If you receive a traffic ticket in Rhode Island, you may think just paying the ticket is the easiest thing to do. While paying the ticket may take the least amount of time, this does not necessarily mean paying the ticket is in your best interests.
Paying the Ticket Constitutes a Guilty Plea
Many people are surprised to learn paying a traffic ticket is the same as pleading guilty to the offense in court. Many people are also surprised there are several ways to keep a traffic ticket off your record. These include:
- Dismissal based on a good driving record;
- Dismissal based on the cop's failure to appear at the trial setting;
- Dismissal after completion of community service; or
- A lower fine.
Dismissal based on Good Driving
If you have a good driving record, and no prior violations within the past three years, you may get your ticket dismissed based on this good record. Rhode Island state law has procedures set up to accomplish a dismissal based on a good driving record.
Dismissal Based on Lack of Prosecution
At your first court appearance on a traffic ticket, if you plead not guilty, you will be given a date for trial. At that time, the state has the burden of proving you committed the driving violation you are accused of beyond a reasonable doubt. This will generally require the testimony of the officer who gave you the ticket. If that officer fails to appear for trial, and the officer's testimony is necessary for the state to meet their burden of proof, the case against you will likely be dismissed, as the government cannot make their case without the testimony.
Dismissal After Completion of Community Service
In certain cases, a negotiated settlement can occur. When this happens, the driver agrees to perform a certain number of community service hours. In exchange for completing these hours, the case may be dismissed. The hours must be completed in a certain amount of time, and the driver must provide proof of the completion of the hours. If the community service isn't completed in the time allotted, the case goes back on the trial calendar, and the state could proceed against the driver just as if there had been no negotiated settlement.
A Lower Fine
Fines in traffic cases are based on a schedule. This schedule is strictly enforced for those who pay their tickets on the front end. However, if one challenges a traffic ticket, it is possible to negotiate a lower fine.
If You Get a Traffic Ticket
Simply paying the fine on a traffic ticket could lead to unintended consequences. In Rhode Island, a person is required to appear on their third violation within a 12 month period. While it may seem most convenient to pay a ticket when first received, this counts as a moving violation on the person's record. Once a single moving violation is entered, a second or subsequent violation is more difficult to get dismissed through a plea agreement.
If you have a ticket for a moving violation, contact the Law Offices of Kensley R. Barrett, Esquire. What you don't know about traffic tickets can have lasting and harmful effects. We offer free consultations. Call us at (401) 380-6724.