What the Most Common Traffic Tickets Mean for Your License
Seeing lights and hearing sirens when you are behind the wheel can cause a spike of anxiety and be the start of a bad day. When traffic stops start to add up, they can cost you in insurance premiums, and driver’s license consequences. Find out what the most common traffic tickets are in Connecticut, and what they mean for your license.
Traffic Stops Don’t Always Mean a Ticket
On average, Connecticut police pull over drivers more than 580,000 every year. However, the lights and sirens don’t always mean a ticket is coming your way. Officers may stop you any time they have “probable cause” to believe a traffic violation has occurred, but they have discretion over whether to write a ticket or not. They may instead choose to issue a verbal or written warning, or do nothing at all. This decision is often based on your past driving record, the reason the violation occurred, and even your behavior during the stop.
Verbal and written warnings don’t have the same financial consequences of a ticket, but they can affect your driving record. If the officer records the warning in his or her notes, it could be entered into the police database. That will affect the likelihood your next traffic stop will result in a ticket instead of another warning.
Traffic Infraction Convictions Come with Fines and Points
Speeding tickets and citations may not seem like big trouble. Most drivers are stopped by a police officer for a moving violation at some point in their lives. However, traffic infractions are not without consequences. If you admit responsibility or are convicted at a hearing, you could face hundreds of dollars in fines. It will also result in points being assessed against your Connecticut driver’s license. How much you will pay and how many points you will face depends on what kind of traffic ticket you receive. Here are some of the most common traffic tickets Connecticut drivers face:
- Speeding (0 to 1 points)
- Use of cellphone (Distracted Driving) (1 point)
- Other moving violations (0 to 5 points)
- Disobeying a traffic officer, signal or sign (2 points)
- Seatbelt or child safety seat violations (0 to 2 points)
Points are most common in moving violations. The more serious the traffic infraction, the more points are assessed on your license. In some cases of minor violations like speeding (less than 20 miles per hour over the limit), choosing to plead no contest and pay the fine without a hearing can avoid points. However, before you do so, you should speak to an experienced criminal defense attorney to see if there are defenses available to keep you from having to pay the fine at all.
What Happens When You Get Too Many Points
The Connecticut Department of Motor Vehicles (DMV) keeps a database of points assessed to each driver’s record. If you hit 6 points within a 2-year period, the DMV will send you a warning letter and you will be required to complete a driver retraining program. At 10 points, your driver’s license will be automatically suspended for 30 days. At the end of that period, you will have to pay an additional $175.00 (beyond any traffic fines) to have your license reinstated. If you drive during a suspension you risk yet another conviction with higher penalties. In addition, if you acquire another 10 points within 5 years of the initial suspension, you could lose your license for another 2 years.
What Points Mean to Your Auto Insurance Company
Connecticut drivers are legally required to maintain a certain level of car insurance coverage at their own expense. However, the rising cost of that coverage after a traffic conviction can pose a challenge to drivers. Whenever you are assessed points because of a traffic violation, your auto insurance carrier will be notified as well. Your insurance payments won’t increase immediately -- that is controlled by a contract. However, when it comes time to renew your auto insurance policy, your carrier will review your driving and accident history, along with other factors, and adjust the premium based on the new points assessed.
Is It Worth Fighting a Traffic Ticket?
Many Connecticut residents believe that it isn’t worth fighting a traffic ticket, especially in cases where pleading no contest and paying the fine will avoid having points assessed. However, the cost of a traffic ticket isn’t just the fine. When you weigh the total cost of a traffic ticket make sure to add in:
- License restoration costs
- Insurance payments
- Possible effect on professional licenses
You should also discuss all the circumstances of the stop with an experienced criminal defense attorney to see if there are any defenses to avoid those consequences and keep your driving record clean.
The Lebedevitch Law Firm in Fairfield, Connecticut, helps drivers weigh their options and make an informed decision about how to best defend their driving record. We will help evaluate any possible defenses and decide whether to pay the fine or fight the ticket. Contact us for a free consultation.