This has probably happened to you.
You’re driving along on a street, freeway, or highway. Maybe you’re talking with one of your passengers, or listening to the radio, or deep in thought. Or perhaps you’re in a hurry to get where you need to be as quickly as possible.
Then it happens. You see red and blue flashing lights in your rear-view mirror (or even worse, you blow by a cop car and watch as it pulls out behind you or turns around to follow you). Your stomach drops and your stress level rises. And as you pull your car over to the side of the road, you know that your day has been ruined.
And the fun doesn’t stop after the officer writes you a traffic ticket. Then you’re faced with shelling out a substantial amount of money to pay the fine. You might get “points” placed on your driver’s license. It’s even possible that you have to appear in court.
But the worst part? Your insurance company finds out about it. And suddenly, you notice a bump in your auto insurance rates. That increase usually stays there for at least two or three years.
Is there anything you can do to break this horrifying pattern?
In most cases, yes.
While every state, county, and city is different in how it views traffic tickets, there is usually a way for you to take steps to make sure that the infraction does not appear on your driving record. And if that doesn’t happen, your auto insurance company will never know that you got a ticket — and your rates won’t go up. Here are some suggestions:
- Take a driver’s safety course. Also called a defensive driving course, these classes are often offered to first-time offenders who get a traffic ticket. It’s usually between six and eight hours of instruction which can be completed in a classroom, using your DVD player, or online. These courses can cost as little as $35 to $40 in some states, and upon passing the end-of-course test, you’ll receive a certificate which will wipe the ticket off your record.
- Ask for deferred adjudication. This involves taking a day to appear in court, but it is often worth it. Depending on the state, you may have the right to ask for deferred adjudication, which is simply another term for a probationary period. Here’s the basic arrangement: you pay a fee and/or the fine amount and refrain from getting another traffic ticket for a certain period of time (usually around six months), and the violation will be erased before it is put on your driving record.
- Talk with the prosecutor or judge. If neither of these options are available, it might behoove you to contact the judge or the prosecutor which oversees these cases. Simply ask, “Is there any way I can keep this off my driving record?” You may be offered court-ordered supervision, community service, or some other alternative punishment in exchange for expunging the ticket.
Even the safest drivers get traffic tickets. So it’s important to know how to keep a ticket off your record and prevent your auto insurance rates from increasing because of one bad day.