How to Dismiss a Florida Traffic Ticket
Got a ticket in the sunshine state? Florida traffic tickets and fines and penalties can be a lot to handle, but it’s not the end of the world. We’ll help you figure out exactly what you need to do to reduce points from your traffic ticket and get your driving record back on track. The first thing you need to know is that Florida, like many other states, utilizes a point system to keep track of how well motorists are driving out on the road. Moreover, each traffic violation you are convicted of will add points to your driving record. These points can add up quickly, and if they do, you’re faced with harsh penalties, like drivers license suspension or revocation.
Not only do traffic tickets add points to your record, they also result in fines. That’s why it’s best to avoid getting a ticket at all costs. But since no one is a perfect driver all the time, here’s the breakdown on how to make those annoying points disappear after you’ve received a traffic ticket.
What to Do if You Get a Traffic Ticket
In the state of Florida, the only method of dismissing a traffic citation is by fighting the ticket in court. There are stipulations on this, too – you must meet the following criteria:
- Your ticket must be for a non-criminal violation
- Your ticket may not be a parking ticket
If yours is among the Florida traffic ticket violations that are eligible to be challenged, there are some necessary steps to follow. Just keep in mind that by opting to fight your traffic ticket, you forfeit the ability to take a Florida DHSMV-approved traffic school course to remove points, in the event that you lose your case. First things first: you will need to notify the proper court (in the county where you were ticketed). You can usually find this information on your traffic ticket; otherwise, you can find out online through the Florida Department of Highway Safety and Motor Vehicles website’s "Driver License Check" feature.
The Florida Traffic Court Process
Here’s what you can expect from Florida traffic court – and some tips on how to handle your case.
- Schedule a hearing: Your ticket will instruct you on how to do this. Generally, you can either call the traffic court or notify the clerk in writing that you would like to schedule a hearing. If you do choose to do it by writing, you must include:
- Your citation number
- Your mailing address
- Your phone number
- Hire a traffic ticket attorney: You aren’t required to do this, but having a professional represent you increases the chances that you will win your case in court.
- Organize your case: Gather all your evidence, as well as witnesses, and go over the facts and your argument. Practice your testimony so you feel ready to present it in court.
- Plead your case: The clerk will talk to the officer who cited you, to your attorney, and to you if you decide to testify. The clerk will listen to the testimonies of any witnesses, review all the evidence, and then make a decision.
- Be found either not guilty or guilty: If the clerk judges that you are not guilty, there will be some paperwork to fill out, and that will be the end of it. If, however, you are found guilty, the clerk will give you information about:
- Your fine
- Any extra court costs and surcharges
- Any additional penalties
- File an appeal, if you want to: You may choose to file an appeal if you are found guilty, though this requires hiring a court reporter, which, on top of your other fees, can be even more costly than simply paying your fine. However, if you choose to file anyway, you will have to talk to the clerk.
- Check your driving record: No matter how your case turns out, check your Florida driving record afterwards to see if the proper changes were made. If you won your case, there should be no points or violation listed; if you lost, be sure the added amount of points is accurate. If too many points are added accidentally, you could face Florida license suspension; this is not something you want to risk, so always verify that your driving record is correct.
Avoiding Florida traffic ticket fines and penalties is always a good thing, and if you’re able to make a strong case for yourself, you can say goodbye to that ticket and the consequences that come with it!