Don’t Ignore Your Traffic Ticket
Traffic tickets are – believe it or not – misdemeanor offenses in Georgia. That means that, unless a specific traffic law says otherwise, you could end up with up to a $1,000 fine and up to 12 months in jail. I’d say that’s something serious – and so you should not ignore it when you get a ticket.
Always read your ticket carefully – pay attention to the following:
- What charge or charges did the police officer give you?
- When is your court date?
- What courthouse do you have to go to for court?
I don’t understand my ticket – can a lawyer help me?
If you don’t understand your traffic ticket, a lawyer can definitely help you. Most lawyers will even talk with you about your case for no or little charge. Here at Your Law Firm, when you call in, you’ll be able to talk with one of our Case Management Officers (CMOs) for no charge, and they’ll run any questions by one of our lawyers, to see how we can help.
Things to look for in hiring a lawyer:
- Does the lawyer regularly go to the courthouse where your ticket is out of?
- Can the lawyer answer your questions, or if not, are they able to find out the answers for you?
- Will the lawyer or someone at their law firm answer your emails and phone calls when you need it?
- Do you feel comfortable with the lawyer and their team, as normal people?
- Are they within your price range?
Kinds of Georgia Traffic Tickets
There are a lot of laws on how traffic and drivers should operate in Georgia – and a violation of any one of them could land you with a traffic ticket.
Here are just a few examples of the kinds of traffic tickets you could get:
- Holding your cell phone while you drive (based on the “hands-free” driving law)
- Failure to maintain your lane
- Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs – or both
- Driving without car insurance
- Breaking curfew (for underage drivers)
Common Questions When You Get a Traffic Ticket
Here’s some common questions (and our two cents) for when you get a traffic ticket in Georgia:
- Will a lawyer really be able to help me?
- We think so – it doesn’t hurt to at least talk to a lawyer, to find out how they can help.
- What if I take a defensive driving course, will that help me in court?
- Sometimes! But it depends on the type of ticket and what your driving history looks like.
- What if I just pay the fine, will my ticket “go away”?
- No – if you pay the fine, you are admitting guilt to that ticket and, while you won’t have to go to court, you will have it on your driving history – which doesn’t go away.
- I am too busy – can I just ignore my traffic ticket?
- Even if you’re too busy, the risks of ignoring your traffic ticket are way too high to do that. If you don’t show up to court, your license could be suspended, meaning you can’t drive and do all the things you need to do in life. However, sometimes, a lawyer can appear for you – or at least ask the court to schedule your court appearances in a way that works with your schedule, though that’s never a guarantee.
Can a lawyer promise me an outcome for my traffic ticket?
As much as we’d like to say “if you do X, then Y will happen”, that’s just not how the law works. It’s not a coincidence that one of the favorite answers around here when you ask a question is “It Depends.”
As your lawyer – and as Your Law Firm – we can never promise an outcome or result. What we do promise is to do our best work on your case, to get you the best outcome that we can, given all the variables: what happened in your case, who your judge is, who the police officer is, what evidence we have, what evidence the prosecutor has – and so many other possible things.
What are some of the consequences of my traffic ticket?
Depending on what happens in your case (see – we love “it depends” around here!), you could be required to pay a fine, take a defensive driving class, be on probation for up to 12 months, or even do some community service.
Every case is different, but here at Your Law Firm we try and tell you as much as we can about what could happen in your case, and what steps you can take to handle your case the most optimal way possible.
What if I want to fight my traffic ticket?
If you want to fight your traffic ticket, the first thing you need is evidence. If you don’t have the evidence on your side, your odds of winning the fight are way worse.
Also, it could be that the police officer didn’t do their job correctly – police officers are human, too, and every human can make mistakes. In that case, you need the law on your side – and that’s where we can help.
You don’t have to take what the state throws at you – but you do need to have a strong defense in order to fight it out in court.
Fake Traffic Ticket News – Is it true that…?
So there’s a lot of myths circulating out on the interwebs and in social circles about traffic tickets in Georgia. This is probably because each state has their own set of laws – so that’s 50 different sets of laws that could handle the same thing 50 different ways.
Here’s some of the ones we’ve encountered – and what we think of them:
- I have to be driving to get a traffic ticket.
- Not true! You could get a traffic ticket even if you’re not pulled over by driving. It’s true that, for some traffic offenses, you would need to be proved to have been driving – but you don’t need to be caught driving for that to happen.
