Nobody likes getting a traffic ticket. It is time consuming, expensive, and stressful. Receiving traffic tickets in Louisiana means that your driving record and insurance premiums are certainly going to suffer along with your wallet. When you get Louisiana traffic tickets it is best to take a deep breath, relax and know you have options. Your best path is to start by reading your citation carefully, and recalling just what the officer told you. In Louisiana, their Office of Motor Vehcles is a division of their Department of Safety.
Is a Court Appearance Required?
Not all traffic tickets require a court appearance. Most minor traffic infractions can be paid in person, online or via mail and have no court appearance is necessary. The major infractions are required by law to appear before a judge. Some of those infractions are DUI, excessive speeding, or driving under a suspended license.
How you handle traffic tickets in Louisiana could depend on whether you are a resident or just traveling through. Let’s take a look at some of the options you have in dealing with Louisiana traffic tickets.
Option 1 – Pay it
You do have the option of paying the minor traffic ticket which means that you admit to the fact that you committed the infraction that you are accused of. You will need to pay the fine before the deadline date that is on your citation.
In Louisiana, some of the parishes and cities will let you pay your ticket fees online. Make sure that the city or parish that you received the citation allows for such payment option.
You may also pay your fine in person as well as mailing in your payment. You should check your ticket for information on what the mailing address is and the contact phone number.
Your ticket does not have the fine printed on it. You will need to get a hold of the clerk of courts for information on this by contacting the city or parish in which you received the citation. When you contact them, make sure that you ask about the method of payment that is accepted.
Option 2 – Plead Not Guilty and Request a Trial
If you decide to contest the ticket, you will then plead not guilty. If you received your ticket from a city policeman, you will be going to the city court. If you received your ticket from a parish policeman or the state police, you will be going to district court.
Option 3 – Appeal Your Case
In appealing your case, you will be facing the judge and the police officer that gave you the traffic ticket will also be there. You have the option for self-representation or you may need to hire an attorney, depending on the citation. The court must know of your decision by the date on the citation which is also your court date.
If you chose to represent yourself, you are responsible for preparing your own case. Gathering evidence and interviewing witnesses are some of the things you will need to do.
If you hire an attorney, the attorney will gather the evidence and your odds of a reduction in the traffic ticket fees or a total dismissal are increased.
When you appear in court, the judge will listen to both sides and then make his decision.
The judge could decide that you are not guilty and he could drop all charges and remove all fines. You could still be accountable for court costs and attorney fees if you hired an attorney.
On the other hand, the judge could feel that you are guilty and he will then let you know how and when to pay the traffic ticket and court costs. He will also let you know of any other penalties are payable and when they will take effect.
At this point, you can appeal the judge’s decision. You will need to go to the office of the clerk or, if you hired an attorney, he can handle this for you. Just be aware that an appeal will cost you more in attorney fees and additional court costs.
Option 4 – Take an Online Defensive Driving Course
Since there is no point system in Louisiana, they participate in the “Problem Driver Pointer System”. This is part of the National Driver registry and they keep records of certain traffic infractions along with suspensions and license that are revoked.
Louisiana also does not have any solid information on ticket dismissal by taking a defensive driving course and varies from court to court. Make sure to ask your court/judge if this option is available to you and any related benefits.
In addition many insurance companies offer an incentive discount on your auto policy if you complete a driver improvement course in Louisiana.