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Avoid court (and costs), if you can

American Government Special Collections Reference Desk

McHenry County, Illinois

Avoid court (and costs), if you can

Gus Philpott
Woodstock Advocate
February 22, 2011

Today I was helping a young man deal with a couple of traffic tickets. He had been issued a speeding ticket recently, and he didn't have proof of insurance in the car, so he got a ticket for that, too.

No problem. He deserved both.

The tickets were marked Must Appear, but the officer had told him that he could take proof of insurance and his insurance ticket would be dismissed.

When I called the courthouse last week for information, a court clerk explained that he, the driver, could take proof of insurance to a window on the first floor. Of course, it would have to show that the insurance was in effect at the time of the traffic stop. When we got to the courthouse today, it turned out that the faxed copy of the insurance card from his agent was not acceptable as proof of insurance.

He needed to have 1) the actual insurance card; 2) the policy; or 3) a letter from the insurance agent on insurance agency letterhead.

Here's the exact information: www.co.mchenry.il.us/departments/circuitclerk/Pages/NoInsuranceTickets.aspx

So today's trip was wasted.

The court clerk was very helpful on the phone last week and explained that, after the insurance ticket was dismissed, then the speeding ticket could be changed to "Payment", avoiding a court appearance and saving the new level of minimum court costs - $125.

I believed that it would be important for this driver to go to Traffic School and to obtain Supervision as part of the judgement for his Guilty plea, because then (hopefully) his speeding ticket would not be reported to the DMV at the Illinois Secretary of State's office. Ticket information is used by insurance companies to calculate risk and premium rates.

Here are his choices:
Pay $120 and be done with it. Conviction goes on the driver's license record; or
Pay $155 and attend the four-hour Traffic School class (includes Supervision); or
Pay $170 and take the four-hour Traffic School class online (includes Supervision).

If you know you're guilty, or you believe you'd lose in court if you fought a ticket, then you want to pay at the window and avoid getting soaked for an extra $125 for saying Hello to the judge.

If you're a gambler or believe you are not guilty or that you can beat the charge in court, then you can roll the dice and go for a win. If you are successful in court, you'll be found not guilty and pay no fine and no court costs. If you lose, do not pass Go, do not collect $200, fork over an extra $125 to keep the lights on in the courtroom and hope the judge will then grant Supervision.

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