Getting a ticket is never a pleasant experience as it can have a significant impact on your driving record and your auto insurance. However, you have options and knowing what to do can have a huge impact on the outcome.
Follow these tips to protect yourself after you get a ticket.
Know Your Options
Once you’re issued to ticket, write down all the details of the incident including the date, time and any issues that might have caused the infraction. Record the contact information of any witnesses too.
Basically, you have three choices once you’re issued a ticket, or four choices if you’re licensed and ticketed in Rhode Island. You can fight the ticket in court, negotiate a lesser penalty, or just pay it. However, expect higher insurance premiums and a mark on your driving record if you choose the latter. If you are a Rhode Island licensed driver and your citation was issued in RI, you have a fourth option that is often the best option if you qualify. It’s called the Rhode Island Good Drivers Statute.
The RI Good Drivers Statute allows for RI drivers that have a good driving record (no tickets within the last three years) to ask the court to dismiss the ticket for certain offenses. This statute is governed by Rhode Island General Law. You must appear in court, request that you invoke your good driving record to have the ticket dismissed, and then pay the court fee. In this instance, there is no impact your insurance costs but you will have to be careful for the next three years if you ever want to be able to benefit from this statute again in the future.
If you’re not able to use the RI Good Drivers Statute to dismiss your ticket, then you may decide to fight it. To fight it, you will need to appear in-person to defend yourself. Alternatively, you can hire a traffic lawyer. Gather appropriate evidence such as dash cam footage, photos, GPS data and witness statements.
If you decide to negotiate a lighter penalty, check the jurisdiction as some require written requests. You and the prosecution present your evidence and then the judge determines the outcome.
Positive outcomes include paying all or part of your ticket without affecting your driving record, paying a smaller fine, extending the time needed to pay, receiving a deferral and paying the fine, or waiving the fine after you take a driving course if it is your first violation.
What Impact Will My Ticket Have?
If you decide not to contest a Rhode Island ticket and pay, you can expect it to impact your driving record for three to five years. How the ticket affects your insurance depends on many factors.
If it was a speeding ticket or a traffic signal violation it will impact your insurance more than a minor safety violation such as failing to use a seat belt. Insurance companies also consider driving experience, so a ticket may not impact an experienced driver as much as it would a teen driver.
Every insurance company uses their own rating system. Some companies may increase your rates for three to five years, while others apply a surcharge and then reduce it with each year of “clean” driving. If you’ve been with your insurer for some time, they may not increase your premiums at all.
Learn From Your Mistakes
The last thing you want to do is get another ticket. Tickets increase insurer risk and cost you more.
Prevent future citations by giving yourself plenty of time to get to your destination. Keep your vehicle in good working order and buckle up every time. Focus on driving, not the radio, your phone, or your breakfast sandwich and coffee.
Stay alert and watch for posted speed limits. They can change many times on a single stretch of road.
Watch your mood, too. Tickets are often the result of getting behind the wheel when you’re upset, tired, rushed, or too high-spirited. Never drive under the influence of alcohol or drugs, either.
Practice safe driving and you’ll not only avoid citations – you may also enjoy safe driving discounts on your Rhode Island auto insurance policy. It’s a win-win scenario.