Answer: When a traffic ticket is issued, a court case is created that can end several different ways. Finding of not guilty, dismissal of charges, or a finding of guilty are just a few of these. In traffic court, guilty judgments are divided into two categories: convictions and court supervisions. In general, the big difference is what impact it can have on your driving privileges, insurance, employment, and record.
A conviction (also called conditional discharge) is a sentence which appears on your public driving record. This record is available for insurance companies and employers to access and can result in higher rates and lost job opportunities respectively. It also can harm your license resulting in points on your license, suspensions, or revocations of your privileges.
Court supervision by contrast is an alternative to conviction. The court sets a period of time (1-12 months usually but up to 24) where no new tickets can be received and all terms of your sentence must be completed (may include traffic school, fines, community service, etc). If these terms are successfully met, the case is terminated without a conviction. No conviction means that employers and insurance companies won’t see it on your public driving record keeping your rates down and employers in the dark (this privacy however does not exist for commercial driver’s license holders). In addition, because it is not a conviction, in almost all instances, supervision will not harm a license. Beware that some offenses like underage alcohol possession can still affect one’s license even with court supervision.
For more information on what offenses are eligible for court supervision, how a conviction/court supervision will affect your license, or what you can do to avoid a conviction, schedule a free consultation with a traffic attorney.