Speeding Ticket Options

A speeding ticket also referred to as a traffic ticket is a moving violation issued by a traffic officer. 

When stopped by a traffic officer due to speeding about 5-25 mph over the limit, you may be issued a ticket. This ticket will have a specific date on it about 30-90 days away.

The traffic officer will ask you to sign the ticket to promise to appear. This is not usually a trial date to contest your ticket but a due date to handle your ticket. 

The court listed on your ticket covers the jurisdiction or area you were driving in when the officer cited you.

Some courts may send you a courtesy notice once your ticket is in their computer system. The courts computer system interfaces (talks) to the computer system at the motor vehicle department. 

It is important that your current address is listed with your State’s motor vehicle dept.  If your address is not current then you may not get notice if the listed court on your ticket provides one. 

The Court’s notification will likely have your ticket number, name and address, codes violated, fine amount and if you are eligible for traffic school.

In most cases this type of ticket is worth at least 1-point on your driving record.

Below are options that you can follow to handle your ticket.

  1. Get an extension – Some county courts offer an extension (by phone, online or in person) so if you are not ready to take care of your ticket then request an extension. For example, Los Angeles County offers a one-time 60-day extension.
  2. Schedule an arraignment (court appearance) date to plead guilty, not guilty or no contest.
  3. Pay the fine/bail amount that will add the point and conviction to your driving record for up to 36 months.
  4. Pay the fine/bail amount and traffic school fee if you qualify. However you can only go to traffic school in LA County once every 18 months from the date ticket was issued. Make sure that upon completion of traffic school that you turn in your completion certificate on or before due date given. You may also apply for a one-time extension to complete traffic school. Check with your local court for more information.
  5. Contest/fight your ticket by paying the fine/bail amount and obtain a trial date from the clerk.
  6. Some courts offer Trial by Declaration. You do not appear in court when choosing this option. This option requires you and the officer to complete declarations and submit them to the court. A judge, commissioner or designated person will decide the case based on the declarations and all other evidence submitted.

If you have missed your due date then you may deal with an increase in fines, suspended license, referral to collections or possibly a warrant. 

Missing your date to handle your speeding ticket will result in a Failure to Appear (FTA) on your driving record. This shows as a civil assessment on your driving record and a $300 plus increase to your fine. In this case you will be referred to collections. If you pay your fine within 10 days of the notice from the court then the $300 plus increase will be deducted from the fine, however a conviction and possibly a point will reflect on your driving record.

If you made arrangements to pay your fine with the court and missed your due date then you will have a Failure to Pay (FTP) on your driving record. This situation will suspend your drivers license. You will not be able to schedule a court appearance unless you show proof that you were hospitalized, in jail or out of the country. Otherwise, you must deal directly with the collection agency representative. The collection agency will not remove the suspension from your driving record until your fine is paid in full.

You do not want an FTA or FTP on your driving record so take care of your ticket. Driving is not a right but a privilege.

Keep in mind that state and county policies may be different across the nation so check with your local traffic court to ensure you handle your ticket properly.

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RCW Team