If a law enforcement officer gives you a speeding ticket and tells you that you will have to appear in court, believe what he or she tells you. Many courts have what are called mandatory court appearances for various types of traffic offenses.
While speeding is not generally one of them, each state, county and municipality sets its own court rules. Your jurisdiction could be one of those that require you to make a court appearance for a speeding ticket. In all likelihood, the officer who gave you the ticket knew what he or she was talking about.
How to Tell if You Must Go to Court
Check it carefully. Does it show a court location, date and time? Does it fail to state a fine amount? Both of these strongly imply that you must appear in court. Your ticket should also show a court phone number. When in doubt, always call the court to verify if, when and where you must appear.
Mandatory Court Appearances
In general, the following types of tickets require a court appearance:
- Driving on a revoked or suspended license
- Driving without proper proof of insurance
- Any ticket issued as the result of your being involved in an accident
Failure to Appear
If you fail to appear in court when you’re supposed to, the judge may issue a bench warrant for your arrest. If this is the case, you now face a failure to appear charge in addition to the charge(s) listed on the ticket the officer gave you. It also means that police officers have the authority to arrest you whenever and wherever they find you. The most likely scenario is that they will pull you over and arrest you someday when you’re driving down the street, even if you’re not doing anything else illegal at the time.
Keep in mind that the court’s computer system is linked with those of the city, county, sheriff’s department(s) and other municipalities in the area. When the judge issues the bench warrant, this information goes into the computer system, along with your license plate number. Consequently, a great number of officers are on the lookout for you and your vehicle.
Contacting an Attorney
Even if your ticket lists a fine amount that you can pay online or by mail without going to court, you should not do this without first consulting a local traffic ticket lawyer. If you pay your ticket, it’s the same thing as pleading guilty to the charges – and that’s not always the truth.