Consequences of Not Paying a Traffic Violation Fine

When you receive a moving violation from a law enforcement officer, unless the moving violation results in a felony conviction or you are detained immediately (typically this happens in cases like D.U.I., O.W.I., etc), the traffic ticket or fine you receive from the officer should have either an optional or a mandatory appearance date scheduled at the time the ticket is written. This appearance date is available for you to go before a judge (either circuit or municipal, depending on the offense), should you intend to contest the nature or validity of the ticket. If paying traffic violation fines is not your intention, it is in your best interest to attend this hearing and make a plea on your own behalf. Failure to attend this hearing will result in a pleas of no contest or guilty to be entered for you, and you will be ordered to pay the entire amount and forfeit the license points designated on the original citation.

If You Fail To Pay Your Fine

Once a plea has been entered and the fine amount ordered, you will also be ordered to pay within a designated amount of time. In most jurisdictions, this period is typically 60 or 90 days. The consequences for failing to pay the entirety of your citation do vary from state to state, and typically they depend on the nature of the offense and the number of previous offenses on your traffic record. Some of the typical consequences for failure to pay a traffic fine are: 

  • License Suspension- This is almost a given if you both fail to appear to plea and fail to pay the fine in the amount of time allotted by the court. In most states, your license can be suspended for a period of either two years, or until you pay the balance of the ticket.
  • Warrant Issuance- Depending on the severity of your infraction, failure to pay the fine or failing to appear on your own behalf could result in the court issuing a warrant for your arrest. Having a warrant for your arrest cannot be resolved unless you go before a judge, so typically this means you will be required to turn yourself in. Your warrant is not exclusive to the jurisdiction the fine occurred in. If you are detained by any law enforcement agency, you may be transported to the county your ticket was issued in to go before a judge to resolve the matter.
  • Forfeiture of Tax Return- If your fine goes unpaid through the tax season of the following year, your fine amount may be retained from your state income tax return. You will have no control over the issue once your taxes have been filed, the funds for the ticket will be automatically intercepted before you receive your return.

Getting Help

There are many other options the state has available to obtain payment for your fine. The determining factor is the statutes for traffic violations in the jurisdiction the infraction occurred in. If you intend to pay the fine but don’t have the funds available by the given date, most states allow payment plans or deferred payments for those who can prove financial hardship. Be sure to look into traffic law and statutes for any state you receive a citation from before making your decision and consult with an experienced attorney who can help you choose your best course of action for dealing with your traffic violation fine.

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