It’s stressful seeing those flashing lights in your rearview mirror and realizing you’re the subject of a traffic stop. It’s usually a relief when you can finally you go on your way, even with a ticket and maybe even when you’re innocent.

If you’re from another county or another state, do you have any realistic options for challenging that ticket? Or do they have you right where they want you?

The hidden expenses of tickets in Georgia

Whether or not you earned the ticket, everyone has a right to challenge it in court to try to get the penalties reduced or even dropped. Especially in Georgia, you certainly might want to challenge it, and for some, this can be an urgent necessity and a financial emergency.

A recent study has cast a bright light on Georgia’s system of surcharges, which can sometimes double the cost of a ticket. It found that driving with suspended license typically costs less than $290 in Minnesota, for example, while a comparable citation in Georgia may ultimately cost as much as $1,000.

A violation can also increase your car insurance and might even get your license suspended or revoked, which almost always means increased expense and missed financial opportunities.

A huge help in a big state

With 159 counties and a seven-hour drive from Okefenokee Swamp to Fort Oglethorpe, Georgia is a big state. And challenging a ticket usually means showing up in court on a specific date bright eyed and well prepared.

Traffic tickets come in all shapes and sizes in Georgia, and different jurisdictions across the state have different criteria for whether you must appear. The type of violation, your age, and even whether you’re a Georgia resident may be considered, depending on the local statutes.

If traveling to Georgia or to a certain location in the state will be a burden or impossible, it’s important that you act immediately, or as soon as possible. Contact an attorney with extensive experience in the jurisdiction.

The judges in municipal, county and state courts often have leeway to grant requests from defendants or their counsel, assuming the requests are reasonable considering the laws and traditions of the court. The earlier in the process these proposals are raised, the better your chances for finding solutions to your legal, financial and geographic problems.

A possible result is that you will keep your court date by authorizing your attorney to appear on your behalf.