Seeing flashing lights behind you can cause your stomach to jump a bit. Once you realize that those flashing lights are directing you to pull over, fear usually sets in. You will find everything you need to know to rectify your traffic ticket outlined below.
What to Do If You Get a Traffic Ticket in Alabama
Each county in Alabama handles its own traffic tickets. Fines for violations vary by county. For instance, the fine for speeding in one county may be different than a fine in another county.
Your traffic ticket may have the amount of your fine printed on it. However, if it does not, contact your local Traffic Court to inquire. Just like the fine, surcharges vary according to county. Be sure to inquire as to these charges when you contact the Traffic Court.
Once you receive your citation, look at the bottom of it. There is an ‘action due date’ listed there. This date represents your court appearance date.
Is a Court Appearance Required?
No, there are several alternatives you should consider. Some of your options do not require a court appearance. Within 10 days of your citation, your local Traffic Court will have your ticket prepared for processing. Remember, it will take some time for your ticket to process.
Before your court date and once your ticket has finished processing, there are several things you can do.
Option 1 - Pay Your Ticket
You can plead guilty or no contest by paying your fines and fees. There are several ways that you can pay your fees and violation charges. You can pay by telephone with the Interactive Voice Response System. You may choose to pay your tickets online via the website (a 4 percent convenience fee will apply), in person at the office of the Court Clerk or by mail. Make sure that the method you choose completes your payment before your already scheduled court appearance date.
Pleading no contest or guilty and just paying the fine will cause points to accumulate on your driving record. You may be required to pay higher car insurance rates the next time you renew.
If you continue receiving traffic tickets and accumulating points for violations, your license could be suspended or revoked.
NOTE: Speeding tickets given in a construction zone when workers are present require a court hearing.
Option 2 - Plead Not Guilty and Request Trial
You can choose to plead not guilty and request a trial before a Traffic Court judge. You will attend your initial court date to make your plea. If you are unable to attend the first appearance court date, you can request another. This must be done prior to your original appearance date. You can do this in person at the office of the Court Clerk or by phone.
You may choose to hire a traffic ticket attorney to represent you or you can represent yourself in court.
If the court finds you not guilty, you will be relieved of all fines and penalties related to your traffic ticket. However, you will be responsible for any attorney fees or court costs.
If the court finds you guilty, you may want to consider appealing your verdict.
Option 3 - Appeal Your Case
You may want to consider an appeal hearing because many states, including Alabama, assign drivers points for their traffic violations. Alabama adds from two to six points per traffic violation. These points tarnish your driving record. They have the ability to cause your auto insurance rates to increase. These points can also cause your driver’s license to be suspended or possibly, revoked.
Accumulating an excessive number of points within 24 months could lead to a suspension of your driver’s license. The time period depends on the number of points received.
12-14 points within 60 days
15-17 points in 90 days
18-20 points within 120 days
21-23 points in 180 days
24 points or more within 365 days
You may want the help of an attorney to appeal your case. You need to file a Written Notice of Appeal to the court requesting an appeal hearing.
Option 4 - If Possible, Take an Online Defensive Driving Course
While not all courts allow drivers to take Defensive Driving courses to reduce their fine, block points on their record or remove their ticket, some will. You should ask the court if it will be possible to take an Alabama online traffic school. One of the easiest ways to complete a Defensive Driving course is via an online school. Completing your course online means that you have access to it 24/7. This makes completing your requirements simpler than ever.
An online course means no classrooms, which eliminates a lot of the pressure. You can complete the course in one sitting or break it up into several sessions.