Have you ever forgotten to pay a ticket? Do you check your mailbox every day? Even if you have a student or tourist visa, you cannot leave the country without paying traffic tickets. It’s not as simple as you think. Below is a true story about a new immigrant, Jack.

This week, Jack (alias), who just immigrated to Los Angeles, was driving normally and did not violate any traffic laws, but was suddenly pulled over. The police officer asked him to step out of the car, and claimed that he was wanted. So he was handcuffed and forced to spend a night in the police station. With the help of a lawyer and interpreter, he was finally released and exempted from prosecution, but paid fines of thousands of dollars. This is all because Jack ignored his speeding ticket and missed the notice from court while he was traveling abroad.

Many immigrants tend to ignore mail due to poor understanding of English, which results in missing the fine payment due date or even the court date. This mistake will COST YOU SO MUCH in the United States!

A Traffic Ticket to a Bench Warrant… 

There are two types of traffic tickets in the states. The first one is where you just pay the fine and the other is to pay the fines AND go to the court. My personal experience is that if you get caught missing the registration renewal at the DMV, you will receive a courtesy notice.

A different scenario is that if you don’t pay the ticket by the due date, your fines will increase, and your license may be suspended. Furthermore, you might have to appear in court to fight it.

If you fail to appear in court by the certain date, you may be held in contempt of court, and a bench warrant will be issued for your arrest.

Immigration and Citizenship Will Be Just a Dream…

How bad will the records affect you? Even if it’s just a warrant from traffic tickets, you may lose eligibility if you’re planning to apply for immigration or naturalization.

For those who come to the States to study or visit, you will not get away with it by simply leaving the country. Unpaid tickets and failure to appear in court will stay on the record under your name, affecting your application for a visa if you wish to come to America in the future.

According to the officers, when tourists or students violate traffic laws, police officers will mark a series of numbers on the ticket that goes on your record.

So, if you register a California driver’s license under the same name when tickets were issued, the DMV system can track you down with your name and date of birth. In other words, DMV and law enforcement will be able to see your violation records, points, and unpaid tickets.

How Traffic Tickets Affect Your Auto Insurance

When you violate traffic laws, not only will you face fines and points on your driver’s license, but your auto insurance premium will also increase! For example, not making a complete stop at a stop sign will get you a point. However, more serious offenses such as a DUI or driving without a valid license will not be just a point. Police officers can impound your vehicle and suspend your license.

All insurance companies have the ability to order reports that show driving and claim records. Once you have points on your license, you may lose the “Good Driver Discount”, and your premium will likely increase upon renewal.

A traffic ticket will affect your auto insurance premium for 3 years, and the adjustment to premiums for violations may vary among insurance companies.

The good news is that you can remove points and lower premiums by going to traffic school. However, if you get two points within 18 months, even though you can remove one point, your premium will go up after a second violation. If you’re facing this situation, you might want to contact your agent to see what insurance carrier can provide the best price for you.

 

New immigrants and foreign students often get in trouble by neglecting traffic tickets. Forgetting about your traffic tickets in a timely manner can slip your mind pretty easily, especially when traveling abroad or moving to a new place. As a friendly reminder, you will generally receive a ticket 2 or 3 weeks after getting pulled over by the police, so please do not forget to check your mail!