Some people view a traffic ticket as a nuisance that can be ignored. They won’t show up to court and will not send a lawyer to court on their behalf. Instead they miss their court date and believe that the charge will eventually go away or resolve itself on its own. Others assume that they can deal with it when they feel like it and that the penalties will not get any worse because they are late. However, both of these approaches are quite wrong.
If a traffic ticket is ignored, it will not go away. Instead, it may get worse. When no one appears at court for the charge, the clerk notes a “Call and Fail,” which means that your case was called, but no attorney was representing you and you did not appear at court. After this has occurred, a defendant has 20 days to attempt to get the case scheduled for hearing, or to pay the court costs and fines. If the defendant does not contact the Clerk’s office within 20 days, then “Failure to Appear” is written on the file. The court adds a $200 late fee to any court costs or fines otherwise imposed by the court. This is obviously and unnecessary expense that you should try to avoid.
The clerk notifies the Division of Motor Vehicles of the Failure to Appear. The Division sends a letter to the person’s last known address on file to let the person know that his or her license will be cancelled if the traffic ticket is not addressed within 60 days. This 60 day period begins running from the day that the clerk marks the file with Failure to Appear. If the defendant does nothing to deal with the charge during this 60 day timeframe, then the Division of Motor Vehicles will suspend the person’s license indefinitely. An indefinite suspension will keep going on until the underlying charge that you have not dealt with has been resolved. For many people, this is worse than the additional $200 penalty.
If your license is suspended indefinitely, and you are pulled over, or your license is checked at a checkpoint, an officer can charge you with driving with license revoked (DWLR). At this point, the charges can begin to “snowball.” What started out as a relatively simple matter became much more complex, very quickly. Going to an Assistant District Attorney to negotiate a deal may be much more difficult if it is shown that a person has a long list of unaddressed charges. However, if you already have failed to appear at court, and you need someone to help you resolve your ticket and get your license reinstated, give us a call. We can work to take care of those unresolved issues and minimize the impact on your life.
The takeaway from this article is that it is better to deal with a traffic ticket when it occurs. If you are handling a ticket yourself, be sure to go to court on your court date. If you hire an attorney, you may not need to be present, depending on what you are charged with. Deal with the traffic ticket while it is a simple nuisance, and don’t let it become a major problem “down the road.” If you would like to speak with an attorney about resolving your traffic matter, do not hesitate to give us a call.