Getting a ticket fixed is more and more common for many reasons. Most are (rightly) worried about the points from a traffic ticket causing their insurance rates to rise. Also, it’s not always guaranteed you can get a ticked fixed, so I always advise fixing the tickets you can. Anyways, while most people are familiar with getting a ticket fixed, they may not know what the actual process entails, and if they have the time, they may actually be able to resolve it themselves.
First, in Missouri there are two types of tickets, a municipal ticket or a state ticket. It’s easy to tell them apart because the state (an more expensive) ticket will have “FCC” or Fine Collection Center at the top. The rest, including St. Louis County, are municipal tickets. As an attorney, when I have a client with a ticket, I submit to the court (often times online) an entry of appearance. This tells the court I’m representing the client.
In municipalities, the next step is the recommendation. A recommendation is the offer of a plea, where the original moving violation (points on your driver’s record) is reduced to a non-moving violations (no points) generally for an increased fine. This is where the speeding ticket turns into an improper parking violation. In many areas, prosecuting attorneys automatically offer a recommendation after an entry of appearance is filed. But in some, the attorney must write to the prosecuting attorney asking for the recommendation. With state or FCC tickets, after the attorney enters their appearance, the court then sets a court date. The attorney must then go to court and talk to the prosecutor in order to obtain a recommendation.
For most tickets, this is a fairly routine procedure. However, it’s a process that can take months. I’ve even had a simple speeding ticket that took a year to resolve.
I mentioned that a person can often fix a ticket themselves. Depending on the jurisdiction, a person can go to the court on the court date set on the ticket. The prosecutor will then talk to the person and might reduce the moving violation to a non-moving violation. This might take a few hours depending on the night and court, and there is no guarantee that the prosecutor will accept a lesser violation. Often times, having an attorney fix the ticket takes much less time and (while there are no guarantees) an attorney can also give you a better idea of what to expect.
While fixing a ticket, whether yourself or by an attorney, is more expensive than just paying the original ticket, it’s often times worth it. Most moving violations are 2 points and points start affecting your license when you reach 8 points in 18 months. (The Department of Revenue has a great explanation of the full points system here.) Which really means only a few violations can quickly affect your ability and privilege to drive. There are also times when tickets cannot be fixed or points must be added to your license. While no one plans on this happening, I often advise clients to reduce or avoid points when they are able.
Finally, and probably most practically, points on your license can affect your insurance rates. So while fixing a ticket means there are attorney’s fees and higher fines, it often is more cost effective to fix a ticket than pay the higher insurance rates. Especially for a young driver.