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What Happens if I Don’t Pay a Traffic Ticket?

July 28, 2022
New Jersey Traffic Ticket Attorneys at Ellis Law Represent Clients with Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines.

Receiving traffic tickets are frustrating and costly, depending on the extent of the violation. Oftentimes, people forget to pay the ticket fines, follow-up for violations, or appear in court as agreed to when accepting the ticket.

Many people simply ignore tickets, causing both tickets and fines and fees to accumulate. But ignoring or refusing to answer for your traffic violations and making no attempt to pay the fines can not only be costly, but result in serious consequences, including jail time.

What Are Some Traffic Violations in New Jersey?

Traffic violations in New Jersey are classified as moving or non-moving. Moving violations occur when traffic laws are broken while the vehicle is in motion, such as drunk driving, speeding, or failing to stop at a traffic light. Non-moving traffic violations occur when the vehicle is parked or failure to maintain equipment, such as parking in handicapped space or a no-parking zone, having an expired meter, and broken, missing, or burned-out vehicle lights. Additional New Jersey traffic violations include:

  • Causing an accident in a construction zone
  • Disobeying turn laws
  • Disregarding traffic signals or signs
  • Driving the wrong way on a one-way street
  • Driving under the influence of alcohol or drugs
  • Failure to obey railroad crossing signals
  • Failure to stop at traffic lights or stop signs
  • Failure to yield for pedestrians
  • Failure to yield to emergency vehicles
  • Insufficient or no car insurance
  • Making illegal U-turns
  • Operating a vehicle on an expired, suspended, revoked, or cancelled license
  • Operating a vehicle with no driver’s license
  • Parking violations
  • Passing in a no-passing zone
  • Reckless driving
  • Refusing to take or failing an alcohol or drug test
  • Speeding
  • Street racing or drag racing

What Are the Consequences if I Do Not Pay My Traffic Fines?

New Jersey laws stipulate those individuals be afforded a “reasonable opportunity” of time to pay traffic fines, though they should be paid in as timely a manner as possible to avoid additional costs and legal trouble. If you cannot pay the ticket fine there are other available options, but do not ignore the ticket in hopes of avoiding payment. Doing so can lead to worse consequences than the fine, such as:

Higher Fines

If you do not pay your tickets or attend court hearings, additional costs will be applied, including higher ticket fines, late fees, penalties, and more. Unpaid tickets can also be sent to collection agencies, which can result in additional fees or the agency filing a lawsuit against you to obtain a court order for you to pay, which can also come with additional court costs.

Suspended Driver’s License

Unpaid traffic tickets or missed court appearances can result in the suspension of your driver’s license, or worse, adding to any hardship you are already experiencing. Suspensions are usually temporary and lifted once you pay the fine and wait a court-ordered period of time before reinstating the license, which carries additional cost to you.

If you continue to not pay the fines and associated fees, your license can be revoked, meaning you cannot drive at all for a minimum of one year, at which time you can reapply for the license, provided you paid all the associated costs and those related to the traffic ticket.

Car Registration Renewal Problems

In addition to having your license suspended or revoked, these orders can result in difficulty in renewing your car’s registration and license plates.

Loss of Your Vehicle

Over time, failure to pay traffic tickets could leave you without a vehicle entirely. If you accumulate multiple unpaid tickets and do not pay them on time, the fines can double, be sent to a collection agency, or your car could be listed for immobilizing with a wheel clamp, so you are unable to drive it. Once booted, you have 24 hours to pay the fines plus the booting fee. If you do not make the payments, your car will be towed and impounded until you can make the payments in full, with additional towing and impounding fees.

Misdemeanor Charges

Unpaid traffic tickets can lead to misdemeanor charges. When you sign the traffic ticket you are given, you are promising to appear in court related to your traffic violation. If you do not attend the hearing, you can be charged with a “failure to appear,” a violation of the summons you signed carrying misdemeanor charges should the judge elect to charge you in addition to your failure to pay.

