What Happens If You Can’t Afford to Pay a Traffic Ticket?

traffic ticket being issued

Can I just pay my ticket and not go to court?

A traffic citation isn’t good news for your auto insurance, but they aren’t the worst thing that could happen to a person. You receive a ticket; you pay the fine prior to your court date; it’s over.  With the exception it goes on your driving record and causes your insurance to increase. Basically, you’ve paid a traffic bail when you paid the ticket. 

What is traffic ticket bail? There are times where a traffic bail is more than just paying for a ticket, such as when you have several unpaid traffic tickets. Or if you have an outstanding warrant for another offense that is discovered when you’re pulled over or a traffic stop. At that point, you’ll be arrested and taken to jail and await arraignment before a judge. 

A citing officer in the State of Virginia has the right to deny ticketing a driver where traffic bail is possible. There are several reasons why traffic cops denied bail such as the driver was exhibiting reckless driving, failed breathalyzer testing, has warrant for arrest on other charges, etc. 

In the state of Virginia, if you are cited for speeding and wish to pay the ticket without appearing before the court, you can do so. This will be considered prepaying your traffic bail, otherwise known as a traffic fine, which is pleading guilty to the charge of speeding. 

However, a defense attorney would recommend not to plead guilty and pay the traffic bail, but to appear before the court instead. Why?  It is possible that by choosing to argue the sentencing, you may be able to get a lower fine, aka lower traffic bail. On the other hand, if you are arrested for reckless driving, this is considered a misdemeanor and you are required to appear before the court. There, you will hear the charges against you and asked how you want to plead. The judge will then state your sentence and the amount of your bail for traffic ticket.

What happens if I don’t pay a traffic ticket on time?

The Department of Motor Vehicle will suspend your driver’s license automatically for any unpaid traffic bail or traffic court fines and traffic courts costs within thirty days of being found guilty. When that 30th day falls on a holiday, a weekend or the court clerk office is closed, it does not fall in your favor. 

Those days are not considered to be a day you can’t pay your traffic bail because it is clearly stated the traffic bail must be paid WITHIN that thirty day period. In other words, you should be aware of any holidays, weekends, or other days that the court clerk office may be closed and pay your traffic bail prior to those days. 

Should you not get your traffic bail, fines and court costs paid prior to that thirtieth you will be notified by the Virginia Department of Motor Vehicles that your driving privileges are suspended. To reinstate your driving privileges, you will need to pay an additional reinstatement fee, the court cost, traffic fine, and traffic bail in full first.  You could receive a citation for driving with a suspended drivers license. 

Do you have to appear in court for traffic violation?

Not if you plan to plead guilty and prepay the traffic bail amount the citation is being charged.  If you don’t prepay your traffic bail and fail to appear before the court on the day stated on the citation, your driving privileges will be revoked by the judge and will not be renewed until the traffic bail, court costs, and fines are paid in full. 

What does bail amount mean on a traffic ticket?

The bail amount stated on each traffic citation mean this is the amount to be paid in full before the assigned court date. If you pay that amount, you’re admitting to guilty of the incident stated by the ticketing officer. 

As we stated earlier, a traffic ticket is relatively minor in comparison to other criminal offenses. Yes, a traffic violation is a criminal offense.  Those “minor” incidents can end up with serious long term implications beyond those basic traffic bail bonds that include: 

  • Demerit points
  • Fines
  • Court costs
  • Possible jail time

And if you decide to fight the traffic charge, you could end up lawyer costs as well. With criminal attorney representation, the traffic bail amount could be lowered, even dismissed, offsetting the cost of the attorney.  

frustrated car owner with a ticket

Is it worth it to fight a traffic ticket?

There are two reasons that fighting a speeding ticket in the State of Virginia may be worthwhile:

  • The traffic offense would raise your DMV Demerit Point to license suspension level. 
  • The traffic office could significantly increase your insurance premiums.

For those two reasons, many ticketed Virginia drivers will decide to fight the charges and appear in court. However, as in any case before the courts, the specifics of the case can have heavy impact on the outcome. So, if there is any uncertainty, speaking to a defense attorney with specialization in traffic tickets is recommended. Call 434-237-2245 today for your traffic ticket bail needs in Halifax, VA, Danville, VA, and Chatham, VA.