A driver is unhappy that they've received a ticket

Whether you were issued one while caught in traffic in the heart of Indianapolis or taking a scenic drive on the Lincoln highway, a traffic ticket could really ruin your day. Once you’ve gotten one, however, how does the system work, and what options are available to you?

How does the license point system work in Indiana?

Like many states, Indiana has a cumulative points system that reflects your driving history. You will accrue points based on the traffic violations that you commit. Different violations carry different penalties. For example, making an unsafe lane change will add four points to your license. Failing to yield to an emergency vehicle would add a whopping 8. For more information on infractions and their added license points reference this Indiana General Assembly Document.

The most important thing to know about the accumulation of points is the threshold for additional penalties, which is 18. Accumulate 18 and you could face probation or having your license suspended altogether. Ideally, you never let things get that far. The best way to prevent getting points added to your license is to not be issued a traffic citation in the first place. But once you have one you need to know what to do.

You’ve received a citation, what are your options?

In Indiana you have several. You always have the option to pay the ticket. This may have long term implications such as adding points to your license and potentially triggering a raise in your insurance rates. Still, it resolves the issue quickly. Pay it and you don’t have to think about it anymore. Visit the Indiana court system online to pay your ticket directly.

Can I fight the ticket in court?

You’re first option is to fight the ticket. In Indiana this is the only way to have your ticket fully dismissed. To do so you will have to officially plead not guilty and contest the ticket. Though this could prove to be difficult or expensive, it’s an option available to you. Here’s how it works:

Notify the court in time: Your not guilty plea must be submitted to the court within 60 days of the date your citation was issued. You’ll have a few options. You can mail the ticket back in time and check “not guilty” on the paperwork, go to the court in person and inform them, or appear in court on the date listed on your ticket and issue your plea with the judge.

Winning in court will be difficult. You may want to consult with or hire an attorney, which is usually not the cheapest option. Should you be found guilty you can even file an appeal, but that means more appearances in court, potentially more fees, and more lawyer and court costs. Win and your ticket will be dismissed, but even that could cost you more than the fine for the citation itself.

You could always get lucky. The officer may fail to show, there may be a small technical error with your case, or you may be able to demonstrate your innocence and win. Emphasis on “may.”

What is a ticket dismissal?

Having a ticket dismissed will always be your best option, should you be eligible. If dismissed you will not face any punishment from the court system, and there will be no affect on your permanent driving record. No points on your license, no additional penalties or fines, and no insurance premium increase. All in all, a pretty good deal.

Am I eligible for a ticket deferment?

Depending on your citation and the municipal court that issued it, you may be eligible for a ticket deferment. Contact that court for more information. Generally, a ticket deferment will allow you to have your ticket dismissed after a period of time in which you commit no additional offenses. While eligibility can vary based on your specific court and violation there are some common requirements:

  • You have not deferred another moving violation in Indiana within the last 12 months
  • You cannot have been convicted of a moving violation in the last 12 months
  • You do not have a commercial driver’s license
  • Your ticket must not have been issued in relation to any criminal charges
  • You must be 18 years of age or older
  • You cannot have been found guilty of driving while intoxicated within the last 2 years
  • Most counties will allow for a both a moving violation and equipment related deferral. What does that mean? Should you have been issued a traffic citation for a moving violation you can enter into a deferral agreement. Fulfil the requirements and your ticket will not be added to your driving record.

    Should you have received an equipment citation, a broken headlight, taillight etc, you will be given the opportunity to fix the issue and have your ticket dismissed.

    Find your issuing court by visiting the Indiana Court website and inquire about the specific requirements and process for deferral in your county.

    What are my other options to have a ticket dismissed?

    You may be eligible to take a defensive driving course. Depending on your circumstance this may be a part of a deferral and dismissal agreement. Alternatively, you may be court ordered to take a traffic school course after receiving a violation, or you might choose to take one to remove 4 points from your license. This removal process is available to all licensed Indiana drivers once every three years.

    First, no matter your violation, you’ll need to meet a few eligibility requirements:

  • You must have a valid driver’s license
  • You cannot have any other outstanding offenses
  • You must not have a commercial driver’s license
  • Whether you’ve been ordered to take a defensive driving course, or you are electing to take one for a dismissal or point removal, you’ll now be faced with finding the course that best fits your needs.

    What should I look for in a defensive driving course?

    If you elect, or are required, to take a defensive driving course in Indiana there are a few things you’ll want to keep in mind. First, you want to make sure that you’re taking an Indiana BMV approved course. Visit the BMV site to make find state approved courses.

    You will have the option to take the course in person, through correspondence, or online. It’s important to find the course that best fits your needs. In person will give you more direct instruction, but the convenience of an online course may be a better fit for many people.

    No matter which course you choose, try to think of it as not only an opportunity to fulfil a court requirement, have a ticket dismissed, or remove points from you license, but to improve as a driver as well. Defensive driving courses are designed not to teach you the basics of how to drive, but to improve the skills of experienced drivers. With the right dedication to the material, you can set yourself up to never need to deal with the traffic court system ever again!

    Register here to get started today!