You were in a hurry. You were speeding. Maybe you left your car — just for a minute — in a no parking zone.
In either case, you looked in your review mirror or returned to see the flashing lights pulling up behind you.
You got a traffic ticket.
Now what? You got a ticket because you were in a hurry because you were busy. Now you have more demands on your time. You have to respond to the ticket. That takes time — but maybe not as much as you think.
Read on to learn how to pay a traffic ticket quickly and easily.
Deciding How to Respond to a Traffic Ticket
When you receive a traffic ticket, you must respond, and you must do so in a timely manner to avoid more serious consequences. You do have some choices, however, in how you respond.
Contest Your Ticket
Some drivers choose to contest their traffic tickets, and perhaps more drivers should. Estimates identify an error rate as high as 25% among all traffic tickets issued. This means that one in four tickets could be successfully contested.
Contesting a ticket can lead to several outcomes, and many of these outcomes are more favorable than simply paying the ticket. Depending on the circumstances, when you choose to contest a ticket, you may:
- Be found not guilty and avoid any penalties, except court fees
- Have your ticket dismissed if you complete a safe driving course
- Be found guilty and pay the ticket, court fees, and potentially higher insurance rates
The last potential outcome of contesting a ticket is, of course, the least favorable of all and also includes the possibility of adding points to your driver’s license under the Louisiana Problem Driver Point System. Depending on the violation and any previous points you have accrued, a guilty verdict can also lead to your license being suspended.
Hiring a skilled lawyer is your best defense against this unfavorable “guilty” outcome.
Request a Mitigation Hearing
Contesting the traffic ticket is your only option if you want to plead “not guilty.” You can, however, admit your guilt and petition for a reduced or waived penalty. To do so, you must request a mitigation hearing.
By requesting a mitigation hearing, you may:
- Be granted a reduced payment
- Be granted a payment plan
- Have your ticket fee waived if you complete a community service program
Two important considerations to keep in mind if you choose this option are that:
- You are pleading guilty by requesting a mitigation hearing
- The judge’s decision in a mitigation hearing is final; you cannot appeal
Pay the ticket
Finally, most drivers decide to simply pay the traffic ticket. Again, it is important to understand that paying a ticket is an admission of guilt and can result in unfavorable consequences beyond the ticket penalty. These include:
- Increased insurance rates
- Points on your driver’s license under the Louisiana Problem Driver Point System
- License suspension
For minor traffic offenses, however, paying the ticket can be a quick and easy way to remove one item from your already busy schedule.
How to Pay a Traffic Ticket
In fact, you have several options for how to pay a ticket. In most cases, these options allow you to avoid the time and expense of a physical court appearance.
Pay a Ticket Online
The easiest way to pay a traffic ticket is online. Depending on who issued your ticket, paying online requires you to navigate to the website of the appropriate court:
- Violations issued by individual cities are processed by city courts
- Violations issued by parish sheriffs or the Louisiana State Police are processed by district courts
If you’ve received a ticket from the Louisiana State Police, you’ll need to locate the website of the sheriff’s department for the parish where you received the ticket.
Once you’ve located the website of the appropriate court, it’s also important to find the appropriate system for paying the particular type of ticket you received. Most city court websites have separate pages for paying parking tickets, moving violations, and safety camera violations. Be sure to locate the appropriate page for your specific violation.
To pay a ticket online, you need to have certain information handy. At minimum, you will need your ticket or citation number. You may also be able to look up your ticket using your license plate number.
When you pay a ticket online, you’ll also need a payment method. Online payment systems require a major credit card, such as Visa, Mastercard, or American Express.
If you choose to pay a ticket online, you should be aware that most courts add a processing fee (often around 4%) to the transaction.
Once your online transaction is complete, be sure to print or take a screenshot of the confirmation page for your records. You should also be able to enter an email address where this confirmation can be sent.
Pay a Ticket by Phone
Some courts also allow you to pay a ticket by phone. When paying by phone, you will, again, need a major credit card. As with online payments, payments by phone often include a processing fee.
Pay a Ticket by Mail
If you cannot or choose not to use a credit card to pay a ticket, you can still avoid a physical trip to court by sending your payment to the appropriate court office.
Forms of payment that are accepted by mail include check or money order. Cash payments are not accepted by mail.
You can locate the address where you’ll send your payment on your ticket or on the website of the appropriate court. Again, be sure to send the payment to the appropriate issuing agency for the specific violation you received.
Also be sure to have your payment postmarked by the first appearance/arraignment date on the ticket.
Pay a Ticket in Person
Even if you choose not to contest a ticket, you may decide to visit the court to pay in person. This option is ideal for individuals who choose to or must pay in cash. However, you can also pay in person using a credit card, check, or money order.
Before making the trip, again, be sure to locate the appropriate court office and find out their hours.
Some tickets require an initial court appearance on your scheduled arraignment date. In these cases, you must appear in court to avoid more serious penalties.
What Happens If You Don’t Pay or Appear in Court
Timely payment or a court appearance on your scheduled arraignment date is essential to avoid more serious consequences, including late fees, a suspended license, and even a warrant for your arrest.
Speeding Through the Process of Paying a Ticket
Speed might be what got you into this situation, but it also can be what gets you out. In fact, you have several options for how to pay a traffic ticket, and most options are quick and convenient.
You also always have options other than paying a ticket. If you choose to contest a traffic ticket, contact an experienced Louisiana Speeding Ticket Lawyer today.