Learning to drive and getting a license are rites of passage that many of us anticipate from a young age. But one no one looks forward to something that often goes along with it—getting a speeding ticket.
There’s no doubt that the first time you’re pulled over and cited for speeding is a stressful situation. It can also be costly, financially. Here are some helpful tips on handling your first speeding ticket appropriately.
Understand the implications
Actions have consequences, especially on the road. Exceeding the speed limit can be dangerous and should be avoided. But if you are cited for speeding, the best thing you can do is be prepared for what comes next. The two main things a ticket can impact are your driving record and your auto insurance.
- Your driving record: Depending on the severity of the infraction, local statutes, and your previous record, a speeding ticket may result in points on your license or even suspension of your license. Violations that are significantly over the speed limit are more likely to have these effects.
- Your insurance rate: A ticket or points on your driving record can also trigger an increase in your insurance costs. This is because your auto insurance provider may deem you a higher risk to insure.
Understand your options
You may find yourself asking, “I got a speeding ticket now what?” Once the ticket has been issued, you have options for dealing with it. These include paying the ticket, contesting the ticket, and exploring mitigation through actions like taking a defensive driving course.
- Pay the ticket: Paying your ticket is viewed as an acceptance of the citation and acknowledgement of responsibility for the violation. Be sure to pay it on time to avoid additional fees and be prepared to accept the subsequent effects, like increased insurance costs.
- Contest the ticket: If you wish to fight the ticket, you should be prepared to appear in court. You may also consider hiring a lawyer to represent you. A judge will make a determination based on your defense and the case presented by the officer or prosecutor. In some cases, you may be able to submit a written defense without appearing in court.
- Explore mitigation: Mitigation can be a great third option, especially for your first ticket (or first in a long while). Seeking mitigation usually involves admitting guilt for the infraction with an explanation of the circumstances. This can result in a lower ticket amount or extended time to pay the fine, or reduction/elimination of points on your record. You may also be able to attend a defensive driving course in exchange for paying the ticket.
How to prevent future speeding tickets
Of course, the best-case scenario is to avoid getting a speeding ticket in the first place. Remember that you’re in control behind the wheel. These tips can help you prevent future citations.
Avoid distracted driving
Texting, talking on your phone, eating, fixing your hair and applying makeup are all things that can take your hands off the wheel and your eyes off the road. These distractions can lead to you losing focus and staying within the posted speed limit.
To avoid Googling “first speeding ticket what do I do?”, try not to put yourself in a situation where you’ll feel compelled to speed. Leave with plenty of time to get where you’re going, so there’s no need to hurry.
Pay attention to road signs
Often the speed limit can change on different stretches of the same road. Don’t rely solely on surrounding drivers or the flow of traffic to indicate this. Stay alert, take note of the posted limits and adjust your speed accordingly.
Observe your mood
Know your own limits. If you’re tired, angry or upset, it’s best not to get behind the wheel at all. Find another driver or other means of transportation, or just wait it out.
Don’t drive while intoxicated
Just don’t do it, ever.
Watch your speedometer
This should go without saying, but it can be easy to slip into a state of mental autopilot and pick up speed without noticing. Get in the habit of glancing at your speedometer periodically to make sure you’re driving at an appropriate speed.