What to do if you get a Traffic Ticket in Ohio

Upon getting your ticket in Ohio, you will need to decide if you should plead guilty, plead no contest or plead not guilty. A guilty plea or no contest plea will require you to pay the fine on the citation. If you wish to challenge the ticket you should choose not guilty, and schedule a court appearance. No matter what plea you choose, it must be done before the appearance date listed on the citation.

Ignoring Ohio traffic tickets will result in license suspension and potentially a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest.

In Ohio, the Bureau of Motor Vehicles (BMV) does not handle traffic tickets. Traffic tickets in Ohio are managed by the courts in the individual county in which the citation was written. Fines will need to be paid to, and questions directed to the specific county listed on your traffic ticket.

Is a Court Appearance Required?

Less severe violations will not require a court appearance in Ohio. However, sever infractions like DUI, racing on public highways or roads, or committing a felony with your vehicle will require a court appearance.

Ohio uses a point system that tracks driving infractions in the state. Various infractions carry point values of 2, 4 or 6 points. 6 point infractions would include more serious violations like DUI, failure to stop at the scene of a crash etc. Moderate violations carry a four point penalty and they can include violations such as reckless operation or driving under the influence as a minor. Two point violations include most moving violations in the state including excessive speed. Driving with an Ohio BMV suspension would also carry a 2-point penalty.

Your Options

1) Pay Your Ticket

Each court in Ohio may have different payment options. While most certainly allow you to pay the ticket in person or via mail, some allow for online payments. When paying in person, you should bring your citation, driver’s license and proof of insurance. Check with your particular court in advance to verify acceptable forms of payment. When paying by mail, be sure to include proof of insurance if your traffic ticket indicates.

You should know that paying your traffic fine in Ohio is an admission of guilt. Along with admitting your guilt to the infraction listed on the ticket, you are waiving your right to a trial, and you possibly could have points added to your driver’s license. If enough points accumulate on your license, it may be revoked or suspended. Ohio does allow for drivers to take a defensive driving course or online traffic school to have up to a 2 point reduction. You should also be aware that depending on your insurance company, points on your driving record may result in higher car insurance premiums.

2) Plead Not Guilty and Request a Trial

You may decide to fight your traffic ticket in court. If that is the case you should notify the court listed on your citation of your intention to do so. You can do this by going to the court in advance of the date listed on your traffic ticket, or by appearing in court on that date. The court will then schedule a date for your trial.

In preparing for your court appearance you should consider hiring legal representation, and preparing your case. Preparing your case may involve subpoenaing your witness, your driving record and perhaps even requesting the officer’s citation history.

If the court finds in your favor, all penalties will be released, however you will still be liable for court costs. If you are found guilty, the court will instruct you as to your penalties. Of course a guilty verdict will also result in court costs as well.

3) Appeal your Case

If you or your attorney does not agree with the verdict in your case you can always file for an appeal. An appeal means that a judge will review your case to see if any errors were made. An appeal will involve another court appearance and of course, additional costs.

4) Take an Online Defensive Driving Course

Ohio allows for violators to eliminate up to 2 points on their driving record by taking a state approved online defensive driving or traffic school course.

By completing an online traffic school, not only may you get a point reduction on your Ohio driver’s license, but your driving skills and knowledge will improve, and you may even save money on your auto insurance premiums.

If the court allows, you should carefully consider taking an online traffic school course to minimize the damage to your driving record.