You just got pulled over – now what?

The windows are down, the radio is cranked up and you’re on summer vacation.  You look down and see your odometer, cruising at 85 mph in a posted 70 mph zone.  As you look up from the odometer, you see the brownish colored car, parked off to the side of the road.  It’s the dreaded police, his lights come on and you see him pull out onto the road.  You look up as he makes his way behind you.  We all know that feeling of dread when the police pull out from the side of the road, flip on the flashing lights & sirens & speed up until they are directly behind you.  What do you do, what should you do…?  The smartest move is turn on your directional (blinker) and pull over as soon as it is safe to do so.  Roll your window down and wait for the officer to approach your vehicle.  Make sure you keep your hands on the steering wheel until he arrives at your window.  If he asks for license, registration and insurance, explain where you keep those items and inform him that you are going to be providing them to him.  Remember to be polite and respectful.  Do not argue with him, if he asks you to sign the ticket, sign it.  Failing to sign a traffic ticket in Florida is a misdemeanor and law enforcement can arrest you for failing to sign your ticket.  Signing a traffic ticket is not an admission of guilt.

If the police give you a verbal warning, be sure to thank them and go on your way.  If the police inform you that you were speeding or violating a traffic law, it is best to listen, be polite and not argue.  At the time you receive the ticket, the police do not have to show you any evidence of your speed.  The best thing you can do at this point is accept your ticket and be on your way.

You have a speeding ticket – now what?  In Florida, you have a few options.  You can pay your ticket, but you risk having points assessed to your license which can result in higher insurance premiums or even a possible driver’s license suspension.  Once you pay a ticket, it is on your Florida driving record for your life.  Tickets and points do not “fall” off.  Typically insurance companies will only pull a three (3) year driving record when issuing a policy.  Which means the insurance company can only see the most recent 3 years of your driving history.

You may wonder what other options you have available.  In Florida, you have the ability (if you have a Class E driver’s license) to elect a defensive driving school up to five (5) times in your life time in exchange for no points being assessed to your driving record.  You may elect to do defensive driving school once every 12 months.  So if you have received more than 1 ticket in the past 12 months and you elect driving school , you will not be eligible to elect a driving school.

If you do not elect defensive driving school and you decide to fight your ticket, you can set your own court date or hire an attorney.  To set your own court date, you will contact the Clerk of Courts (in the county you received the ticket) and set a court date or you can hire an attorney, who will set a court date on your behalf.  If you elect to go to court, any number of things may happen.  The Judge could throw the ticket out, he or she could order you to pay court costs or you could be ordered to pay court costs and attend a driving school.

Whatever you decide to do with your ticket, please do not ignore it.  The ticket does not disappear if you ignore it.  If you do not pay your ticket or set a court date timely, your driver’s license will be suspended indefinitely. Which means that you will not be permitted to drive on the roadways in the state of Florida until you clear up the suspension and pending ticket.

If you have received a traffic ticket in Hillsborough County, Florida and you have questions or want to hire an attorney, call my office (813) 218-3700 to set up a consultation.  I cannot promise a result, but I can give you advice and inform you of the consequences of the ticket.  I provide free consultations for civil traffic tickets and will discuss your options and possible outcomes in person or over the phone.