How To Check And Pay My Traffic Fine In The U.S
How To Check And Pay My Traffic Fine In The U.S

Here is the detailed guide and information on how to check or look up and pay for your ticket fine, and the rules that you need to follow.

A traffic ticket is a notice issued by a law enforcement official to a motorist or other road user, indicating that the user has violated traffic laws. Traffic tickets generally come in two forms, citing a moving violation, such as exceeding the speed limit, or a non-moving violation, such as a parking violation, with the ticket also being referred to as a parking citation, or parking ticket.

If you live in the United States, it is important to know the traffic rules and fine just in case you get caught and have to pay the tickets. Take a look at the guide in the article below on how to check and pay your traffic fine.

What is a Traffic Violation?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Traffic violations occur when drivers violate laws that regulate vehicle operation on streets and highways. These violations are quite common. More than 90% of Americans over age 16 are licensed to drive, and many have more than one vehicle registered to their names.

Widespread motoring results in trillions of miles driven each year and millions of traffic infractions— including speeding, running red lights, faulty equipment, parking violations, and more. Local police usually issue traffic violations, and local branches of state courts process them. In some states, they are handled purely as civil violations, rather than criminal charges.

How to check or look up your traffic ticket fines in the U.S

You can look up information about parking tickets or camera violations you received if they are in the Department of Finance’s system.

You can use the parking or camera violation online lookup to find out:

How many unpaid violations you have on your registered vehicles

How much you owe

Whether a ticket is in judgment

If your vehicle may be booted or towed due to judgment debt

Payment status

Hearing or appeal status

Parking ticket information is generally available in the Department of Finance's online system within a certain timeframe, depending on the type of ticket.

Computer-printed ticket: within 5 business days

Handwritten ticket: within 10 to 14 days

Bus lane, red light, and speed camera violations are generally available in the system within 3 to 4 weeks of the date of the Notice of Liability (NOL).

What You Need

To look up a parking ticket or camera violation, you need the 10-digit ticket or NOL number. If you don’t have the number, you can look up the status by providing:

Your license plate number

The state that issued your license plate

The type of plate, such as passenger, commercial, or vanity

Look up your parking tickets or camera violations.

If you don't know your license plate number or your ticket or NOL number, 311 can look it up for you.

Call 311 for status.

How to Pay Traffic Tickets

Traffic Payment Options:

Clerk's Office Public Counter, courthouse drop box, or by mail:

Personal Checks

Money Orders

Cashiers' Checks

Cash (in person only!)

Credit Card (American Express, Discover, MasterCard and VISA) - Public Counter

Internet:

Credit Card (American Express, Master Card or VISA only)

Debit Card

If you wish to pay by credit/debit card, you can do it on the internet. There will be an additional convenience fee charged.

Traffic Tickets and Strict Liability

The majority of traffic tickets are for "strict-liability" offenses. This means that no particular criminal intent is required to convict a person of the offense. The only proof authorities need to present is that the accused person committed the prohibited act. The driver's intent or state of mind is not relevant to the inquiry, so 'accidentally' speeding, for example, is still an offense. Strict-liability traffic offenses typically include the following driving violations:

-Speeding

-Failure to yield

-Turning into the wrong lane

-Driving a car at night without headlights

-Parking in a fire lane

-Driving with expired inspection or registration stickers

Moving Violations and Non-Moving Violations

A moving violation occurs whenever a driver violates a traffic law with a vehicle in motion. Some examples of moving violations are speeding, running a stop sign or red light, or changing lanes without signaling.

A non-moving violation, by contrast, is usually related to parking or faulty equipment. Examples include parking in front of a fire hydrant or on a crosswalk, driving with broken taillights, or producing excessive muffler noise.

Speeding Tickets

States generally have three types of speeding laws on the books:

Laws that set specific maximum speed limits in certain settings. For example, a state may declare different maximum speeds at which a vehicle may be operated on a state highway (65 mph), on a residential street (35 mph), and in a school zone (25 mph). These statutory limits apply even in the absence of speed limit signs.

Laws that allow local governments or other regulatory authorities to establish maximum speed limits. For example, a state may allow local governments to govern the flow of traffic in their neighborhoods and make these speed limits legally enforceable as long as they are clearly posted.

Laws that require drivers to operate their vehicles at a speed that is reasonable under the circumstances. For example, even if the posted maximum speed limit on a rural highway is 65 mph, driving on that highway at 65 mph in a torrential rainstorm at night could result in a speeding ticket, because driving at such a speed could be deemed unsafe based on the hazardous road and weather conditions.

Types of traffic tickets in the US

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

Speeding

Speeding is one of the most common reasons for a traffic ticket. Learn about the different types of speeding laws and find links to resources on state speeding laws and common penalties for speeding.

