Ask an Attorney: What to do if I receive a traffic ticket by mail?

Whether you are captured by a speed camera or pulled over by a police officer, receiving a traffic ticket is a stressful and frustrating experience. Beyond the nuisance of paying a fine, tickets can come with hefty increases to your car insurance rate and even points on your license.

While it can be tempting to pay your ticket and move on immediately, it’s important to take a step back and consider your options before taking action. This post will answer several common questions about traffic law and what steps to take when you receive a ticket in the mail.

Can you get a traffic ticket in the mail?

First things first – receiving a ticket does not necessarily require a roadside stop or a dramatic encounter with law enforcement. It can be as mundane as opening your mailbox and finding an envelope with a citation inside.

There are several reasons why you might be receiving a ticket by mail. Speeding is the most common offense, but tickets can also be issued for failing to yield or stop properly, violating NC seat belt laws, or driving an unregistered vehicle. All of these violations can be caught by traffic cameras on major interstates, so in some cases you may not even realize that you’ve broken the law until after the fact.

You will need to make a plan to pay your ticket by the listed deadline, but there are a few paths to consider as you move the process forward. More on that next.

Should I pay my traffic ticket?

For many people, the knee-jerk reaction is to pay the ticket in order to move past the incident as quickly as possible. This may provide relief for the initial anxiety, but ultimately it’s not the best path forward.

Why? When you pay a ticket without involving an attorney, you are admitting guilt and forfeiting the right to challenge the violation in court. Your car insurance rate will increase – usually by quite a lot – and you may receive points on your license. While attorney fees aren’t cheap, the long-term costs of a ticket add up quickly when you account for the court costs and rate increases that may stay with you for years to come. As we like to say, it’s better to pay hundreds for an attorney now who will save you thousands in the future.

How do I contest a traffic ticket by mail?

By hiring an attorney to contest your mailed ticket, you are engaging a skilled professional who will serve as a resource and advocate as you navigate the legal process. A strong traffic law attorney will have a complete understanding of the laws and statutes that can be used to your advantage, and will act with your best interests in mind as they pursue an outcome that minimizes the impact on your life.

In addition to verifying the legitimacy of the ticket, one of the main advantages of hiring an attorney is their ability to negotiate on your behalf. Attorneys have relationships in local court systems that allow them to negotiate reducing the charge, license points, and even the amount of the ticket fine. All of this can save you thousands of dollars in court fees and insurance costs in the long run.

Ready to get started?

For more tips and advice, head over to our related YouTube video: North Carolina Traffic Laws.

And if you’ve recently received a ticket, reach out to our traffic law team to speak with an expert and explore your options.