I have had many occasions where prospective clients call with a traffic ticket and they tell me they would just rather pay the ticket than deal with the process. While it may seem like a very convenient and time-consuming move, just “paying the ticket” can have adverse consequences on your driving record.
For one, paying a traffic ticket fine will involve your pleading guilty to the charge, which is the equivalent of being found guilty of the same violation at trial. Certain traffic violations do not give the option of pleading guilty by mail, with the most common example being a speeding ticket. This is because the judge sets the fine for these violations. In fact, certain traffic agencies/courts will save the motorist from themselves as they will not allow a motorist to plead guilty to a speeding ticket. And often, they will enter a not guilty plea for the motorist and set the matter down for a conference. It doesn’t always happen this way, which is why it is crucial that you speak to an experienced traffic attorney about such a matter.
The other major category of traffic tickets for which you cannot plead guilty/not guilty by mail are traffic misdemeanors such as DWI, driving with suspended license or registration, or reckless driving.
Pleading guilty and paying a traffic ticket can often involve the imposition of points against your driving record. If you have received several violations during a particular incident and plead guilty and pay a fine, you may be looking at enough points (6) to result in the imposition of a Driver Assessment Fee (DRA), or even worse, enough points (11) to lead to a suspension of your New York license or driving privileges.
If you do not contact an attorney until the plea has been entered and a sentence (fine) imposed, it will make efforts to resolve the tickets much more difficult. It may involve the attorney having to make a motion (oral or written) to vacate the guilty pleas based on said pleas being entered into unknowingly without the assistance of counsel.
I have been able to make this successful application, but it makes matters more difficult and can be easily addressed if the client contacts the attorney prior to responding to the traffic agency or traffic court.