Speak Up! - View Question #35
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Question: What is the harshest penalty you can receive for not paying a fine on a ticket?
Answer: This depends on the type of traffic ticket. Under Arizona law, most minor traffic violations are civil citations. If someone fails to go to court or pay a fine on a civil traffic ticket, they are automatically found guilty or "responsible" for the violation by the court (this is called a default judgment).
Most civil citations have a maximum fine of $250.00. Some citations, such as No Registration and No Insurance, carry mandatory fines of between $400.00 and $500.00 and the fines can go as high as $1,300.00 to $1,400.00. The court can also suspend driver's licenses and registration for up to a year for a third offense. Most courts also add default fees or other processing fees of $50.00 to $100.00.
After the court sets the fine and adds the default fees, the case is reported to the Motor Vehicle Division and the violator's driver's license is suspended until the fines and fees are paid to the court. Even after the fines and fees are paid to the court, a reinstatement fee also has to be paid to MVD to have the license reinstated. A person caught driving on a license that has been suspended because they have not paid a court fine can be charged with Driving on a Suspended License, which results in more fines.
The violation is reported to the Motor Vehicle Division, which then assesses "points" on the driver's license records. For example, a civil Speeding ticket is a three-point violation. Most other moving violations are two-point violations.
Under a recent Arizona law, if a driver under eighteen receives one violation on his driver's license record, he is ordered to attend the Traffic Survival School. If the driver fails to attend the Traffic Survival School his license will be suspended for six months. A second violation results in a three-month license suspension. A third violation results in a six-month license suspension.
Some traffic violations are criminal charges, such as DUI, Drag Racing, Exhibition of Speed, Reckless Driving, Hit and Run, and even Excessive Speed (20 miles an hour over the limit). If a person does not pay the ticket or go to court as required, a warrant will be issued for his arrest. If taken into custody on the warrant the violator may have to wait in jail to see a judge or until a future court date.
The court can also report the warrant to Motor Vehicle Division, which will result in the driver's license being suspended until the warrant is cleared up.