Citations or traffic tickets are issued in the State of Indiana for various violations of traffic law. Citations generally indicate the statute or code number of the violation, and explain how and when to pay the fine or respond to the ticket. You must respond to a citation, usually by paying a fine or appearing in court, or else a warrant may be issued for your arrest and your driving license may be suspended.
TYPES OF VIOLATIONS
Most traffic tickets in Indiana are issued for what are sometimes called "strict-liability" offenses. In these cases, the only thing required to convict a person of the offense is proof that they committed the act, regardless of any criminal intent. Examples of strict-liability offenses include:
- Overdue parking meters
- Not using turn signals
- Parking in a handicapped zone without authorization
MOVING VS. NON-MOVING VIOLATIONS
Violations are also classified by whether or not the vehicle was in motion at the type of the incident, and traffic tickets may therefore be for either moving or non-moving violations. Examples of moving violations include:
- Speeding or driving below the minimum speed
- Running a stop sign or red light
- Driving without a seat belt
- Drunk driving (DUI and DWI)
Non-Moving violations include:
- Parking in a handicapped zone or other illegal parking
- Driving with an invalid vehicle registration
- Having expired or missing license plates
- Leaving a vehicle unattended and running
The cost of your traffic ticket depends on where you receive it. Payment information is can be found either at the address printed on the ticket, or with the concerned municipality. This information is also available online, in certain towns.
YOUR OPTIONS WHEN YOU RECEIVE A CITATION
Many citations do not require a court appearance, and you may admit guilt by paying the ticket directly. The citation will indicate how and by what date to pay the fine. The method of payment differs for each municipality. Some allow you to pay online or by credit card. Others accept only checks or cash. You will have to check with the concerned municipality.
If you wish to dispute the citation, you must appear in court personally on the scheduled date, and enter a "not guilty" plea. If you are unable to attend on that day, you will need to inform the court five days in advance. While you may be able to negotiate with the prosecuting attorney, a trial will be scheduled if no agreement is reached. A trial gives you an opportunity to fight the traffic ticket in front of a judge or jury, and most people prefer to hire a traffic ticket lawyer to defend them in court.
If you plead "no contest", you will have a chance to explain the sequence of events to the judge as you think they occurred. Even if you are found guilty of the offense, this might help to lessen the fine you are asked to pay.
Some violations which require a mandatory court appearance include driving when your license has been suspended, driving without a license, not showing proof of financial responsibility, child restraint violation, driving 35 miles or more per hour, over the speed limit and passing a school bus that children are getting onto or getting off.
You will also have to appear in court if you are requested to do so by the court or a police officer. If you are under 18 years of age, a guardian/parent will have to accompany you, unless you are guilty of a seat belt offense.
THE IMPLICATIONS OF BEING FOUND GUILTY
When you pay a ticket directly, you are essentially pleading guilty to a traffic offense, which carries the same consequences as being found guilty of the violation in court. Motorists who either plead guilty directly or are found guilty of an offense should be aware of the following possible consequences:
- Certain traffic offenses, including speeding and other moving violations, are automatically reported to the Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles. Indiana routinely provides information concerning traffic ticket convictions to other states.
- The Indiana Bureau of Motor Vehicles follows a point system to track violations and their corresponding penalties. Points are added to your driving record which could result in your license being suspended. For more information, see our Point System section.
- Indiana drivers that accumulate points on their driving record are often subject to higher car insurance premiums.
WHAT TO DO ABOUT TRAFFIC TICKET CONVICTIONS
One of the best ways to reduce the negative implications of traffic violations is to drive safely and not commit any additional offenses. Points on your Indiana license will be reduced, and your driving record may eventually be cleared if you remain free of any additional violations. Smart drivers often choose to take a defensive driving course or traffic school course in order to reduce the points on their license more quickly.
Taking a defensive driving course can also help lower the car insurance premiums of drivers whose rates increased following one or more traffic ticket convictions. Some drivers prefer to obtain a new quote for car insurance following a traffic ticket conviction, since often more competitive rates and coverage may be available.