Most people know that when you receive a traffic ticket, you can take it to an attorney to have the ticket “fixed,” or “amended.” But what does that mean, exactly?
The first thing you should know is what the consequences are for receiving a ticket. The biggest consequence, and the one that drives most people to have their tickets amended, is a potential increase in your car insurance rate. Each time your insurance company goes to renew your policy—and sometimes, at random intervals throughout your policy—they check your driving record for any new moving violations. If they find any, they will most likely increase your rate.
So how can “amending” a ticket help? When you hire an attorney to get your ticket “amended,” the attorney will request the prosecutor to change the original charge—for example, speeding—to a non-moving violation. Non-moving violations in general do not affect your insurance rates, and if you live in a state with a driver’s license “point system,” like Missouri, non-moving violations will not result in points being assessed to your record.
If the prosecutor agrees to “amend” your ticket to a non-moving violation, you will typically have to pay the court a higher fine than you would have paid for the original charge. Fine amounts vary depending on the type of ticket you originally received, as well as what municipality you received it in. However, if you do not get it amended, and pay for the ticket as-is, you are pleading guilty to a moving violation, and it will go on your driving record. Over time, you will likely end up paying more in insurance costs than you would have paid the court for the amended ticket.
In short, you are deciding whether it is best to pay a large fine all at once, or an even higher amount a little at a time via higher insurance rates.