Thursday, March 7, 2019

How to Handle Traffic Tickets When You Travel

Ah, the joys of traveling! Whether it’s a weekend getaway, a two-week trek across America, or a season-long RV adventure, there’s nothing like a road trip to bring the family together and provide fun and exciting times for everyone.

But what happens if you get a traffic ticket while you’re on the road? Depending on how you handle it, it could be a minor inconvenience or it could become something that haunts you for months, if not years, to come.
Related image
Most travelers choose to do one of two things: pay the ticket or ignore it, knowing they likely never will be in the state again. Unfortunately, neither of these options serves your best interests.

Paying the Fine
If you’ve never thought about it before, it may shock you to learn that when you pay the fine associated with a traffic ticket, you have plead guilty to committing that traffic offense. This means that, for all practical purposes, you have been convicted of that offense. This could come back to haunt you if you blithely pay whatever traffic tickets you get while traveling. You could wind up with a suspended driver’s license you don’t even know is suspended.

Ignoring the Ticket
Simply ignoring the ticket is an even worse idea. This is one time when benign neglect doesn’t work. The ticket, and its underlying charge, will not just “go away.” Instead, when you fail to appear at your scheduled court hearing, the traffic court judge undoubtedly will issue a bench warrant. This gives law enforcement officials the right to arrest you whenever and wherever they find you. Once arrested, you must post a bond in order to get out of jail.
Admittedly, officers are not going to track you down and arrest you for failing to appear on a minor traffic charge. However, your failure to appear charge is separate and apart from whatever traffic offense your ticket alleges you committed. And you now stand “convicted” of both, along with the fines and court costs inherent to both.

“So what?” you say. “I’ll never be back here, so what can they do?” They can, and undoubtedly will put you into the nationwide computer system known as the Interstate Compact.

Interstate Compact
In all likelihood, you’ve never heard of the Interstate Compact, a/k/a the Driver License Compact. Most people don’t even know that such a thing exists. It does, and its motto is “One Driver, One License, One Record.”

What this means for you and your out-of-state traffic ticket(s) you got while traveling is that your home state now knows about these tickets. Not only that, but it likely will impute the out-of-state convictions you received, and the points associated with them, to your home state driving record. Now you could be in real trouble.

Depending on your home state’s point system, these out-of-state points could push you over your limit. The result? Your home state suspends your driver’s license, probably without your even knowing it. If you get pulled over in your home state for an alleged traffic violation, you will be charged with driving on a suspended license in addition to whatever other offense(s) the officer alleges you committed.

The Better Strategy
Rather than paying the ticket(s) you got while traveling or failing to appear in court, your best strategy is to contact a local attorney. For instance, if you get a ticket anywhere in Texas, you should contact the traffic ticket lawyers in Houston.
Not only do they provide Texas-wide traffic ticket legal defense, if a Texas judge or court has already issued a bench warrant against you, they are licensed in most courts to post your bond and lift your arrest warrant.

The moral to this story? Don’t let traffic tickets ruin your road trip, either now or in the future.