USA Michigan Speeding Ticket Court Thing as UK Resident can I ignore?
August 16, 2016 11:14 PM   Subscribe

I got a speeding ticket in Michigan a few days ago (in a Rental Car) on the way to the Airport before heading back home to the UK. The ticket says something about contacting local US court within 10 days and that "a person who fails to answer a citation is guilty of a misdemeanour". So what's the deal as a UK resident (and not American)? Should I just pay it? Or ignore it? Or contact the court by phone/mail and try and get the fine lowered / waived?

I am likely to be back in Michigan in future - next year probably and may be driving again while there.

If I wanted to pay it, where in the UK can I get a US denominated money order or check anyway? (which is what it says to send by post?)
posted by anonymous to Law & Government (8 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
If you are going to be in Michigan driving again you should definitely pay it or otherwise act on it; in many states (including Michigan) unpaid speeding tickets can eventually end with a bench warrant out for your arrest which would be very, very unpleasant should you ever be pulled over again.
posted by charmedimsure at 11:20 PM on August 16, 2016 [11 favorites]

Many rental car companies have a policy of either paying the ticket and charging you for it (via the credit card you used for the rental) or they have an agreement with a collection agency. You might check the website of the rental agency to see what their policy might be.
posted by metahawk at 11:26 PM on August 16, 2016 [1 favorite]

If you don't pay it, the rental car company will charge the card you used. It will be a lot more expensive than just paying the ticket.

Nowadays you can usually pay speeding tickets online in most jurisdictions. This may not be the case if you got pulled over in a tiny town, but a city or major suburban area will probably be very easy to just pay and move on.

If you were actually speeding, you have no other real options but to pay it.
posted by Sara C. at 11:38 PM on August 16, 2016 [2 favorites]

Where can I buy a postal/money order in US Dollars? (in the UK).

Agree with paying it to avoid potentially serious problems on future visits. And also because it's just the right thing to do.
posted by plep at 1:08 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

You may find the rental company has already paid it - happened to me, but I had paid it myself too and it was a bugger to get the refund off them.
posted by tinkletown at 6:53 AM on August 17, 2016

You should just pay it. Does the county have an on-line ticket payment set up? When i got a ticket in Michigan on the way to the airport in a rental car, i was able to log into a website and pay the ticket by credit card. This way no money order is necessary.
posted by Suffocating Kitty at 7:20 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

To be clear, if you don't pay it, and the rental company doesn't pay it on your behalf, there's a decent chance that a bench warrant will eventually get issued, which is very bad news.

A bench warrant means that if you get pulled over again, or otherwise come to the notice of the police in Michigan, it is now Go to Jail, Do Not Pass Go, Do Not Collect $200. You will likely spend the night in jail until the cops can drag you in front of a judge, because you have already demonstrated that you can't be trusted to show up at an appointed court date. If it happens over the weekend, you could spend a couple of days as a guest of the local law enforcement authorities. The sad truth is that there is no guarantee that you will be treated well (or even humanely) while you are in custody. Lots of local law enforcement is good and ethical and humane, but every couple of years there is a major news story about someone who was accidentally left in a cell over the weekend without food or water because some incompetent forgot about them.

Sure, the ultimate probability of any of this happening is probably pretty low, but why risk it over a couple hundred bucks?
posted by firechicago at 8:02 AM on August 17, 2016 [1 favorite]

In Michigan, misdemeanor convictions can be punished, depending upon severity of the specific misdemeanor, by terms of up to 93, 365, or 730 days in jail/prison.

If you plan to ever come back to Michigan (or, really, the United States), I recommend paying it.

If you live here and have money, it is unlikely that things would come to a jail sentence over this, but even then you could still be arrested and spend many more hours (or days) in jail than you would prefer to. Also, you don't live here, which probably wouldn't help.

I would like to say that it "couldn't hurt" to write a letter to the court to ask for the fine to be lowered. But I have heard stories from enough friends who took a traffic case to court and [claimed to have] ended up with a larger fine that I'm not entirely sure that is safe, either.
posted by Juffo-Wup at 8:07 PM on August 17, 2016

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