First heartbreak. First job interview. First speeding ticket. There’s a first time for everything. Sometimes we know how to handle these firsts, and sometimes we don’t. Direct Auto & Life Insurance can help you navigate your first speeding ticket and understand what to do when you get a speeding ticket the next time (but let’s hope that doesn’t happen, okay?).
- You’re not alone.
Driving faster than the posted speed limit is one of the most common (and dangerous) traffic violations in America.
According to the U.S. Bureau of Justice Statistics, about 112,000 people are issued speeding tickets each day. That’s roughly 41 million speeding tickets per year and nearly one per second!
- You can prepare yourself.
Getting pulled over doesn’t have to be a stressful experience. It’s a pretty standard process. These tips can help you, the officer, and other drivers stay safe.
When you get pulled over for speeding, the officer will take your license and registration back to his or her vehicle and return with your ticket. Be respectful and calm. Never try to argue with the officer or persuade him or her not to ticket you.
The officer will ask you to sign a paper copy of the ticket. Signing it doesn’t mean you agree with the ticket. It is merely an acknowledgment that you were pulled over and received it. Once you sign the ticket, the officer will hand you a paper copy. The copy will have several important pieces of information on it:
- your contact and personal information,
- your vehicle information,
- the location of your offense,
- the police officer’s name,
- the posted speed limit,
- the speed you were going when the officer pulled you over, and
- a preliminary court date for the offense.
The officer will most likely tell you how to handle the ticket. Otherwise, there will be clear instructions written on your copy. Read them carefully.
- Speeding tickets have consequences.
A first-time speeding ticket could:
- damage your driving record,
- cost you money in fines and court fees, and
- raise your car insurance rates.
Assuming an average cost of $150 per ticket, drivers will pay just over $6,000,000,000 in speeding ticket fees this year alone. That’s a lot of zeros.
But speeding isn’t just expensive—it can be deadly. Data from the National Highway Traffic Safety Administration (NHTSA) shows that roughly 27% of traffic fatalities in 2016 happened in crashes involving at least one speeding driver.
- You can’t ignore a speeding ticket.
It might be tempting to throw your ticket on the kitchen table and hope it goes away on its own, but trust us. It won’t. If you wait too long to handle your ticket, the consequences could get more serious.
Ignore a speeding ticket and your state might:
- add points to your license,
- increase your fines,
- suspend your license, or
- have you arrested!
In Florida, for example, you have 30 days to address your ticket. Depending on your driving record, your options could include going to traffic school, paying a fine, or requesting a court appearance. Do nothing, and the state could suspend your license. If you’re stopped by the police while driving with a suspended license, you could even be thrown in jail!
The bottom line? The quicker you address a speeding ticket, the less of a headache it will be.
- You have options.
You can respond to a speeding ticket in a number of ways. Your options will depend on your state and your driving record. Generally speaking, you can choose to pay a fine, fight the ticket in court, or complete a traffic school course.
Option 1: Pay the ticket’s fine.
Your ticket may specify that you have a mandatory court appearance. If it doesn’t, you can simply pay the ticket fine online, by mail, or in person any time before its due date. Refer to the specific instructions on your ticket. In most states, you have 30 to 90 days to pay.
Why pay the ticket? Fighting a ticket in court can be time-consuming, expensive, and confusing. If you are not confident in your chances of getting the ticket dismissed, you may wish to save yourself the hassle.
Option 2: Fight the ticket in court.
If you choose to attend your scheduled court appearance, you will have the opportunity to argue your case before a judge. A prosecutor will likewise need to prove you were speeding to enforce the ticket. Once both sides present their case, the judge will render a decision on your speeding violation.
If you’d like to fight your ticket in court, but feel overwhelmed, consider hiring a traffic ticket attorney to help you.
Why fight the ticket in court? If you’re facing the potential for points on your driver’s license, a significant increase in your car insurance rates, or other serious consequences, it may be worth the time and effort to fight the ticket in court.
Option 3: Complete traffic school.
In many states, you can reduce your speeding ticket fine or get the violation removed from your driving record if you enroll in and complete an approved traffic school course.
In Tennessee, for example, a judge can dismiss your traffic ticket if you complete a defensive driving course. The ticket won’t impact your driving record or insurance rate.
- Your car insurance rate might increase.
If your first speeding ticket goes on your driving record, your car insurance rates could increase, but the increase likely won’t be drastic or immediate. However, if you accumulate multiple speeding tickets in a short time, you may face significantly higher insurance rates and could get dropped from your coverage.
A speeding ticket could also make you miss out on special discounts, like Direct Auto’s Safe Driving Discount.
- You can prevent speeding tickets.
Speeding tickets are 100% preventable! Work to avoid a speeding ticket in the future by:
- slowing down,
- paying attention to posted speed limits and not exceeding them,
- practicing safe and defensive driving,
- monitoring your speedometer,
- keeping an eye out for speed traps, and
- passing other drivers with care.
At Direct Auto & Life Insurance, we welcome all drivers to apply for coverage, including those who have received speeding tickets. Call 1-877-GO-DIRECT (1-877-463-4732), click to get a quote online, or come into a Direct Auto location near you today to learn more.