What happens if I don’t pay a traffic ticket?

No one likes to pay a traffic ticket. Some go so far as to ignore the ticket, hoping it will fall through the cracks of the court system. People who live in other states may think that the local government will not pursue them if they are not a resident.

Unfortunately, not paying a traffic ticket can lead to several unpleasant surprises.

Most states have reciprocity agreements concerning traffic tickets. That means that the states share information about violators. In other words, if you receive a traffic ticket while visiting Arizona, you could face consequences back home.

Here are some of the things that could happen if you fail to pay a traffic ticket:

  • The amount you owe could increase if you do not pay it by the deadline.
  • In addition to the points associated with the violation, you could accumulate more points for nonpayment of the ticket. More points could lead to higher insurance rates and driver’s license suspension.
  • Arizona could charge you with a misdemeanor for ignoring the ticket and issue an arrest warrant.
  • If you are stopped by police and you have unpaid tickets on your record, you could be arrested.
  • The court could suspend your driver’s license. Even if you are licensed in a different state, your home state driver’s license could be suspended under a reciprocity agreement.

Ignoring a ticket now will only mean higher costs down the road. You could hire a lawyer to defend you in traffic court. However, the cost of hiring a lawyer is likely to be much higher than the cost of paying the ticket.

The cost of hiring a lawyer may be worthwhile if you are charged with a criminal traffic violation, such as reckless driving or excessive speeding, or if you have other violations on your driving record. A conviction for a criminal traffic violation can have employment and other consequences.

Learn more: I received a traffic ticket. What’s next?