- It’s not worth it to try and fight my traffic ticket.
- It’s always worth it to at least show up to court – even if you’re going to admit you did whatever it is the police said you did. You never know what could happen just by showing up and asking – or hiring a lawyer and have them ask for you. Worst case would most likely be that you end up with the same outcome as if you didn’t ask. So, for us at least, we think it’s worth it to ask.
- I can ignore my traffic ticket and it will take care of itself after some time has passed.
- Actually, the opposite is true – if you ignore your ticket, the state of Georgia Department of Driver Services (those are the nice folks who issue and maintain the driver’s licenses of everyone in this state) will suspend your driver’s license, once they get notice from the court that you didn’t show up. This actually makes things worse as now, you have an extra traffic issue to deal with on top of your original ticket.
- Traffic tickets are always about paying big fines.
- Not true. We’ve seen judges move more for community service and lower fines, or simply want you to take a defensive driving course and learn how to be a safer driver. Are fines often involved? Yes. But they don’t have to be massive, depending on your case.
- If I plead “no contest” (or “nolo contendere”) my traffic ticket won’t have any negative consequences.
- This is not always the case – some traffic laws specifically say that even if you plead no contest, it’s still treated just like if you plead guilty to the charge. And the court is under no obligation to tell you if that’s the case or not – so it’s always wise to chat with a lawyer before committing to a “no contest” or “nolo contendere” plea.
Other Things to Know about Your Georgia Traffic Ticket
For out of state drivers that get pulled over in GA:
Even if a traffic ticket or citation doesn’t result in a night in jail like other criminal charges or misdemeanors in Georgia – it can still be a hassle to deal with.
Particularly if you pick a ticket up while traveling, and it’s a charge that you have to go back to court for. Thankfully, on most general traffic tickets, Georgia allows for your attorney to appear in your place to handle the ticket for court dates.
You still have to personally do any requirements of the court to close out your case – such as pay a fine, do and submit community service hours, or take a defensive driving course.
Our office has been able to help many out-of-state drivers successfully resolve their traffic tickets without coming back to court.
Now, this is always up to the judge – we have seen folks called in to court even living multiple states away – but in most instances, for traffic citations at least, Georgia courts understand the costs and complexities of interstate travel and will allow an out-of-state resident’s attorney to appear on the person’s behalf.
For under 21 year old drivers:
If you’re under 21 years old, you really need to be cautions about getting a ticket in Georgia, because many tickets that would not otherwise do so could potentially lead to your license being suspended.
This includes offenses with 4 or more points if convicted, such as reckless driving, aggressive driving, hit and run, racing, fleeing or eluding an officer, or driving 24 miles per hour or more over the speed limit.
Financial penalties for traffic violations can also be steeper for younger drivers. A single mistake may cost thousands in fines, fees, courses, and surcharges. More serious infractions could even lead to imprisonment.
Furthermore, certain violations like a super speeder ticket – given for driving significantly over the speed limit – can lead to license suspension not just in Georgia, but potentially in other states as well.
However, not all traffic tickets result in a suspended license.
Many typical moving violations generate 3 points on a person’s license, and a conviction will not necessarily suspend the license for someone under 21.
Additionally, there exists a procedure that can be used by a Georgia driver of any age once every 5 years, allowing them to potentially avoid some penalties associated with traffic tickets.
On the flip side, for super young drivers (under 18 years old), if you get a mere 4 points in a 12 month period, your license will be suspended.
So, if you’re under 21 – and definitely if you’re under 18 – and you get a Georgia traffic ticket, make sure you contact a local traffic ticket attorney who can answer any questions you may have to see whether or not you may lose your license.
So when you’re faced with a traffic ticket in Georgia, it’s essential to respond promptly and appropriately.
Ignoring the ticket can lead to further complications, including increased fines, points on your license, and even a potential warrant for your arrest.
Contesting the ticket in court may be an option, especially if you believe the ticket was issued incorrectly.
However, navigating the legal system can be complex and challenging. We always recommend that you consult with a knowledgeable traffic ticket attorney who can guide you through the process, represent your interests, and help you understand the potential consequences of the ticket on your driving record and insurance rates.
Remember, each situation is unique, and the best course of action may vary depending on the specifics of your case.
But, bottom line: don’t ignore the ticket, be proactive and get help if needed.