Don't ignore your traffic tickets in Florida

Florida is a destination where tourists are said to "go on vacation and leave on probation." While it's true that police and prosecutors won't turn a blind eye to lawless behavior from those visiting from out of state, minor transgressions like traffic tickets typically won't land anyone behind bars.

Unless you ignore them, that is. At that point, you could wind up facing far more serious and expensive consequences than you would have if you had simply dealt with the matter.

It's possible to fight a traffic ticket

Suppose you were driving through Manatee County and got pulled over for speeding. You had your cruise control set and are certain that you were driving the speed limit. You think that it is very possible that the trooper mistook your rental car for another similar model on the road when he shot his radar gun in your direction.

Let's examine what could happen if instead of fighting the ticket, you decide to just blow it off.

  • The fines increase. Most people resent spending their hard-earned dollars to pay speeding tickets or other moving violations. But ignoring that ticket or summons to court is going to cost you a lot more in the long run.

  • Your driver's license could be suspended. Just because the violation didn't occur in your home state doesn't mean that you won't face problems the next time you go to renew your license.

  • You could get arrested. This is the most extreme circumstance, of course. If you are visiting from Tennessee and get a ticket here in Florida, you will probably not be arrested there for failing to show up in court here. But in Florida, a bench warrant can be issued. If you ever return and have any interactions with the police, you will most likely be immediately arrested on the outstanding warrant.

Learn about your right to contest a ticket

If you get ticketed here in Sarasota, it is a good idea to learn your rights under the law to fight the ticket when you believe that you were in the right. Sometimes, it might be cheaper and easier just to pay it without a fight.

But that may not always be true. There are hidden costs associated with traffic violations, e.g., points against your driver's license, increased costs of auto insurance and fees, or fines related to license suspension, revocation and reinstatement.

For visitors from out of state, fighting a ticket can be done by your legal representative in some circumstances so that you don't have to return for a court appearance.

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