Distracted Driving

With the rise of cell phone use, distracted driving is at an all-time high. Learn about general distracted driving laws, driving while texting, handheld cell phone use laws, primary enforcement laws, and more.

Driving Without a Valid Driver's License

In every state, it’s unlawful to drive without a valid driver’s license. Find your state’s law related to driving without a license to learn about operating a vehicle without proof of license and the accompanying penalties.

Leaving the Scene of an Accident

Leaving the scene of an accident is a serious crime in most states, especially if anyone was injured in the crash. Learn about the elements of hit-and-run offenses and a driver’s duties after an accident.

Reckless Driving

Most states have laws prohibiting drivers from driving “recklessly” or with a “willful” disregard for the safety of others. This section provides information on acts that are considered reckless, like racing and eluding police.

Running a Red Light or Stop Sign

Running a red light or stop sign is one of the most dangerous offenses a driver can commit. Find your state’s traffic control signal laws to learn about the penalties involved and whether it’s lawful to turn on a red light.

How much does a speeding ticket cost?

Photo: Freepik
Photo: Freepik

t is expensive to speed. The average cost of full coverage car insurance in the U.S. with a speeding ticket is $2,029 per year, compared to $1674 with a clean driving record.

It is difficult to decipher the average cost of a speeding ticket because many states like Michigan, Pennsylvania and Wyoming all assess penalties based on the number of miles that exceed the speed limit. However, most states average around $150 for penalties. Court fees and additional costs can also be added to that figure.

Key speeding ticket statistics

  • 42 million speeding tickets are written each year in the U.S. (CreditDonkey)
  • More than 20% of U.S. drivers receive a speeding ticket each year. (CreditDonkey)
  • The average penalty for speeding is $150, plus court costs and fees. (LawFirms)
  • 1 in 6 Americans, or 112,000 drivers, get a speeding ticket each day.(Modern Attorney)

Options to Handle a Traffic Ticket

Upon receipt of a traffic citation, the driver may have the following options, depending on the laws governing the state or county:

-Pay the ticket and admit guilt

-Attend driver's training or traffic school

-Contest the ticket in court

-Request a mitigation hearing

Drivers who wish to admit guilt and avoid going to court may pay the fine in person or by mail. Many states allow motorists to attend a traffic school course to avoid getting points on their license. Each state has a system that assigns point values for traffic offenses. If a driver accumulates a certain number of points in a given timeframe, his or her driver's license can be suspended.

A mitigation hearing is where the individual may appear in court or mail in a written statement admitting to the violation. However, they are allowed to explain the circumstances surrounding the infraction. Depending on your explanation and your driving record, the judge may adjust the penalty.

Those who wish to plead not guilty may go to court and request a contested hearing. You may testify or present any evidence or witnesses to support your innocence. The individual has the right to retain a lawyer to represent them at this hearing at their own expense. You may need to advise the Court Clerk if you wish to have the citing officer present. If the judge finds that the infraction was not committed, the case will be dismissed. If you are found guilty of the offense, the full amount of the penalty will be imposed.

If you are charged with a traffic infraction and fail to appear or fail to pay the fine by the specified date, a default judgment will be entered against you. Your driver's license may be suspended and/or a warrant for arrest may be issued.

Pleading guilty to a traffic infraction, such as speeding or an unsafe lane change leaves the driver with a clean criminal record. Prosecutors may offer to reduce a drunk-driving charge to a traffic infraction if the case is not likely to win at trial. A weak case may include a problem with the conduct of the arresting officer, the driver's chemical test, or another piece of evidence that may exonerate the offender. These are usually only available in cases where the driver's blood alcohol content (BAC) hovers near the legal limit of .08 percent.

How much does a speeding ticket cost?

Photo: CarsGuide
Photo: CarsGuide

The terms citation and ticket are used interchangeably, but they are the same thing — a written record detailing an error you made on the road.

Based on the latest 2021 data for state speeding penalties, the average cost of a speeding ticket is $150, and the average increase for full coverage car insurance is $355. However, the cost of a speeding ticket can vary significantly based on several factors:

Speed: Your actual speed will significantly impact the cost of your speeding ticket, with higher speeds sometimes leading to criminal charges, license suspensions and even jail time.

State: Where you live also matters. States like Nevada have much stricter penalties for speeding than other states. Louisiana drivers, who already contend with the highest average annual full coverage car insurance rates at $2,724, will see an average increase of $793 on their car insurance after just one speeding ticket.

Type of area: If you are caught speeding in a high-risk area, such as a school, work or construction zone, you could face much steeper penalties than you would on a regular roadway.

