Don’t Panic: What to Teach Your Teen When They Get a Ticket

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Admit it—even as a “responsible adult” you’ve been guilty of going speeds humans were never naturally intended to go, either to get to the store before it closed or because you were late to an appointment. And you’ve probably had Mr. No-Nonsense Cop come and ignore your perfectly reasonable explanation for why you were going 75 in a 35 mph zone and for why you definitely didn’t see that stop sign. Nobody wants to get ticketed, but driving mistakes happen. While it can be stressful for adults, a ticket can be especially scary for a teen driver who’s never had to deal with something like this before. Though you can’t protect your child from everything, you can help him or her to be prepared. Here are four things you can teach your teen to do if they ever get a ticket.

Remain Calm

While it may be tempting to get angry or cry when confronted by an officer, remind your teen that getting a ticket, even if they were being reckless, is not the worst thing in the world. Teach them how to speak to a police officer politely with their hands in the 10 and 2 o’clock positions on the wheel, and to inform the officer when they are about to reach for their license. These safety measures may seem overboard to some, but it is always best to be calm and careful to avoid misunderstandings.

Assess What Happened After

It’s never a good idea to argue with the person giving the ticket, but it’s perfectly fine to talk to your teen about the situation later. Sometimes tickets are earned because of reckless driving, but sometimes tickets are given due to minor offences. Talk with your teen about what happened without any kind of judgment. The more your teen feels he or she can talk to you, the more you’ll learn about the situation. Was it truly a mistake or does your teen need to be taught better driving habits? 

Pay It

If the ticket wasn’t given because of a complicated mishap, teach your teen how to pay it on time. Small things, like parking violations, are typically cheap and easy to take care of. If your teen doesn’t have any money, give them chores to do so that even though you will pay it off in a timely manner, your teen will still feel a sense of punishment.

Pursue in Court

An important piece of information your teen should understand is that everyone has the right to contest their tickets in court. If your teen feels the ticket was wrongly given and has evidence that he or she did no wrong, there’s a strong chance your teen can avoid having to pay the ticket altogether. Though not the option you should pursue first, it’s important that your teen understand the choices available in the matter.

Lawyer Up

If the ticket is about a more serious offense, it’s smart to bring in a traffic ticket lawyer. With their knowledge of local laws and the legal system, they’ll have a much easier time building a case for you. Sometimes this means they can clear you of all charges, other times this means getting a fine or punishment reduced. Either way, definitely weigh the pros and cons of paying the ticket versus fighting it.

As brand new drivers, teens will incur traffic tickets from time to time. Make sure your teen knows their options when dealing with the various types of tickets they might run into. Regardless of which one they might have to face, the most important thing is to teach them to take responsibility for their actions—and also to set a good example. It could just be teenage recklessness of course, but you know, they do get it from somewhere!

Brooke Chaplan is a freelance writer and blogger. She lives and works out of her home in Los Lunas, New Mexico. She loves the outdoors and spends most of her time hiking, biking, and gardening. For more information, contact Brooke via Facebook at or Twitter @BrookeChaplan

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