It’s just a traffic ticket. This sentiment has led many in North Carolina to make mistakes that ended up costing them dearly in the long run. While a traffic ticket for speeding, running a red light or driving on a suspended license may seem minor in the grand scheme of things, it may be a shock to learn how seriously these offenses may affect your opportunities and your future.
Putting it behind you by paying the fine without contesting the charges is not always a good idea. On the other hand, you don’t want to put the matter so far out of your mind that you forget to pay the fine altogether. Perhaps understanding the sometimes serious consequences you could face because of a traffic violation might assist you in making an informed decision about the most appropriate course of action.
Think it through
In many cases, traffic violations do not disappear from your driving record, especially if the violation involves a more serious infraction, such as aggressive driving, DWI or an accident with injuries. Pleading guilty to these and other offenses may result in high fines and points on your license, which could cause your car insurance premiums to spike. However, that is probably no surprise. What you might not expect are the following consequences of having violations on your record:
- Too many points on your license can lead to suspension, and certain offenses, like reckless driving or DWI, could automatically cost you your license.
- If your job requires you to drive, traffic violations or a suspended license could result in termination or reduce your chances of finding a job in your field.
- Certain careers require pristine driving records, such as law enforcement, licensed pilot or commercial driver.
- Some adoption agencies check the driving records of those seeking to adopt, and serious convictions may jeopardize your eligibility.
- Life insurance carriers may see your driving habits as high risk and refuse to qualify you for premium rates.
Failing to pay the fine can also damage your credit rating if the court agrees to turn your fine over to a collection agency. More urgently, however, an unpaid traffic fine can lead to a warrant for your arrest in some circumstances.
Certain offenses may disappear from your driving record after time, but others remain for life, negatively affecting your career, your finances and your personal life. If you have received a ticket for a traffic violation, remember that paying the fine means accepting a guilty plea and all the consequences that go with it. It is wise to explore your options before rushing to get the matter over with.