Can Bankruptcy Help Discharge Traffic Tickets, Court Fines, and Road Tolls

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In a Nutshell

If you have any traffic tickets or court fines, then filing bankruptcy may help you get out of debt. You will first need to determine which Chapter of bankruptcy will be most helpful in your situation. At Upsolve we provide the tools you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. If you feel more comfortable using a bankruptcy lawyer we can help you find one.

Written by Attorney Karra Kingston.  
Updated July 22, 2020


If you are overwhelmed with debt that you can’t seem to get out from under, filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you. Chapter 7 bankruptcy allows you to eliminate your debts by discharging them. Once your debts are discharged, you are no longer responsible for paying them. In a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, most unsecured debts are dischargeable. Some examples of unsecured debts include credit cards and personal loans. It’s important to note that not all debts are dischargeable when you file bankruptcy. There are certain types of debts that you will still be responsible for even after going through the bankruptcy process. Certain debts such as student loans, child support, alimony payments, and certain tax debts are not dischargeable under the Bankruptcy Code. If you owe money to a federal, state or other government unit , you’ll not be able to eliminate these debts in your bankruptcy. The Bankruptcy Court wants to make sure that people are held responsible for breaking the law so wiping out government fines or penalties by filing for bankruptcy is not possible.

Can Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Discharge Traffic Fines?

Unfortunately, there are certain types of debts that are not discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy and traffic fines are one of them. The types of traffic fines that are non-dischargeable include: traffic violations, traffic tickets, parking tickets, toll violations and court fines. Even though these fines are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, you may be able to eliminate these debts by filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy instead. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will enter into a 3-5 year repayment plan which will allow you time to pay these fines off. This can be especially helpful if your driver’s license has been suspended. If you can show that you are in a bankruptcy repayment plan making monthly payments on your fines, you may be able to get your license reinstated. You can speak with a bankruptcy attorney to help you decide if you should file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy to help you.

Can Chapter 7 Bankruptcy Help Eliminate Other Court Fines 

Most Court fines are not dischargeable in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, there are a few types of court fines that can be discharged when you file bankruptcy. To determine if your Court fines are dischargeable you will need to assess whether the fine was imposed for punishment or reimbursement. If the fine was given to punish you for something you did, the fine will not be discharged. If, on the other hand, the fine was imposed because you owe the government money then it may be dischargeable. If you are not sure whether the fine is dischargeable, you should speak with a bankruptcy lawyer who can review your specific situation and give you legal advice as to whether your Court fines can be eliminated.

What about jail fees or other costs of incarceration?

Under the Bankruptcy Code, these fees are likely not dischargeable. However, depending on what the fee is for exactly, and who the fee is owed to, there may be an argument that can be made that this debt should be dischargeable. Whether your debt can be discharged can only be answered by a bankruptcy lawyer who is familiar with the details of your case.

Can I Get My Driver's License Back by Filing Bankruptcy?

Having your driver’s license suspended can put a lot of stress on you. If your driver’s license is suspended because you have not paid your debts, then you may be wondering if filing bankruptcy will help you get your driver’s license back. If your driver’s license was suspended due to traffic fines, violations, or parking tickets then you will not be able to get your license back by filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, entering into a Chapter 13 repayment plan can help. In a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, depending on the type of fines you incurred, you may only be required to pay back a small percentage of your debts. If you are unsure what kind of fines have been imposed against you, you can contact your local DMV for more information. If you file a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you will not have to wait for a discharge to get your license back. As long as you are paying back your fines in your monthly Chapter 13 plan then you can get your license reinstated immediately. One of the most common reasons a license can be suspended is from being in a car accident and not having insurance. If someone sues you, and you don’t have the funds to pay, your license can be suspended. Filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy may be able to help you. When you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, an automatic stay is initiated which stops creditors from going after you. If you file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy it can wipe out any debts you are liable for including debts, from car accidents as long as you were not drinking and driving. You can speak with a bankruptcy lawyer to determine what Chapter of bankruptcy would be best to file in your situation. 

What About Chapter 13 Bankruptcy?

If you are faced with traffic tickets, court fines, or violations then a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a good option for you. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy, is a good tool to use when you don’t qualify for a Chapter 7 bankruptcy or have debts that can’t be discharged in a Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Since filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy, will not get rid of traffic tickets, court fines, or parking tickets, a Chapter 13 bankruptcy may be a better option for you. A Chapter 13 bankruptcy can help you clear these types of debts by allowing you to pay them off in a repayment plan. So, if you don’t have the ability to pay these infractions right away Chapter 13 can give you time to get caught up. Sometimes, you may not even be required to pay the entire fine back depending on the type of fine. This is beneficial to people who are worried about having their license suspended or have already had their license suspended. As soon as you file your Chapter 13 bankruptcy you won’t have to wait three to five years to get your discharge to get your license back. Instead, you can get your driver’s license back immediately. Many people who are strapped for cash find that filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy is extremely helpful to allow them time to repay their fines and violations. If you need debt-relief and are thinking about filing a Chapter 13 bankruptcy, you should contact a bankruptcy attorney that can help you. 

Conclusion

If you have any traffic tickets or court fines, then filing bankruptcy may help you get out of debt. You will first need to determine which Chapter of bankruptcy will be most helpful in your situation. If you think a Chapter 13 will be the best route then speaking with a Bankruptcy attorney can he helpful. If you are overwhelmed with debt and are searching for debt-relief options filing a Chapter 7 bankruptcy can help you. At Upsolve we provide the tools you need to file a Chapter 7 bankruptcy without the help of a bankruptcy lawyer. You can begin by using our free tools to determine what chapter of bankruptcy you qualify for. If you feel more comfortable using a bankruptcy lawyer we can help you find one.



About the author
Attorney Karra Kingston

Ms. Kingston began her career as a bankruptcy attorney. She has appeared in front of many federal court judges and has helped numerous debtors obtain a fresh start. Ms. Kingston understands the complex federal rules for discharging debt. While working as a bankruptcy attorney, Ms... read more

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Upsolve is a 501(c)(3) nonprofit that started in 2016. Our mission is to help low-income families who cannot afford lawyers file bankruptcy for free, using an online web app. Spun out of Harvard Law School, our team includes lawyers, engineers, and judges. We have world-class funders that include the U.S. government, former Google CEO Eric Schmidt, and leading foundations. It's one of the greatest civil rights injustices of our time that low-income families can’t access their basic rights when they can’t afford to pay for help. Combining direct services and advocacy, we’re fighting this injustice.

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