What happens if I can't pay the fee for a traffic violation

Asked almost 5 years ago - Massapequa, NY

I have two tickets that i have to pay, one for speeding and one for an illegal turn on red. Unfortunately I can't pay the two tickets at this point due to a lack of money on my part. What do I do here?

Attorney answers (3)

  1. Christopher Jude Pelli

    Pro

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . You should consider calling the Court, or better yet, visiting the Court to explain your financial situation. Most Judges are sympathetic to those who at least make an honest attempt to pay and will grant several extensions. Further, many courts appreciate the current global financial situation and how it affects regular folks.
    If you fail to make any effort to pay the fines, your license could be suspended, creating the further potential problem of being charged with the CRIME of unlicensed operation of a motor vehicle, if you get caught. :)
    You should also be aware of the difference between fines and surcharges. The vast majority of traffic infractions carry mandatory surcharges, upon conviction, which are separate and quite distinct from fines. The infractions that you mentioned each require the imposition of mandatory surcharges. The difference between the two is that surcharges are CIVIL in nature and fines are more closely related to the crime, or in this case, the traffic infraction. To be clearer, if you fail to pay the fine, the Court may re-sentence you to some other punishment like community service or even jail (no more than 15 days). If you fail to pay the surcharge, it may affect your credit, but not the underlying sentence. HOWEVER, some courts don't even know the difference and wind up treating the two the same, so you're best off paying both if you possibly can.
    So, visit the court, try to get an extension, with the goal of paying the FINES first and the surcharges later.

    Hope this helps.

  2. Matthew Jay Weiss

    Contributor Level 14

    Answered . Have you pled guilty already? If not, plead not guilty and you'll get a court date in a few weeks (or months). That will "buy" you some time.

    If you have already pled guilty, then I would ask to speak to the judge and request additional time to pay.

  3. Michael E. Beer

    Contributor Level 9

    Answered . The above answers are great. Just to add. Unpaid ticket result in suspended licenses and additional fines, so to avoid that try to find a way to pay it.

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