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Fighting a ticket can save you a lot more money than you realize.

Getting a traffic ticket is expensive. Not only will you have to pay a big fine but also your insurer could raise your rates for three to five years as a result. One moving violation can cost you any good-driver discount you've been getting - worth up to 20 percent - although some companies let your first ticket slide. The insurer can also add a surcharge onto your policy - $150 per ticket added to your policy for three years in some states, for example, or a 20 percent price hike in others. A few states give you a free ride on one ticket within three years, but then allow insurers to boost your rate after that. A bad-enough driving record can land you in the higher-risk arm of the insurance company, which charges higher premiums, or could get you dropped.

 
   

The best strategy, of course, is to avoid getting tickets, but even if you do end up with a moving violation, you might be able to make it disappear in the insurance company's eyes. It can pay to go to court and fight the ticket. You could win for good reason or your case may be dismissed if the police officer doesn't show up.

You may still benefit even if you have to plead guilty. If you have a good driving record, some judges may reduce the fine and the points, or give you probation. If you don't get in trouble within the next year, the ticket may never show up on your record, and in some states, you can keep the ticket off your record by going to traffic school, although you may only be able to use that strategy once every year or two.

The effort can be worth it. Even if you get stuck paying the full fine, if the judge reduces the number of points you could end up preserving a safe-driver discount, avoid an insurance surcharge, and save a few hundred dollars in premiums for three years or more.

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