It is a big, beautiful state but traffic tickets in Minnesota aren’t quite so lovely. Minnesota traffic tickets can be costly and eventually, if you collect enough of them, can lead to having your license suspended. Knowing what to do when you get a traffic ticket in The Gopher State can help facilitate a smooth transaction, and have you moving on with your life.

What to Do If You Get a Traffic Ticket in Minnesota

You’ll want to act quickly when getting a traffic citation in the state as generally you will have 30 days to respond. In Hennepin County in District 4 however, you are only given 21 days. It is a good idea to check your citation to verify where you will need to pay for your ticket, or when and where you are being asked to appear in court. It is important you make a decision as to your course of action before your appearance date. Should you fail to respond by the deadline, Minnesota will charge you an extra $5 fee, and should you not respond within 45 days, you can expect yet an additional $25 to be added to your ticket. In addition, not responding by 45 days will lead the court to ask the Minnesota Division of Vehicle Safety to suspend your license. Save yourself the headaches and respond timely and appropriately.

Is A Court Appearance Required?

If “court required” is noted on your Minnesota traffic ticket, you will have to appear in court. If your ticket is so marked, do not send in any money. You will be notified within a week to 10 days of your citation of your court appearance details. Follow the instructions on that notice.

Again, you do not want to ignore your notice to appear as it can lead to even more severe penalties and arrest.

Your Options

Whether you received a citation that says “court required” or not, you have options in handling your Minnesota traffic ticket. Look them over and select the one you think is best for you circumstances. In cases where you are a multiple offender or if you are faced with a serious offense, you may be best served by contacting an attorney.

Option 1 - Pay Your Ticket

Many times if your ticket doesn’t say “court required” it is easiest to simply pay your fine. There are some details to the Minnesota fine payment system you will want to take note of.

You may pay your fine online using your MasterCard or Visa card, or you can pay by moving funds from your checking or savings account. Minnesota’s payment system may even be accessed from your mobile phone if you choose.

You’ll want to pay close attention because the online payment system will offer you 3 options dependent on where you got your traffic ticket. For Minneapolis you should select the Hennepin County option, for St. Paul choose the Ramsey County payment option and for elsewhere you would select “All Other Minnesota Counties”.

You should know that by paying your fine in Minnesota you are admitting guilt to the charges on the citation. The state does not employ a “point system” like that of many others, however repeated or serious offenses can lead to a suspended license, or even a revoked license. A suspended license is a temporary situation where driving privileges are stopped for a period of time. A revocation means your license has been terminated. In some instances Minnesota does offer some limited driving privileges for those with a suspended license including travel to school, work, or medical appointments.

Option 2 – Plead Not Guilty and Request Trial

You have the option of going to trial and pleading your case in front of the court by pleading not guilty. When you do this you will need to prepare your case and potentially acquire an attorney.

Contesting your ticket could lead to a settlement during your hearing, avoiding a trial. It could lead to a not guilty verdict, which would lead to a dismissal of all charges and fines (except court costs), or it could lead to a guilty verdict, leaving you with fines, penalties, court costs, attorney fees, and potentially higher auto insurance premiums.

How you go about requesting a trial varies according to Districts. You should check your citation for details. A complete list of court districts in Minnesota is located here.

Option 3 - Appeal Your Case

Even if you are found guilty in your initial trial you will have the option to appeal. Your attorney should be able to help you with this decision, as it will likely add costs to your experience.

Option 4 - Take an Online Defensive Driving Course

You may consider taking an online defensive driving course if you have been ticketed in Minnesota. While the state does not have a point system where such a course could reduce your points, it will make you a better, more knowledgeable driver. Some insurance companies may also offer discounts to drivers who proactively take a defensive driving course. Check with your particular insurance provider to see if you qualify.