The most common way people end up in jail is by failing to deal with traffic tickets in a timely manner. Whether you’ve got the money or not, call the court and start working with them NOW!
You Don’t Have to Pay the Fine
Most government agencies have alternative disposition options to just paying the fine. In many cases, it simply a matter of correction the violation and showing evidence of the correction, then paying a small administrative fee for the paperwork caused by your failure to take care of things on your own in the first place.
The agency issuing the citation actually has an interest in working with. Think about it. They can either receive all of the money in installments, call it even with a partial payment, have you do some sort of work for them, or they can spend money to house you in jail facility just because you didn’t have the money to pay. Which of these options sounds like the black sheep to you?
Once a Warrant, Always a Warrant
Alternative disposition options usually disappear once the citation (ticket) goes into warrant status, which usually happens somewhere between 15 – 30 days from the date of issuance, if you have not made alternative arrangements with the court. After that, it’s pay or go to jail. In some cases, you may be able to setup a payment plan on a warrant, but if you miss a payment, it’s back to warrant status.
Not All Agencies Are Rational
Now, don’t get me wrong, governments that are full of idiots, so there are those agencies that won’t work with you and will demand full payment or take you to jail. If that’s the case, give priority to that agency’s citations, so you don’t end-up in jail, but work with the ones that will work with you.
Get Deals in Writing
Remember, promises aren’t worth the paper they aren’t written on. So if you pay off your citations, or the court offers you a deal on taking care of them, make sure you get them to put it in writing. Sometimes court clerks lie or pocket your payments, and officers get lied to every day, so don’t get pissy if an officer takes you in on warrant you thought you dealt with. He’s just working with the info available to him. Keep your docs in your car, because that is the most likely place you will encounter on officer. If the court documents appear to match the warrant in question, then they will at least look into it. Otherwise it’s just another story.
Warrants are a Renewable Resource
Don’t confuse the citations you’re being arrested for with new citations the arresting officer writes you at the time of arrest. The two have nothing to do with each other, and you’ll need to address the new ones as soon as you get out, or you’ll soon find yourself visiting jail again, in what will feel like a bad remake of Groundhog Day.
Ever get arrested on something you thought you took care of? Ever forget about a citation until an officer told you you were going to jail? What other experiences have you had with citations or warrants?