Arrest Warrant

Failure to pay traffic fines could lead to a warrant for your arrest, or a failure to appear bench warrant if you failed to attend your court hearing. For some cases this may be a rare extreme action, however, if you have accumulated many points on your driving record, have a criminal record, or are disrespectful to the judge, law enforcement officer, or other court personnel, the judge may elect to issue the warrant. Should you receive an arrest warrant, contact the law office right away.


Incarceration

If you fail to meet any obligation or are caught driving on a suspended or revoked driver’s license, you could face jail time for up to three months, which also carries a $20 daily fine for every day spent in jail. This amount will be added to all of the accumulated fines, late fees, penalties, and court costs already incurred, which could easily total into the thousands all together.

If you have unpaid traffic tickets, missed court hearings, or both, you should contact an attorney as soon as possible, and as early as possible to avoid experiencing all of these consequences and mounting costs.

Additional Costs Associated with Traffic Violations

The New Jersey Motor Vehicle Commission utilizes a point system related to your driving record, which accumulate with violations. If you receive 12 or more points against your license for traffic violations, your license can be suspended or revoked, all of which come with costly fines, fees, and penalties, and usually results in increases to your car insurance premiums. Points for traffic violations also incur surcharges, as follows:

  • Point-based surcharges: Six or more points on your license within a three-year period result in $150 per year for three years for six points ($450), with an additional $25 per year surcharge for each additional point beyond six
  • Conviction-based surcharges: If you are convicted of any of the following, costly additional surcharges accrue:
    • Driving on expired license: $100 per year for three years ($300)
    • Driving with a suspended license: $250 per year for three years ($750)
    • Operating an uninsured vehicle: $250 per year for three years ($750)
    • First or second DWI: $1,000 per year for three years ($3,000)
    • Third DWI: $1,500 per year for three years if it occurs within three years of the previous offense ($4,500)
    • Refusing to take blood alcohol concentration test” $1,000 per year for three years ($3,000)

What If I Am Unable to Pay My Traffic Violation Fines?

New Jersey courts understand that everyone has different financial situations and that some individuals may not be able to pay the cost of tickets or pay the full price all at once. Fortunately, you have available options in lieu of making a financial payment, such as:

  • Fee modification: In some hardship cases, the court may be willing to accept requests for a reduction in the cost of the fine, extending the allotted time to make the payment in full, an installment payment plan, or an agreement to perform community service in lieu of payment.
  • Fighting the ticket: In some cases, fighting the traffic ticket may be beneficial, depending on the circumstances of why you received the ticket in the first place. If you win and the ticket is thrown out, you owe nothing. But even if you lose and you are still required to pay, the aforementioned options are still available to you to accommodate you paying the fines.
  • Traffic school: In some circumstances, you may benefit from attending traffic school because the fine you owe will be waived upon completion of the program, though there is a small fee to take the classes. This option also helps your insurance coverage as completion of traffic school prevents demerit points on your license that usually trigger additional insurance rate increases.

New Jersey Traffic Ticket Attorneys at Ellis Law Represent Clients with Unpaid Traffic Violation Fines

If you have unpaid traffic violations, missed traffic court hearings, or received an arrest warrant, you need the experienced New Jersey traffic ticket attorneys at Ellis Law to represent you. Call us at 732-308-0200 or contact us online to schedule a free consultation. Located in Freehold, New Jersey, we serve clients in East Brunswick, Toms River, Middletown, Jersey City, Neptune, Hudson County, Union County, and Ocean County, as well as Brooklyn and New York, New York.

Call Now for a Free Consultation 732-308-0200

Freehold

Ellis Law Center 87 South Street

Freehold, NJ 07728

Phone: 732-308-0200

Fax: 732-577-0100

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East Brunswick

Turnpike Plaza, 197 Route 18

East Brunswick, NJ 08816

Phone: 732-254-3355

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1861 Hooper Avenue

Toms River, NJ 08753

Phone: 732-741-1616

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