Severity: If a police officer observes you committing other infractions while speeding, such as reckless or drunk driving, the consequences of your speeding ticket are likely to be much more severe.

Driver record: If you have a history of speeding or multiple moving violations on your record, you could face much harsher penalties than a first-time offender.

Other costs of speeding tickets

The consequences of speeding can also vary. Ultimately, the penalties you face will depend upon the officer who pulled you over and your local court system. Other consequences of speeding can include:

License suspensions: If your offense is severe enough or your driver record shows a pattern of speeding, you could have your license suspended for anywhere from one month to over a year.

Bodily injury: If you hit someone and injure or kill them while speeding, your penalties will be much more severe.

Points: Speeding is an easy way to rack up points on your driver record, leading to expensive fines, license suspensions and even having your car confiscated. Points will also raise your car insurance premiums.

How does a speeding ticket impact your insurance?

Photo: Getty Images
Photo: Getty Images

There is no doubt that speeding can impact your car insurance rates. The average cost of car insurance is $1,674 per year. However, it could cost you $355 more each year for a total average annual premium of $2,029 per month if you receive a speeding ticket.

Speeding ticket costs by state

Costs for speeding, including penalties and car insurance hikes, vary greatly. Here is a quick look at the most and least expensive states for increased car insurance rates after one speeding ticket.

Most expensive states for car insurance after a speeding ticket

To determine the most expensive states for a speeding ticket in terms of your car insurance costs, we look at the total average full coverage premium when you have a speeding ticket on your record. The three most expensive states are Louisiana, Florida and Michigan.

State

Average annual full coverage premium with a speeding ticket

Louisiana

$3,517

Florida

$3,352

Michigan

$3,164

Least expensive states for car insurance after a speeding ticket

Car insurance companies in some states are more forgiving than others. If you receive a speeding ticket in Maine, Idaho or Ohio, you should still be able to find cheap car insurance. Other states like Hawaii, Washington, Vermont, and Wisconsin all tend to have lower car insurance hikes after speeding as well.

State

Average annual full coverage premium with a speeding ticket

Maine

$1,135

Idaho

$1,213

Ohio

$1,219

Speeding ticket costs by state

The penalties for speeding vary significantly by state, with some states imposing much stricter penalties than others.

State

Maximum Speeding Ticket Fine

Average full coverage insurance increase post-speeding

Average annual full coverage premium with speeding ticket

Alabama

$500

$337

$1,960

Alaska

$300

$305

$1,864

Arizona

$500+

$459

$2,006

Arkansas

$500

$403

$2,317

California

$250

$842

$2,907

Colorado

$100

$425

$2,441

Connecticut

$90

$253

$2,098

Delaware

$95

$313

$2,088

District of Columbia

$300

$338

$1,997

Florida

$250

$330

$2,694

Georgia

$500

$465

$2,447

Hawaii

$500

$149

$1,276

Idaho

$300

$168

$1,213

Illinois

$1,500

$368

$1,853

Indiana

$1,000

$268

$1,522

Iowa

$625

$210

$1,470

Kansas

$500

$330

$2,028

Kentucky

$100

$467

$2,595

Louisiana

$500

$616

$3,340

Maine

$500

$170

$1,135

Maryland

$500

$316

$2,193

Massachusetts

$50+

$471

$1,694

Michigan

Varies

$572

$2,881

Minnesota

$1,000

$419

$2,062

Mississippi

$500

$340

$2,122

Missouri

$1,000

$297

$1,958

Montana

$200

$325

$2,062

Nebraska

$30

$236

$1,767

Nevada

$1,000

$510

$2,755

New Hampshire

$350

$254

$1,529

New Jersey

$200

$244

$2,001

New Mexico

$200

$262

$1,681

New York

$600

$227

$2,548

North Carolina

$100

$720

$2,045

North Dakota

Varies

$247

$1,511

Ohio

$500

$185

$1,219

Oklahoma

$205

$373

$2,246

Oregon

$2,000

$309

$1,655

Pennsylvania

Varies

$186

$1,662

Rhode Island

$250+

$408

$2,426

South Carolina

$200

$294

$1,806

South Dakota

$500

$279

$1,921

Tennessee

$50

$260

$1,598

Texas

$200

$235

$2,058

Utah

$870

$303

$1,609

Vermont

$1,000

$197

$1,404

Virginia

Varies

$330

$1,634

Washington

$250

$200

$1,376

West Virginia

$500

$258

$1,757

Wisconsin

$300

$221

$1,407

Wyoming

Varies

$537

$2,032

Court fees and fines are additional.

Is a speeding ticket a misdemeanor or a felony?

