It is possible to discharge traffic tickets in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. Many lawyers will tell you that you cannot discharge traffic tickets in chapter 7 at all; and, that you have to file a chapter 13. However, that is not true. This is one of the funny technicalities of the Bankruptcy Code that less experienced lawyers overlook.
Section 523(a)(7) of the Bankruptcy Code provides that fines, penalties, or forfeitures are non-dischargeable in bankruptcy. If you stop reading after the first sentence than you might think that you cannot discharge a traffic ticket in a chapter 7 bankruptcy. However, subsection B provides that a fine, penalty, or forfeiture is dischargeable if the transaction or event occur in more than three years before that date of the petition filing.
It is important that your bankruptcy lawyer understand this rule. A chapter 7 is faster and less expensive than a chapter 13. If the traffic tickets that are holding up your driver’s license are more than three years old, then you do not have to file a chapter 13 bankruptcy.
A good bankruptcy lawyer listens and asks questions. In Washington State, it is possible to go to the department of licensing website and find out exactly which tickets are holing up your license. If your bankruptcy lawyer does not ask the right questions or do the right background check before selecting a chapter for you, then you may end up in a chapter 13 case and you could just filed a chapter 7.
One of the major themes of this site, and one of the goals of my bankruptcy practice, is to find the right fit for each client. I bring years of expertise to my practice. So when you are dealing with something that gets into the technicalities of bankruptcy law – like discharging traffic tickets – make sure that your bankruptcy lawyer gets all the facts and knows what to do with them. You may be able to get your driver’s license back using a chapter 7 bankruptcy, which is faster and cheaper than filing chapter 13 bankruptcy.