Leveraging Bankruptcy To Address Traffic Fines And Toll Road Violations

Frustrated driver finds a parking ticket on their car's window.Traffic citations are issued for a variety of reasons, from speeding to failing to drive with insurance, to running a stop light. Speeding tickets are the most common type of traffic fine and they are often given out where they are least expected. Unfortunately, it is easy to drive a little too quickly while rushing off to work or doing a quick errand. Those who have extensive daily commutes or who regularly park in the city may be especially prone to toll road violations, parking tickets or other traffic fines.

Parts of Maryland and DC even utilize automated speed enforcement (ASE) systems to identify, photograph and issue tickets to those who may be driving in excess of the posted speed limit. The fines can add up quickly, and those who are issued multiple citations may face higher insurance rates, a suspended license, a court appearance or even jail time. Also, fines are not limited to a person’s state of residence. A recent Washington Post article indicated that Maryland and Virginia drivers had over $373 million in unpaid DC parking and traffic citations. Another article revealed that the Maryland Transportation Authority (MDTA) was seeing payment of approximately $100 million in unpaid tolls from Maryland drivers.

Accumulated tickets and toll fees on top of medical bills, credit card bills and other types of debt can result in a significantly stressful financial situation. Fortunately, there are several options to help address these fees and improve an individual’s financial health.

Making A Plan To Repay

Regardless of the situation, the Maryland Department of Transportation and Motor Vehicle Association (MVA) and the Maryland Transportation Authority often take aggressive actions to collect fines. Those with unpaid fines must contact Maryland’s Central Collection Unit (CCU) to set up a payment plan. However, only those meeting certain stipulations, such as not having a preexisting debt through the MVA, will qualify for a repayment plan. Those who do meet the repayment play qualifications, will still face a very costly predicament. The CCU has the right to assess a 17% collection fee on top of any existing fines.

Debts That Aren’t Dischargeable

Bankruptcy is often a practical solution to improve the financial security for those who are overwhelmed with growing debt. There are two types of bankruptcy: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can help determine which is most appropriate based on an individual’s unique financial situation. It is important to understand that certain types of debts are considered nondischargeable, meaning they cannot be wiped away in a bankruptcy. Child support, alimony, most student loans, some income tax debts and also traffic fines are examples of nondischargeable debts.

Bankruptcy And Traffic Fines

Although toll road fines and traffic tickets are considered to be nondischargeable, bankruptcy can still be a useful financial tool to help get these debts under control. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, sometimes referred to as “debt reorganization”, can enable an individual to establish a workable repayment plan for any debts that cannot be discharged. With this type of plan, the debtor generally gets a sensible timeline for repayment and is able to avoid incurring additional collection fees. Alternatively, for those who have a large amount of dischargeable debt (e.g. medical bills or credit card debt) and have an income below the Maryland median or meet the “Means Test”, it may be most advantageous to file for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under this scenario, the resulting reduction in financial obligations may free up more resources that can be put toward paying off any traffic or toll road fines.

Work With A Local Bankruptcy Attorney

No two financial profiles are the same. If you find yourself facing financial difficulty, contact an experienced local bankruptcy attorney to better understand all of your options. Contact Sirody & Associates for a consultation to learn if Chapter 7 or Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be right for you. Our bankruptcy attorneys will take the time to gain a thorough understanding of your unique situation and will outline different scenarios for you to consider.