What Happens if You Can’t Pay Traffic Ticket Fines?

St. Charles traffic ticket lawyers

A sizable percentage of drivers have been charged with a traffic violation at one time or another, whether due to speeding, a tail light being out, an expired license plate, or another offense. Some offenses are more serious than others, but they all can end up costing drivers money. So what happens if you get a ticket and you do not have the money to pay?

In 1983, the U.S. Supreme Court made it illegal for judges to send defendants to jail if they are unable to pay their court fines. However, it is still legal for them to send people to jail if they are unwilling to pay their fines. This is a distinction that, left in the hands of judges, ends up landing many lower income citizens behind bars, when in reality, they may not have the funds to cover their fines.

Judicial Decisions for Traffic Violations

The truth is, there are not any clear guidelines for judges to follow in these cases. When a defendant appears in court, the judge may not have enough information to figure out if that person has decided not to pay simply because he or she does not feel like it, or if that person simply does not have the cash. A judge may base that decision based on the defendant’s appearance or mannerisms, and therefore, it is not guaranteed to be an accurate assessment.

If the defendant does not know their right to ask for a hearing, a judge is not likely to mention it. That means people end up going to jail without a proper hearing because they did not realize they had other options if they were unable to pay. 

Then, when a defendant ends up going to jail, he or she will have to pay more fines, so they end up in more and more debt. Most states charge room and board for those who go to jail, charge convicted persons for their probation and parole supervision, and charge those who have to wear an electronic monitoring bracelet. All of those costs can add up quickly.

Contact an Experienced St. Charles Traffic Violations Lawyer

If you have traffic fines you are not able to pay, you could face possible jail time. The Law Office of Glenn M. Sowa, LLC can provide aggressive legal representation to give you the time you need, or get the charges dropped if police acted unlawfully. Contact a knowledgeable Naperville traffic ticket attorney to discuss your options. Call 630-232-1780 to schedule a free consultation.