When you get a traffic ticket in Indiana, you will face consequences. Fortunately, you have options, and help is always available regardless of what you decide to do. Below is some information about traffic tickets in Indiana to help you make the best possible decision in your situation.
What to Do If You Get a Traffic Ticket in Indiana
After you get a traffic ticket in Indiana, you need to act quickly. In most cases, your ticket will indicate a deadline for action, which may be listed as an "appearance date" or "due date." No matter what you decide to do about your ticket, make sure that you take action before this date. If you fail to act before the deadline, you could face higher fines and more serious consequences, such as a warrant for your arrest. In Indiana, deadlines are usually 60 days after the ticket is issued, but you should examine your citation for specific information.
Is a Court Appearance Required?
For some traffic violations in Indiana, such as driving while intoxicated or driving more than 35 mph over the speed limit, you may be required to go to court. In such cases, the officer who gave you the ticket will have indicated on the document that you must make a mandatory court appearance. If such an indication appears on your ticket, you must go to court on the predetermined date to avoid further consequences.
If you are supposed to appear in court and you fail to do so, you may face more serious charges. If you do attend court, you must decide whether to plead no contest, not guilty or guilty. If you aren't required to appear in court, you can resolve the ticket completely by mailing your fine to the appropriate agency and pleading no contest.
Traffic tickets in Indiana can be handled in several different ways. Below are your primary options, along with a description of each.
Option 1 - Pay Your Ticket
Depending on the ticket's cost and whether or not you believe you are guilty, you may decide to simply pay the fine indicated on the ticket and move on with your life. You can accomplish this by mailing the appropriate amount of money to the local authorities using the address listed on your ticket. In Indiana, you can also pay a traffic ticket online or over the phone. By paying the ticket, you are foregoing your right to contest the charges against you. If you choose not to fight the ticket, points may also accumulate on your license.
Option 2 - Plead Not Guilty and Request Trial
If you believe that your traffic ticket wasn't warranted and you don't want the charge to appear on your record, you can plead "not guilty" to the violation. To enter this plea, simply select the "not guilty" option on the ticket and mail it to the listed address. You may also make a "not guilty" plea by visiting the court and informing the clerk of your decision, or you can come to court on the date listed on your ticket and enter your plea with the judge.
After you plead "not guilty," the court will set a hearing date and you will receive a notification that discloses the location and time of the hearing. On this date, you can present your case to a judge. Either you can represent yourself in court, or you can hire an attorney with experience in traffic law.
If the judge fines you not guilty, you won't owe any fine and no violation will appear on your driving record. However, if the judge upholds the charge, you must pay the fine along with any court fees related to the hearing. The court may also add points to your driving record. If your charge is serious, you may face suspension of your license.
Option 3 - Appeal Your Case
If you disagree with the court's decision, you can submit a Notice of Appeal to request another hearing. It's typically wise to solicit counsel from an attorney if you plan to appeal your case.
Option 4 - Take an Online Defensive Driving Course
You can sometimes lessen the severity of your traffic charges by enrolling in a defensive driving class for Indiana. Driver improvement courses are available to drivers with traffic violations and may remove up to four points from your license. You may be required to take the course more frequently if ordered by the court, but you can only use the course to reduce points on your license once every three years. The course may also reduce the cost of your insurance.
Before you enroll in a course, check with the court for permission and make sure the course you choose is approved by the state.