What are the Differences Between a Traffic Ticket, Summons, and Arrest?

Anyone who is a driver knows that no matter how careful you are, you may end up getting a traffic violation at some point in your lifetime. If this happens, you should know that there are different ways to be served, and there are different options that you have. There are three different ways that a person can be served for a traffic violation in Connecticut. The first is simply a traffic ticket, the second is a summons, and the third is an arrest.

Traffic Tickets

If you are issued a traffic ticket after being pulled over, there are several options you have when dealing with that ticket. You must respond to the ticket in some capacity. You can respond to the ticket before the answer date that is listed on the ticket, by pleading no contest or not guilty. In pleading no contest, you are essentially not admitting or denying the charges that have been brought against you, and are agreeing to pay the fine. At this point, if you pay the fine, you do not receive a court date, you pay the fine, and the charge may go on your driving history, and points may be assessed to your driver’s license.

If you decide that you do not want to plead no contest and pay the fine, you can contact an attorney, who will then send in an appearance and will receive a court date for you. Or, you can send the ticket in yourself, pleading not guilty, and wait for a court date. Keep in mind that if you do not answer the ticket by the answer date listed, your case will automatically be transferred to court, the DMV will be notified, your license will be suspended, and you will need to pay a $60 fee to reopen the case with the clerk’s office at the courthouse.


Another way to be served for a traffic violation is by way of a summons. A summons takes the place of an actual arrest, and instead of being arrested, being taken to jail, and then released on promise to appear in court, all these steps are passed. You are simply summoned to court to face your charges. A summons is more serious than a traffic ticket because you must appear for your court date, and if you do not, then you may be subject to an arrest and will face new charges. A summons is usually issued for motor vehicle offenses including reckless driving or evading responsibility.


Finally, it is possible to be arrested for motor vehicle offenses. These could include DUIs, evading responsibility, hit-and-run charges, and risk of injury to a minor. If you are arrested, you may be taken into custody and processed, before getting released and paying a bond. If you are released, you are out on a promise to appear for your court date. Getting arrested means that you are facing criminal charges. In this situation, it is extremely important to look for an attorney who can help you fight against the possibility of conviction.

Getting Help

If you have received a traffic ticket, summons, or been arrested for a motor vehicle offense, call our office at 203-567-6474 to speak with an attorney about fighting your charges.

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