Do You Have To Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket?

Receiving a traffic ticket is bad enough, but the police officer who issued the ticket might have told you that you need to appear in court. This can take an annoying situation and make it downright frustrating. But is it really true that you need to appear in court? Can’t you just pay the fine and be done with it? This guide will answer this question and explain what happens at a traffic court hearing. Remember, it is a good idea to speak with a traffic attorney to get accurate information for your state and advice for your unique legal situation.

Do You Have To Appear in Court?

It is true that some traffic tickets require a court appearance. This is usually the case for more severe violations or cases where your driving put someone in danger.

However, police officers are not the final authority on this matter. If an officer tells you that you need to appear in court, chances are quite high that he or she is right, but there always is the possibility that the officer is mistaken. You should do your own research or speak with an attorney to be certain.

It is also possible that an officer will not tell you that you need to appear in court, even though you do. The officer is not required to tell you, but the ticket itself should mention this requirement.

Your Court Appearance

There are two types of court appearances that you should be aware of:

  • Arraignment
  • Traffic Court Hearing

The arraignment is the first court appearance. Traffic court hearings are usually only required if you choose to contest a ticket. A ticket may require you to appear at your arraignment, but you always have the option to contest any traffic ticket and voluntarily appear in court.

At your arraignment, you will declare whether or not you intend to contest the ticket. If you are, a date will be set for your traffic court hearing. You can also request to have the fine reduced at your arraignment, and many judges are receptive to the suggestion. You can watch others who go before you to see how successful this request is.

If you contest your ticket, your traffic court hearing will primarily be an opportunity for you to present the evidence for why your ticket should be dismissed. The issuing officer must appear to argue against you. If the officer does not show up, your ticket will be dismissed immediately. You can learn more by speaking with a Traffic Violation Lawyer, like the lawyers at The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, to arrange a consultation.