You’ve received a ticket for a traffic violation, and if this is your first one you may feel confused and overwhelmed about what to do next. Should you dispute the ticket? Should you pay the fine immediately? What will happen to your car insurance rates? These are just a few of the questions that might pass through your mind; fortunately, dealing with a traffic violation is generally quite straightforward.
When You Receive a Ticket
Most tickets are given when a driver is pulled over by a law enforcement officer, although some may be given as the result of a collision. If you are pulled over by the police, it is important to co-operate with the officer:
- When you see the red lights (or siren) of a police vehicle behind you, pull over to the right side of the road towards the curb and come to a stop.
- Remain seated in your vehicle unless the officer advises otherwise.
- Be prepared to provide the officer your driver's licence, vehicle registration, and proof of insurance document. Tell the officer where these documents are located before you reach for them.
- If you're stopped when it's dark, turn on your interior light.
- If you have passengers with you tell them stay seated, remain quiet, and co-operate with any instructions that the officer may give.
- If you don't understand why you’ve been pulled over, ask the officer to spend some extra time explaining why you're receiving the ticket and what to do with it.
- If you receive a ticket, accept it. Accepting the ticket does not mean you're guilty.
If you feel that the ticket is undeserved, you can contest it in court through the appropriate legal channels. Do not try to argue with the officer at the scene as it will likely not get you out of the ticket, and, will only make the experience more frustrating.
Your Next Step and Types of Tickets
The type of ticket you receive will help to determine your next step. If you get a ticket for something like speeding or running a red light, for example, the options available to you are usually on the back of the ticket. Typically, these include:
- Pleading guilty by paying the fine.
- Meeting with a prosecutor to come to an agreement about the offence.
- Pleading not guilty and go to traffic court to dispute the charge.
If you are charged with a more serious offence, however, such as driving while impaired or reckless driving, you’ll receive a summons to appear in court. For these types of offences, you’ll want to seek legal advice.
Auto Insurance Premiums Implications
How a traffic ticket will impact your insurance rates depends on the type of violation and how your insurance company rates for that type of ticket. Minor traffic violations, for example, may result in relatively small increases in your rates, while serious violations can cause serious increases. Here are some examples:
- Minor infractions could result in a 10% increase. That's for things like failing to signal, failing to yield, as well as some speeding tickets.
- Major infractions could result in a 25% increase. That's for things like distracted driving, false statement of insurance, failing to report an accident, or speeding in a construction zone.
- Serious or criminal driving convictions could result in a 100% increase. That's for things like racing, failing to remain at the scene of an accident, criminal negligence, or driving under the influence.
The affect a traffic ticket will have on your insurance premium will last for three years from the date you were convicted (e.g. pled guilty and paid the fine), not the date that you were charged.