Why You May Want to Fight That Ticket
When issued traffic tickets — even ones they believe to be unfounded — people often elect to plead guilty and simply pay the fine. This is understandable given that the cost of taking a day off for traffic court can exceed the amount of the fine for a speeding infraction. Conversely, traffic tickets that stem from vehicle collisions or other accidents may have higher fines and more serious penalties than speeding or other minor driving offenses, and therefore may be worth disputing.
While traffic tickets are not criminal offenses, the way in which courts handle them does somewhat parallel the criminal process. Most people do not realize that paying a traffic ticket is the same as admitting guilt for the conduct that gave rise to the citation. Normally, this is just a procedural step. However, a guilty plea can have a huge impact if you are involved in a civil suit stemming from the same incident. This remains the case whether you are the injured plaintiff or the defendant. Consider the following:
- If you are the defendant, your guilty plea can be used as evidence of your fault for the accident.
- If you are the plaintiff, your guilty plea can be used to prove the defendant was not at fault for the accident.
- Even if other evidence shows that the defendant was partially at fault, your guilty plea can be used to reduce the injury compensation to which you are entitled, due to contributory negligence principles in Florida.
Pleas of no contest — declining to contest the penalty while not admitting guilt — are not available for most traffic violations in Fort Lauderdale or elsewhere in Florida. Therefore, your only options are typically to fight the ticket or to admit guilt. If you are involved in a civil auto accident lawsuit after receiving a traffic ticket from the same incident, you should notify your attorney immediately. With professional help, you may be able to contest the ticket and avoid jeopardizing your position at trial.