Going to traffic school or contesting a ticket get it removed from your driving record to help keep insurance premiums from skyrocketing. Once you receive a traffic ticket, it goes onto your driving record if you don’t contest it. Tickets can stay on your driving record for three to 10 years, or more. The more points on your driving record, the more costly it is to get insurance. Contesting the ticket in court might keep the ticket from affecting your driving record.
Contact the court or the Traffic Violations Bureau, if your state has one, to find out what options you have to get the ticket removed from your driving record. Generally there are two basic options: attend traffic school or contest the ticket.
Traffic school is an option in many states if this is the first ticket issued to the driver in years. Ask the Traffic Violations Bureau if this is an option in your state and whether the class can be taken online or in person. Once you complete the class, double check with the Traffic Violations Bureau to make sure the school reported it correctly. If not, take your completion certificate to the bureau.
Traffic school won't eliminate the need to pay the ticket; it just removes it from your record. This option has you pay the ticket and pay for the course. After checking with your insurance agent, do the math. Paying for the class and the ticket often still saves money in the long run compared to having the points on your record increase insurance.
Read More: How Does Traffic School Work?
Contest Ticket In Court
If traffic school isn't an option or if you feel the ticket isn't valid, contest it in court. Go to the court date listed on the ticket. At court, you will speak in front of a traffic court judge to contest the ticket. Once the officer who wrote the ticket speaks, you can explain to the judge your side of the story and why you are not guilty. If the officer doesn’t show up, or if the judge rules in your favor, the ticket will be dismissed and never show up on your record. If you lose, you will have to pay the ticket and court costs, and the ticket will be on your record.
A third option is pleading down the ticket. This means you argue that the severity of the offense should be reduced. For example, you might argue that you were driving only 5 miles per hour over the speed limit instead of 10. If the judge agrees, the consequences of the ticket in terms of insurance premiums rising and points added to your license will be less severe. However, this is generally only an option if you do not have any other violations, or if this is your first violation in several years.
Traffic tickets for more serious moving violations, such as reckless driving or excessive speeding, should be contested with the assistance of a lawyer. This gives you a better chance of pleading the ticket down or having it removed from your driving record altogether.