What Happens When You Don't Pay a Traffic Ticket?

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Failure to pay a traffic ticket results in incremental penalties; ticketed persons may first face an increase in ticket fees, which can be followed by a license suspension and eventually arrest. Tickets come with a period of time for action, say authors at DMV.org. The initial period, usually of 30 days, gives people time to submit payments or fight a ticket by going to court, but penalties accumulate quickly if ticket holders fail to remedy the situation during that time.

Depending on the type of traffic violation, people may receive tickets and also incur points on their licenses, states DMV.org. With a ticket alone, issuing officers assign a penalty fee that drivers must pay in a specified period of time. Missing the deadline by even 1 day elevates the ticket cost, usually by twice the amount. Even after missing an initial deadline, ticket holders usually still have the option to make an appearance in court to fight the ticket. However, this secondary action, of either a payment or court appearance, must also take place in a certain amount of time.

When officers assign points to a license, ticket holders must also act in a certain time frame. Failure to do so may add additional points. If another deadline passes, the state may issue a statement for a license revocation. As a last resort, it can issue a warrant for arrest.