What to do (and not do) when you receive a speeding fine

According to autoinsurance.org, U.S. vehicle drivers attract 34 million speeding tickets every year, generating about $5.1 billion in revenue to the exchequer. While being ticketed for speeding itself is galling, what should irk you more are the associated other hardships. For one, there is the trouble of paying the fine or fighting it in court and for the other, an increase in your auto insurance premium. For repeat offenses, there is the threat of losing your license.

Therefore, be prompt in attending to a speeding ticket and minimize its effect on you as far as possible. Here’s what you can and can’t do when you receive a speeding ticket.

Take action

The first thing you must do is consider these three possible actions:
  •       Pay the fine
  •         Fight the ticket in court
  •         Mitigation
Each of these actions has ramifications and these are:

Pay the fine

If you know that you have overstepped the speed limit and you don’t have sufficient defense to fight in court, then the best course of action is to pay the fine and face the consequences. The consequences are the cash outflow to the extent of the fine and negative points on your license, which will most likely cause your auto insurance to go up by a substantial amount. Unfortunately, each state has its own fine mechanisms and some could be quite steep. If you take this option, ensure you pay the fine well before the pay-by-date.  

Fight the ticket in court

Sometimes, it is possible that the speeding ticket has been issued to you wrongly, because of a mechanical/electronic fault in the speed gun, or the ineptitude of the officer who gave you the ticket, or the absence of a speed limit sign. According to Jonathan Rosenfeld, in such cases, if you can prove your averments to the judge, there is a good chance you can be exonerated, and no black mark will appear on your license. You can also fight your own case without hiring a lawyer. If the fine is too high perhaps you could consider hiring a lawyer.  


Seeking a reduction for a fine, or mitigation, is a good option when you have a good driving history, without a blemish, and the speeding ticket is your first one, or the fine is abnormally high (as it is in some states). In such cases, the judge can reduce the fine, or give you more time to pay the fine, or order you to attend a defensive driving course. Remember though, if you go in for mitigation, you are accepting the speeding charge.     

Other possibilities

In some states, you could pay the fine and get your ticket dismissed after a cooling-off period, provided there are no further offenses.

What you can’t do

Not taking action on the speeding ticket is a definite no. If you think the speeding ticket will speed away into oblivion, you are sadly mistaken. It will come back to bite you with stronger incisors. There are some states which could arrest you for not taking action on the speeding ticket.
So, watch out and see that you immediately take one of the actions mentioned above. You would be the best judge. Consider your options carefully and recall the circumstances under which you exceeded the speed limit. If you have a fair chance of convincing the judge, you could take the option of mitigation. Of course, not taking action is not an option at all. Be careful, it’ll get compounded.