpaid ticket or unlawful U-turn result in problems with your driver's license but your vehicle registration could also be negatively affected.
  • If you neglect to pay your ticket, you will appear in traffic court based on the court date indicated on your citation or request a hearing before its due date. It could have profound implications.

5 Consequences of Not Paying a Traffic Ticket

A police officer writing a ticket to a driver

Failure to pay your traffic or parking ticket, appear in court on the designated date listed on the ticket, or request a court hearing by its deadline can result in various consequences. 

Here are some things that could happen if you don't pay for your traffic or parking ticket on time.

1. Higher Traffic Ticket Fines

Most courts have determined that 90 days is more than adequate time for traffic violators to decide how to proceed and take action. 

However, should the grace period elapse without a response from you, the government will initially add a civil assessment of up to $300 to what you owe, resulting in higher fines.

2. Driver's License Can Be Suspended

Not paying a speeding ticket or choosing not to appear in court for the citation could result in your driver's license being suspended, causing you to lose driving privileges. 

This would only compound an already inconvenient situation, mainly if financial difficulties were the primary factor behind neglecting to pay the parking ticket.

3. Problems with Car Registration Renewals

Not only can unpaid traffic citations or even an illegal U-turn create issues with your driver's license, but it could also negatively impact your vehicle's registration.

If your situation escalates to this degree and you find yourself in a bind, experienced legal professionals such as ticket fighters or attorneys can assist.

4. Charges for Misdemeanor

As time passes and unpaid tickets accumulate, they could eventually result in misdemeanor charges

If you neglect to appear in court as requested by the summons, then a Failure To Appear (FTA) charge will likely be brought against you for breaking your written promise that was signed when the traffic ticket was initially issued.

5. Arrest

Ignoring your unpaid parking tickets can lead to dire consequences: an arrest warrant

This is usually not the case for forgetful speeders, but if you have multiple points on your record or any criminal history and are found in contempt of court, a judge could very well make that happen. If this occurs, you must contact legal counsel immediately.

What Choices Do You Have When You Receive a Speeding Ticket?

A woman getting a speeding ticket in a carThe choices that you have when you receive a speeding ticket include a payment plan, attending traffic school, community service, or even fighting the ticket.

However, it is important never to disregard a traffic ticket; unpaid tickets can lead to paying costly late fees, facing license suspension, or even an arrest warrant. 

If you cannot pay the fine in full right away, there are other options worth considering what solutions might be available for you.

Traffic School

Traffic school is a great choice for drivers looking to avoid costly traffic tickets and insurance rate increases. Once traffic school participants pay the course fee, participants can save money since they don't need to cover their ticket fine. 

It also keeps them from having demerit points on their record, which could lead to hefty insurance hikes if not taken care of immediately.

Fine Reductions via Payment Plans or Community Service

Don't be afraid to ask the judge for options such as a decrease in your fine, more time to pay off the ticket, or exchanging community service instead of paying. 

In addition, many places provide payment plans if you can't cover your fines upfront yet still won't make monthly payments.

Also Read: How Many Tickets Will Suspend Your License In California?

Fight The Speeding Tickets

Battling a traffic ticket is worth your while if you can present a strong case. Depending on the severity of the infraction, a judge or jury will hear the case in court [1].

"It's important to know that some traffic offenses, such as reckless driving and some speeding violations, are criminal offenses."
- Alan E. Jones, Attorney


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How Long Do You Have to Pay for Traffic Tickets?

The amount of time you have to pay for traffic tickets is 30 days.

Can I Pay for My Ticket and Not Go to Court?

Yes, you can pay for your ticket and not go to court. You can easily pay the fine by sending a check through the mail or paying tickets in person at the Justice Court, as indicated on your citation and summons.

How Long Do Parking Tickets Stay on Your Driving Record?

The amount of time parking tickets stay on your driving record is three years. This could drastically affect your automobile insurance premiums and your ability to keep driving.

Do You Want to Fight The Ticket?

The consequences of a conviction for a traffic violation could be severe, leaving you with a record and possibly even send you to jail. 

Speaking with a qualified criminal defense attorney as soon as possible is essential.

The attorneys at Schmidt & Clark, LLP have successfully represented clients charged with traffic violations and are available for a free consultation. Contact them today and make sure your case is handled responsibly.