Can I File Bankruptcy To Deal With My Traffic Tickets?

Published: Sep 22, 2020 in Traffic Offenses

Traffic fines and tickets can be a serious burden on anyone’s budget. If you have been on the receiving end of one too many tickets, you may be wondering whether bankruptcy can help

Bankruptcy is a legal tool for individuals and businesses who have more debt than they can handle. There are two primary forms of bankruptcy for individuals: Chapter 7 and Chapter 13 bankruptcy. Both result in a bankruptcy discharge, which is a court order banning creditors from ever trying to collect the money they’re owed.

How are the two types of bankruptcy different? 

Chapter 7 bankruptcy is the most commonly filed type of personal bankruptcy. It’s a relatively short process, often lasting no more than 6 months from the date the case is filed with the court. Assuming the debtor meets all requirements, shows up to their meeting of creditors, and completes the mandatory financial management course, their discharge is usually granted within 3 – 4 months from filing. 

Chapter 13 bankruptcy takes between 3 – 5 years and includes a repayment plan. While the case is pending, the debtor makes regular monthly payments to a Chapter 13 trustee. The trustee in turn uses the money to pay the filer’s debts in order of priority. All of this is done pursuant to a repayment plan the filer proposes and the court approves. The discharge is granted only after the debtor has completed all of the payments under the plan.

Does filing bankruptcy erase all debts? 

No, there are certain “non-dischargeable” debts that will survive a bankruptcy filing. Common examples of debts bankruptcy doesn’t eliminate are tax debts, domestic support obligations like child support and alimony, and for the most part – student loans. Neither Chapter 7 nor Chapter 13 bankruptcy can discharge these types of debts. However, some debts that can’t be eliminated in a Chapter 7 are dischargeable in a Chapter 13.

Traffic fines can only be discharged in Chapter 13 bankruptcy

One of the exceptions to discharge in a Chapter 7 case are fines and penalties owed to a governmental unit, including traffic tickets. They can, however, be discharged in a Chapter 13 case as long as they are not considered a criminal fine. If your traffic issues have resulted in a criminal fine, Chapter 13 may still be useful as it will give you a way to repay the fine over 3 – 5 years. 


Whether filing bankruptcy is right for you depends on more than the type of debt you have. If you make too much money, you may not qualify for Chapter 7 bankruptcy. If you have too many assets, you may not want to file Chapter 7 bankruptcy. Plus, as with everything in life, there are pros and cons to seeking bankruptcy protection. Your best bet for finding out whether bankruptcy is right for you is to speak to a bankruptcy lawyer in your area.