A good place to start when making the decision whether to fight or pay a speeding ticket is looking at the penalties you may face if convicted of speeding. The worst thing you can do is simply pay a ticket without any knowledge of the potential consequences. We see too many people who call us after they pay and didn’t realize there were so many points involved or such high surcharges or even a license suspension.
1. NY speeding tickets will result in points on your license (from three to eleven depending on the amount over the speed limit), a fine and surcharge to the court, potential additional state surcharges, potential insurance increases and, depending on your record and the extent of the speed itself, possible license suspension. Get a handle on all this first and foremost because you can’t effectively decide how aggressively to move forward without an understanding of the consequences.
2. Now look at what these consequences above mean to you. You live in NYC and don’t drive much or live in New Jersey and can avoid driving in NY? Perhaps losing your privilege to drive in NY doesn’t scare you as much as it would a commercial driver who must drive in NY to remain employed. A wealthy individual may be less intimidated by high fines, surcharges and insurance than others. The question here is how badly do you desire to avoid the consequences you are facing.
3. What will it “cost” to contest this, keeping in mind that “cost” refers to both money and time. Will you need to attend court and is the court near or far? Time off from work necessary? Considering an attorney? How much will the attorney cost and how much time and/or money might the attorney save?
4. What are your chances for success? If you contest a traffic ticket, there is some goal. Of course we all want a ticket to be dismissed in it’s entirety, but perhaps you need at very least a reduction in points to save a job or your privilege to drive or to avoid large surcharges or insurance increases. Or perhaps you need the violation itself to be altered via a plea bargain to avoid certain types of automatic penalties. Is achieving your goal a long shot or is it very realistic?
5. What is your personal philosophy? Money and time and potentially the principle involved mean different things to different people. Some people may be inclined to pay this ticket and just fight the “next” one should it happen. Others can’t bring themselves to roll over and accept any conviction without a fight. Ultimately you are the one who makes the final decision on how to proceed based on who you are and what works best for you.
Some decisions are easy. You are a city bus driver who will lose his job if convicted? You are fighting your ticket. However, in situations that aren’t necessarily as black and white, there just isn’t a blatant “right” answer with respect to whether a speeding ticket should be challenged. I generally advise that if you are uncertain how to proceed, you should err on side of fighting it. If you are uncertain and are seriously considering fighting the speeding violation, this usually means that the penalties are of some concern and that you do believe there is some reasonable chance of success. Moreover, you are way more likely to regret in the long run doing nothing than you will regret doing your research and putting up a good fight.
If you just aren’t sure what to do, my advice will be to fight it and try to avoid the speeding ticket conviction on your record and the penalties that come with it.
Submitted by Scott Feifer