What If I Can’t Afford to Pay My Traffic Ticket?

Even if you don’t have the money to pay a traffic citation, you typically still have options to avoid late fees, collection agencies, and license suspension.

Getting a traffic ticket isn't the end of the world. But if you're already low on funds, having an expensive fine hanging over your head can be stressful. (Of course, you may have other options for dealing with your ticket, including fighting it, that might not involve paying a fine.) Ignoring a traffic ticket will only compound the problem. Unpaid tickets will normally lead to late fees, the involvement of collection agencies, and eventually license suspension. Fortunately, drivers who are going through financial hardship usually have a number of options for dealing with fines that can make things easier.

Traffic School

In some states, eligible drivers have the option of dealing with a traffic citation by completing traffic school. It depends on which state you live in, but generally, you don't have to pay your citation if you do traffic school. And the costs of traffic school are typically quite a bit less than paying a traffic fine. Plus, completion of traffic school will normally keep points off your driving record.

Asking for a Reduction or Extension of Time

Traffic violation fines and the time you have to pay them are often standardized. For example, the fine for running a red light might be $120, and the jurisdiction you're in might give you 30 days to pay that fine. However, the rules aren't usually set in stone. In most states, traffic court judges are allowed to lower fines and extend payment deadlines. So, if your finances are tight, it normally doesn't hurt to communicate your situation to the judge. In some states, it's also possible to request payment extensions by mail.

Payment Plans

Payment plans are another possibility. A traffic ticket can get pretty expensive once all the fees and court costs are added in. Some people aren't able to pay the full amount at once but can make smaller monthly payments. To find out if payment plans are available in your area, you might want to call the traffic court clerk or check the court's website.

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