How to resolve problems in traffic ticket court
Traffic violations are one of the most common legal problems you can face in traffic ticket court. When handling fines in court, it's important to deal with any issues quickly to prevent problems from escalating.
What should you do if you can't make your court date?
Your traffic ticket may have a court date printed on it, or you might receive this date in the mail. In either case, you might find that you cannot make the selected date.
If you can't show up for your assigned court date, you can usually request a continuance, or postponement, with minimal hassle. It's crucial that you do so as soon as possible so you don't miss the deadline for moving your court date.
In some cases, an attorney can appear in court for you. If you're hiring a lawyer to help with your case, find out whether you need to be present for your court case, or if you can simply send your attorney.
What should you do if you've already missed your court date?
If you failed to appear in court, you should contact your lawyer or the court as soon as possible. If you've missed your court date, one or more of the following penalties might apply:
- A civil assessment imposed on your case
- A warrant issued for your arrest
- A hold placed on your license
- A hold placed on your vehicle registration
- A trial conducted and hearing determined in your absence
- A fine assigned to collection
What if you can't pay the fine?
If you're unable to pay the fine for a traffic violation, you should take action. Don't just ignore the fine hoping it will go unnoticed. Addressing the issue is the best way to resolve it.
If you believe you'll have enough money to pay your fines at a later date, request a continuance for your traffic court case. This will push the date back, giving you more time to save up for your fines
But even if you don't think you'll have enough money, go to your traffic court hearing and plead your case to the judge. If you're not guilty of the violation, you might be able to have the ticket dismissed entirely. If you're found guilty, you can still explain your situation and request a reduced fine.
If you're found guilty of the traffic violation, can't save enough money by your court date, and cannot get your fines significantly reduced, you have one more option. You can request that the court place you on a payment plan so you can pay the ticket over time.
Payment plans are rarely assigned, so you should arrive with compelling evidence for why you can't pay the ticket in full in a timely manner.
What can you do if you already have unpaid fines?
If you fail to pay a fine, it will generally increase over time. You might even have an arrest warrant issued for your failure to pay. Other consequences for failure to pay include:
- Driver's license suspension
- Increased car insurance premiums
- Having your car towed
- Inability to renew your license
- Inability to renew vehicle registration
If you're headed to traffic court for a new violation and have existing unpaid fines, it's important to resolve these as quickly as possible. A lawyer can help you sort through your case and find the best approach.
What if you have a warrant for missing court or not paying fines?
If you fail to appear in traffic court or pay your fines, the judge might issue a warrant for your arrest. If this happens, address it as soon as possible.
Contact the court right away discuss your warrant. You can often resolve the issue by appearing immediately to pay your fine. Hiring an attorney is often helpful if you're concerned about your ability to handle your fines.
If you ignore the warrant, you could be arrested at your home, at work, or during a routine traffic stop. If arrested, you'll have to post bond, arrive for a court date, and deal with additional fines.
If you're not sure about how to proceed, hire an attorney to help you navigate the next steps in your case.