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Tickets can cost more than a fine

Statistics state that nearly 10 percent of American drivers receive a traffic ticket each year. And while it seems easiest just to write a check for that speeding ticket, South Carolina drivers should think twice about pulling out the checkbook.

Experts believe that the ticket could cost much more than just the fine.

A conviction for reckless driving could send insurance premiums up by an average of 22 percent, while driving without a license can boost the fee by 18 percent, according to an insurance comparison website. The added fees could stick for as long as seven years, leading to thousands of extra dollars paid in premiums.

Remember that all of that is on top of the ticket cost, and depending on where you receive it, that could total as much as $1,000 in fees and penalties.

Experts, however, said that there are some ways to cut costs for fines and insurance and to reduce extra points on a license. Their recommendations:

  1. Go to court to fight the ticket. Paying the ticket outright amounts to a guilty plea and deprives you of the chance of telling your side to a judge. Even with travel time to court, it usually winds up saving money when someone decides to fight the ticket. Request additional information from the court and build a defense.
  2. Consider pleading guilty to an alternate charge. Prosecutors might offer a deal to keep either side from a trial that will result in a lesser fine or reduced points. Drivers also can ask for deferred adjudication, which means if they meet certain conditions, such as taking a driving course and not receiving any more citations in a set time, the ticket will be wiped out.
  3. Stay out of trouble. Some insurers will forgive the first violation or accident. They won't the second time around and could charge increased penalties.
  4. Take a defensive driving class. In some locations, points can come off your license by doing so.

Traffic citations are an expense that many cannot afford. However, the cost of the ticket goes beyond a monetary loss. South Carolina licenses are regulated by a points system. If an individual gets too many points, his or her license can be suspended or revoked. A knowledgeable traffic citation defense attorney can help ensure that an accused driver's best interests are protected.

Source: Market Watch, "5 ways to cut the costs of traffic tickets," Kelli B. Grant, July 23, 2012

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