What Happens if I Throw Away an Unpaid Traffic Ticket?

Receiving a traffic ticket is never a fun or enjoyable procedure.  The temptation is always present to simply throw the ticket away, rather than paying it – especially if you were pulled over incorrectly or for reasons that are not valid.  However, there are a number of potential problems that can result from throwing away a traffic ticket instead of paying it and taking care of the consequences as soon as possible.  So, what happens if you throw away unpaid traffic tickets or parking tickets instead of taking care of the problem, paying your fine, and moving on with your life?

Problems Resulting from Unpaid Traffic Tickets  

  • One problem that can arise from simply throwing out a traffic ticket is that eventually the unpaid ticket will convert to an outstanding warrant for your arrest.  

A traffic ticket is essentially a court summons to appear in court at a certain day and time to stand trial for your crime, whatever it may have been that caused you to get pulled over and to receive the ticket in the first place.  By paying the ticket, you are pleading guilty and summarily closing the case against you.  An unpaid ticket carries the same weight as the failure to appear in court for a more serious crime would, so you will essentially become a fugitive by failing to pay the ticket in a timely fashion. This means you can face arrest, suspension of your registration or driver’s license, and other penalties.

  • Another problem that can arise from throwing out a traffic ticket is that your insurance may not renew your policy if you have an outstanding traffic ticket.  

Because most states report ticket information to the insurance company that handles your automobile insurance after they have issued the ticket, the insurance company may check to see if you have paid the ticket and satisfied your obligation, or if you fought the ticket and were able to get out of it.  If they find that you have not paid the ticket, you may not be eligible to have your insurance renewed until you do.

  • Finally, most states require some sort of annual or biennial registration to be paid in order to legally operate your vehicle.  

If you have an outstanding traffic ticket, the DMV in your state will not be able to process your registration application when it comes due, and your tags and registration will be out of date and will become invalid as a result.  This can lead to larger fines and problems if you are pulled over again.

Getting Help

Don't just throw away unpaid traffic tickets- instead, call an attorney to help you. If you feel the ticket was unfair, or if you want to minimize your fine and protect your driving record, your lawyer can help you to deal with the ticket in the best way possible. 

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