What happens if I dont pay my traffic ticket fine
Written By: Benjamin Goldman, Esq.
The overall sentiment with traffic tickets is that they are not serious and can be ignored. Depending on the facts of your case and whether or not you have representation, it can very well just be a non-issue. However, the possible repercussions on a simple traffic ticket can be astronomical. Letting a ticket fall by the wayside can quickly turn a benign matter into a significant financial hole.
The two most common issues with leaving a ticket on the backburner are not showing up to court or not paying a fine after you’ve agreed to a guilty plea. In these scenarios, you will either receive a “Failure to Answer Summons” or “Failure to Pay Fine”. These items go on your driving record, and will result in your suspension. Driving with a suspended license, even if you weren’t aware of it, is another ticket. There is then a fee to lift the suspended license. It does not matter if you are from New York or out-of-state.
If the suspended license is not addressed and you are pulled over while driving with a suspended license, you can end up with an AUO-3. An AUO-3, or Aggravated Unlicensed Operation in the 3rd Degree, is a misdemeanor. A driver who receives a ticket for an AUO-3 is now in criminal territory and can end up with a criminal record for the rest of their life because of a traffic ticket. Obviously, the consequences increase exponentially with every level of inattention. While the ramifications seem extreme, they happen daily for a variety of reasons.
1. Forgetting to pay a fine after a guilty plea
This situation is more common than you would think. The majority of adults have a list of daily tasks and monthly bills. While the fine might be fresh in your mind after a court appearance, it might not be as important after a couple of weeks.
Fines usually have to be paid the same day in court. If the Judge has granted you time to pay, you will usually receive a few weeks to a month to complete payment. If you realize that you are over the limit, the most important thing to do is call the court. Most clerks will work with you to get the case back on track.
However, there are some courts that have a practice of sending out reminder letters. If your court has sent out several reminder letters that have been ignored, they might start a collection process. If you are in collections on a traffic ticket fine, a clerk will be limited as to what they can do for you.
2. Not having the money to pay a fine after guilty plea
There are several instances where financial issues can derail the completion of a case. For example, let’s say that you were fully prepared to pay the fine in a week but were unexpectedly let go from your job. Or, an unforeseen expense has created budget constraints the day before your appearance.
In this case the solution is almost always the same as above. A lot of courts have the option to implement payment plans. If it is the day for your appearance, you will have an opportunity to explain your situation to the Judge and ask for one. If the plea has already been entered, you can call the clerk and ask for staggered payments.
3. Losing track of your court date
Your court notice will have the date and time of your appearance on it. It is usually around a month after the ticket is answered. Depending on the court and overall backlog, it can even be months or a year down the line. In these cases, people simply forget the date they have to appear. Of course, it is hard to remember what you simply forget. By the time you do remember, you might already be suspended.
If you have received a suspension notice from DMV and remembered that you had a court date seven months ago, it is recommended that you call an attorney. Attorneys lift suspensions daily and can make the process painless.
If you haven’t been suspended, and just remembered that there is a court date floating around, you should call the court today. If you’ve lost the notice, court websites will usually have the contact information for their clerk. Call the court clerk, not the town clerk. Explain the situation and ask for a new date. If you are having problems getting a new date, call an attorney.
4. Intentionally ignoring a court date
Do not do this. The odds of your ticket getting “lost in the shuffle” are slim. The odds of your license getting suspended for a failure to answer a summons are not. Court clerks are in constant communication with DMV, and failure to answer your ticket will result in suspension. Most courts will give a grace period for one missed court date. This is not mandatory and should not be banked on. On top of suspension, Judges have the discretion to issue bench warrants. If you are willfully evading your traffic ticket summons you can end up in a whole host of unnecessary trouble. A bench warrant allows any officer to arrest you and bring you to their precinct, regardless of location.
There are a variety of reasons why people knowingly ignore their court dates. Most of them are rooted in anxiety. Attorneys have signed up for a lifetime of court and can help guide you through this process. In many cases we will go to court for you, and you will never have to step foot into the building, should you wish to not do so.
There are also a host of explanations for the other three situations. If any of the above apply to you, call a trusted traffic ticket attorney today. The Benjamin Goldman Law Office handles these matters on a daily basis and can help sort it out.