How a speeding ticket is classified depends on several factors. Based on your jurisdiction, your speeding offense may be considered an infraction, misdemeanor or felony. Most speeding tickets are treated as a simple infraction or violation and have no associated criminal penalty. This can include speeding and other minor offenses such as failing to stop, yield, signal, use proper lighting, or use your seat belt.

Your driving history and the severity of the event may also impact how your speeding ticket is classified. When there is property damage, injuries or death, you are likely to face harsher penalties than an incident with no associated losses. Additionally, some states classify a certain number of miles per hour above the posted limit as reckless driving, which could be a misdemeanor or felony. If you speed in a school zone, you will almost always face more severe consequences. Drivers with a record that includes multiple speeding violations or other infractions are also likely to face harsher consequences than drivers with a clean driving record.

There is a difference in how violations are tried in court. Generally, less severe offenses are heard in traffic court, while more severe offenses are tried in criminal court. However, this varies based on state and local jurisdiction law.

Typical Differences Between Traffic Court and Criminal Court

Traffic court Criminal court
Minor speeding

Failing to stop at a stop sign

Running a red light

Texting while driving

Following too closely

Changing lanes unsafely

Extreme speeding

Property damage

Driving under the influence (DUI)

Driving while intoxicated (DWI)

Reckless driving

Vehicular homicide or manslaughter

Most speeding cases are handled in traffic court unless it is a more severe case involving a repeat offender or one resulting in an accident that incurs damages and losses of some kind. If you are unsure about how your jurisdiction treats various speeding offenses, check your local laws or speak with a local attorney.

Impact of a Guilty Plea in Traffic Court

After an individual has received a traffic citation, one of the most common questions is "should I just plead guilty and pay the ticket"? Before you decide, you need to be aware that in most states, the infraction will be on your record for at least the next three or five years, and seven years if you reside in Florida. Insurance companies can check their customers driving records and will increase their insurance premiums if they find a ticket. Additionally, entering a guilty plea automatically subjects you to the highest possible fine for the violation.

In most states, no particular criminal intent is required to convict a person of a minor traffic offense. This concept is referred to as strict liability. Strict liability offenses mean that the only proof needed is evidence that the person charged with the offense, actually committed the act.

Some examples of these are:

  • Failure to use turn signals
  • Failure to yield
  • Turning into the wrong lane
  • Driving a vehicle with burned-out headlights
  • Failure to use tow-bars when towing another vehicle
  • Parking next to a yellow curb
  • Parking in a handicap spot without the required permit
  • Overdue parking meters
  • Exceed the speed limit

If there is reliable evidence that the individual was speeding, it does not need to be proven that the driver intended to exceed the speed limit.

What are the DLC and NRVC?

Most states have signed the Driver License Compact (DLC). The theme of this is "One Driver, One License, One Record". Under the DLC, traffic violations issued to drivers licensed in another state are reported to the driver's home state. The home state will treat the offense as if it had been committed within its borders and apply its laws to the out-of-state offense. The American Association of Motor Vehicle Administrators (AAMVA) maintains a list of states that have signed the DLC agreement.

The Non-Resident Violators Compact (NRVC) requires member states to suspend the driver's license of those who get traffic tickets for moving violations in other states and fail to pay them. The individual's licensing state will suspend his or her driver's license until the person complies with the terms of the citation. It is up to the states that are members of the NRVC whether or not to apply it to residents.

In extreme instances, a motorist cited for a traffic violation in a jurisdiction other than their home jurisdiction, must post collateral or bond to secure appearance for trial at a later date. If the offender is unable to do this, they may be taken into custody until the collateral or bond is posted. In some states, they may be taken directly to court for trial to be held.

The compact is not supposed to include non-moving violations. A member state may choose to voluntarily suspend the license of an individual who does not pay an out-of-state ticket for an equipment violation such as loud exhaust.

How to Delete All Songs or Music from iPhone with Simple Steps How to Delete All Songs or Music from iPhone with Simple Steps

If you need to free some space on your iPhone, deleting music is a good place to start. Check out this article to know how ...

How to Celebrate Lunar New Year In The US: Taboos and Superstitions How to Celebrate Lunar New Year In The US: Taboos and Superstitions

Lunar New Year is one of the most important Asian holidays of each year. How is Lunar New Year celebrated in the US?

How To Celebrate How To Celebrate 'Love Your Pet Day': Date, History and Meaning

National Love Your Pet Day is a wonderful excuse for pet owners to show their beloved pets just how much they care. Read on to ...

How to Celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday: Date and Top Quotes How to Celebrate Abraham Lincoln’s Birthday: Date and Top Quotes

In February, the US celebrates the birth of one of the most important figures in American history: President Abraham Lincoln.