Can You Put Fines for a Traffic Ticket on a Bankruptcy?

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Traffic tickets can be handled in a bankruptcy case.
Traffic tickets can be handled in a bankruptcy case. (Image: Keith Brofsky/Photodisc/Getty Images)

All outstanding debts, including traffic ticket fines, should be included in a bankruptcy case. Whether you will remain responsible for paying the fines depends on the chapter of bankruptcy filed and whether the fines were issued for civil or criminal violations. If the fines are not dischargeable, the elimination of other debts can make it easier to pay the fines during the bankruptcy or after the bankruptcy case is closed.

Bankruptcy Petition

Unpaid traffic ticket fines need to be revealed to the bankruptcy court. Information regarding the traffic ticket debts should be included in the bankruptcy petition. The Bankruptcy Forms section of the U.S. Courts website provides a copy of the petition for debtors. Provide the names and addresses of the government entities that are supposed to receive the payments. State the total amount of the fines including any late fees or interest that has accrued since the tickets were issued.

Traffic Tickets in Chapter 7 Bankruptcy

Individuals who don’t have enough disposable income to set up a payment plan for their debts tend to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Under this chapter of bankruptcy, cases are usually completed within a few months. Fines or penalties payable to government entities are not dischargeable in Chapter 7 cases, according to section 523 of the Bankruptcy Code. Therefore, any outstanding traffic tickets need to be paid. If the tickets are not paid off during the bankruptcy, the government entity can continue collection attempts after the bankruptcy case is closed.

Traffic Tickets in Chapter 13 Bankruptcy

Chapter 13 bankruptcy is an option for people who are able to create a payment plan for their debts. Chapter 13 cases often last from three to five years. Criminal fines cannot be discharged in Chapter 13 cases, according to section 1328 of the Bankruptcy Code. Fines issued as a penalty for a criminal conviction must be paid. If the fines are for civil infractions, it is possible to get them discharged in the bankruptcy case. The Bankruptcy Code doesn’t directly address the discharge status of civil penalties. Finding out if those types of fines are eligible for discharge depends on the case law in the jurisdiction where the Chapter 13 bankruptcy case is filed.

Payment Status of Traffic Tickets

Each state has different classifications for criminal and civil traffic offenses. An experienced bankruptcy attorney can confirm if your traffic tickets are dischargeable. Even if the fines are eligible for discharge, the bankruptcy court will pay the government entity if it is feasible to do so. Based on your financial circumstances, the attorney will let you know if any of your money or assets will be used to pay the fines during the bankruptcy. Failure to resolve traffic ticket fines can lead to greater problems, such as increased monetary penalties and license suspension.

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