Traffic tickets can be a major pain. Not only are you looking at a fine, you could be looking at points on your license and worse. What’s even more frustrating about the whole situation is that the traffic ticket system isn’t necessarily built to actually reduce the number of incidences of traffic violations; instead, the money you put into that ticket gets dispersed to a wide range of often-unnecessary functions. When you get a ticket, you have both immediate costs in terms of the fine and eventual costs such as increased insurance. Here are eight costs involved in that process that you’re probably not entirely aware of:
1. Increased car insurance costs.
Depending on the nature of your ticket, you might be looking at points on your license. When that happens, you can expect your insurance rates to increase. Some insurance companies have a one-free-strike policy, where your first traffic-related offense won’t incur a rate increase. Some states have specific rules, as well, about how traffic tickets can affect your insurance. Check with your policy and check your state regulations to know what the implications and costs might be.
2. Higher life insurance premiums.
Believe it or not, having moving violations on your record can, in some cases, cause your life insurance premium rates to increase. The basic premise is this: a reckless driver is more likely than a non-reckless driver to be involved in a fatal traffic accident.
3. The cost of fighting a ticket.
Sometimes, trying to get out of a ticket in Long Beach can be more expensive than the ticket itself, even if you win your case. You might be looking at legal fees, court costs, the time and gas that it takes to get to the court house, and more. If you’re looking at a more serious offense, these costs can absolutely be worth it, even if you do wind up paying more in the end.
4. Driving school.
Some courts will allow a deferred judgment for a traffic ticket if you attend a driving school. This cost can be higher than the cost of a ticket, or in some cases it can be lower. Here again, your primary motivation is to keep that ticket off of your record and keep it from affecting your insurance rates.
5. The cost of the greater offense.
You might not realize it, but some traffic tickets cost more than others based on the offense. For example, high speeds are a factor in some of the worst accidents, and so these kinds of tickets tend to have the stiffest penalties. On the other hand, a parking ticket is often proportionate to the cost and inconvenience of having your vehicle where it’s not supposed to be.
6. It can cost you a job.
Depending on what kind of work you do, you might find that a simple traffic ticket becomes an issue in getting a job. In today’s tight job market, employers are looking at just about everything they can in order to differentiate one client from the next. If you’ve got several moving violations on your record, the employer may choose a different candidate.
7. It can cost you credit problems.
Let’s say you get a ticket, or two or three. You then don’t pay those tickets. Those tickets can wind up as court judgments. Court judgments then show up on your credit report. This, in turn, could result in higher interest rates on your credit cards, your mortgage, or even your car loan. This can be a double-whammy for your car insurance, because in many states it is perfectly legal for the auto insurance company to factor your credit report into your insurance premium costs.
8. Miscellaneous fees.
Depending on where you get your ticket, part of the cost could be for things not at all related to the ticket. For example, in Virginia $3 of every ticket goes to crime victims and witnesses, $1 goes to criminal justice training, $2 goes to courthouse construction and maintenance, $4 goes to drug enforcement efforts, and $2 goes to the victims of sexual and domestic abuse. That’s $12 of your ticket used by the Virginia General Assembly for programs not directly related to your ticket.
You might not think about it, but getting even a small traffic ticket can have a ripple effect. You can wind up costing yourself lots of time, money, and frustration, all because of a single incident. Be smart about it; learn how you can fight a ticket, and how you can possibly get your fine reduced or even get your case dismissed.