Getting a speeding ticket is nothing more than a nuisance in most cases. You pay the fine, maybe you consult with an attorney, and you go on about your business. But if you are having financial troubles, a speeding ticket or other traffic citation can be a major blow. You may be struggling to figure out how you’re going to pay your mortgage this month, so a ticket that carries a fine and potential attorney fees can throw a major wrench into your finances.
When things are getting this bad, it might be time to consider filing for bankruptcy. Depending on what type of bankruptcy you file, you might be able to get your unsecured debts discharged (eliminated), or you might be able to negotiate a repayment plan that makes your monthly expenses more manageable.
Not all debts are discharged in a bankruptcy filing. Some people have questions about things like tax debts or student loans. Others are particularly interested in court fines and penalties. Here’s what you need to know:
Traffic fines are the most common government fines that the average person will get. You can get fines for speeding, parking in the wrong spot, driving with a broken headlight, and other minor infractions. Of course, you can also be fined for more serious infractions, such as driving under the influence or reckless driving.
Unfortunately, traffic fines cannot be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. You will have to pay these no matter what your financial situation is.
Government Fines and Penalties
There are many other situations in which you might have to pay a government fine or penalty. You might be fined paying music at your party a little too late. Or you might get a fine if your dog gets out of the fence and is caught running around the neighborhood.
Again, any fines or penalties you owe to a court or other government entity cannot be discharged in a bankruptcy filing. You will be left with these bills, no matter what else happens in your bankruptcy.
How Bankruptcy Can Help with Fines
Though you can’t discharge court or government fines or penalties in a bankruptcy filing, there are other ways that filing for bankruptcy can help with these expenses.
If you file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you can free yourself from excessive debts, such as credit cards with high balances and huge medical bills. When you no longer have to pay off those balances, you will have a lot more money each month, and that should give you the means to pay off your court fines and penalties.
If you file for Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will have a debt repayment plan that will make it easier for you to pay each month. You will have one monthly payment in an amount that is manageable for your finances. In many scenarios, it is possible to include some court fines and penalties in your Chapter 13 repayment plan.
Working with an Attorney
A good attorney can help you fight charges that result in court fines and penalties. Though you might feel like you can’t afford the legal help, hiring an attorney can actually save you money in the long run. Depending on the circumstances of your case, your attorney might be able to get the charges dismissed and the fines dropped. Your attorney might also keep charges off your record, which can help with things like keeping your car insurance low, ensuring that you are able to get a job, and ensuring that you are able to get better credit.
An experienced bankruptcy attorney will help you understand your financial options and what the best debt-relief plan might be for you. Mesa Bankruptcy Lawyers can help you understand how bankruptcy can help you, and My AZ Lawyers can help you with things like criminal charges, traffic violations, DUI cases, and personal injury claims, among other legal matters. Contact My AZ Lawyers to talk about the fines and penalties you are facing and to explore your legal options for evading the charges or minimizing the fines. Our attorneys will do everything they can to help you avoid penalties and to get back on firm financial footing.