When you get pulled over and receive a traffic citation, it pays to take care of it promptly before additional fines and penalties accrue. Sometimes people lose the citation they received at the time of the violation, or they do not receive a notice in the mail after a traffic stop and are unsure about how much they owe, when it is due, or whether they can attend traffic school to protect their insurance rates and driving points.
Many traffic courts and state agencies allow you to check traffic tickets online for free, saving you time and potentially money in additional penalties or even an arrest warrant for multiple unpaid tickets.
Checking a Traffic Ticket Online for Free
When you get a ticket, the officer gives you a copy of the citation. The citation contains important information including a citation number, usually written at the top, a description of the violation and code section, the officer’s name, and the location and time of the violation.
Printed on the citation is the web address where you can go to check your traffic ticket online for free if this is available at the court issuing the ticket. The citation also contains the phone number and address for contacting the court issuing your ticket if you cannot access this information online.
When you look-up a traffic ticket online, you usually can retrieve information by entering the citation number, case number, or your driver’s license number. Some states, such as California, have state-wide online systems for looking up traffic tickets for free.
How Much Do Traffic Tickets Cost
The amount of the fine for a traffic ticket varies considerably depending on local laws, the type of violation, whether alcohol or drugs are involved, and the person’s history of traffic violations. In California, for example, fines for traffic violations are the same across all counties.
Besides a monetary fine, a traffic ticket for a moving violation or felony charge also often involves the driver receiving one or more negative points on their driving record. Less serious offenses, such as failing to stop at a stop sign, receive lower points than more serious offenses such as DUI and fleeing the scene of an accident. In California, drivers who receive more than four points in 12 months have their driver’s license automatically suspended.
For some less serious offenses when you get a traffic ticket, you can attend traffic school online or at a school location, and the points for the violation will not be added to your record. However, you can only use this option every 12 to 18 months, depending on the local laws. If you are eligible, attending traffic school also means that your auto insurance rates will not be affected as a result of the violation.
In most cases, you can pay your ticket online, by mail, or in-person at the court using a check, credit card, or bank card to make the payment.
Learn how to fight a traffic ticket.
The Importance of Driver’s Education for Preventing Collisions and Traffic Tickets
As high schools continue trimming their expenses, driver’s education commonly is eliminated from the course offerings. Yet years ago, completing at least the classroom work was mandatory for graduation in most schools.
Not all states require formal training in driving to acquire a license. Nevertheless, completing this type of coursework is advantageous in the goal of mastering driving skills and obtaining a driver’s license.
Widespread Drivers Ed Course Cuts
Faced with the need to reduce expenses, a trend developed in which schools first made driver’s ed an elective and then eliminated it altogether. This course isn’t the only casualty of budget cuts. Parents and students commonly express dismay when schools eliminate courses in music, art, and physical education. Eliminating driver’s ed creates an additional problem since learning to drive is an important life skill that most people want to master.
Other Options For Completing Drivers Educaiton
In states where completing a certain amount of formal study and behind-the-wheel practice is required for a license, teens must get that training elsewhere if they can’t do so at their own school. They may be able to complete the classroom work online. Behind-the-wheel training can be obtained from a private driver training school. Some technical schools and community college also provide this opportunity.
Paying for a driver’s ed course might be seen as part of the entire expense for beginning to drive. The new driver eventually acquires a vehicle and pays for fuel, maintenance, repairs, registration and insurance. But many teenagers drive a family car long before they get one of their own. Having the license early may allow this teen to more easily get a job and save up money for those other driving-related expenses.
The Lifetime Value of Driver’s Education
Parents have always provided the majority of driving practice for teenagers. Nevertheless, formal training by an experienced instructor adds a valuable depth of knowledge and understanding. Also, that instructor is likely to be more objective, as well as more patient than some parents are. And the student may take the lessons more seriously than might be the case when practicing driving with Mom or Dad.
It seems unlikely that driver’s education will ever be prevalent again in high school course offerings. Without that option, parents must understand the importance of formal education and training in driving for their teens and choose a school that offers it.
The AAA Foundation for Traffic Safety has found that teenagers who don’t participate in an instructional program get into more collisions and receive more tickets for traffic violations than teens who do take some form of driver’s ed. In fact, the citation rate for teenagers who complete driver’s education is almost 40 percent lower than for those who do not.
If it’s time for a teenager in the family to start learning how to drive, parents may contact local organizations offering formal training to learn the course fees, scheduling and other details.