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Traffic tickets hit poor drivers the hardest

All drivers in New York and around the country hate getting traffic tickets. However, the financial impact of traffic citations hits low-income drivers the hardest, according to research.

For the study, an economic researcher at Princeton University analyzed the financial burden that traffic tickets placed on Florida drivers. He did this by examining the affected drivers' individual credit report data and payroll information. He found that 4.5 million Florida drivers were issued traffic tickets between 2011 and 2015. He also found that more tickets were issued in low-income areas than in higher-income areas and that the impact of those tickets was greater to drivers living in low-income communities.

The study determined that the average Florida traffic citation carried a $175 fine. In addition, those tickets led to an average auto insurance premium increase of $120 per year. For low-income drivers, the financial costs associated with a traffic fine led to an uptick in late payments and unpaid bills, which negatively impacted their credit reports. Meanwhile, high-income drivers were barely impacted by the traffic fines and insurance increases. As a result of the findings, the study suggested that traffic fines lead some drivers into a poverty trap and could, therefore, be counterproductive to society. The study further suggested that traffic citations for violations with a low public safety risk should be eliminated.

New York drivers who are ticketed for traffic violations could turn to an attorney for help. The attorney could review the case and work to get the ticket thrown out of court. In some circumstances, legal counsel could also attempt to get a fine reduced or stop points from being added to a driver's record, which could ease the associated financial burdens.

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