How to Request a Deferred Adjudication for a Traffic Ticket

By Tracie Harris
Police officer handing a convertible driver a traffic ticket.

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When you receive a traffic citation, you generally have two options. You can pay the ticket before the court date written on the citation or appear in court on that date. If you cannot appear in court on that date, you can try to secure a continuance.

Preparation

Gather the proper contact information for the clerk of the appropriate court. Your ticket will list the court that holds jurisdiction over your offense.

Prepare your answer as to why you need a continuance. Acceptable reasons to request deferred adjudication in most jurisdictions include health reasons, family responsibilities, your work schedule, or a conflict with school or vacation plans. You may also ask for a deferment if you need more time to prepare your case.

Call the phone number listed on your ticket. Confirm your court date and ask how the court prefers to receive requests for deferred adjudication (by phone call, in person or by mail).

Request Deferred Adjudication By Phone

Start the process of requesting a deferred adjudication by calling at least two weeks before your court date.

Ask to speak to the appropriate clerk.

Have all of your documentation nearby when you call. Clearly state why you need a continuance. Write down your new court date and the name of the person who helped you.

Request the Deferred Adjudication in Person

Verify by phone the office or courtroom you need to visit.

Take the original citation and your documentation as to why you need a different court date with you, along with copies in case you need to leave them with the court.

Do not leave without written verification of your new court date and the name of the person who granted it.

Requesting Deferred Adjudication by Mail

Write a short, simple letter explaining why you need a later court date. Provide only the relevant details. Include the citation number and your driver's license number on the letter.

Make copies of your citation, letter of request and documentation to send to the court. The court may or may not need documentation to prove the reasonableness of your request. Send it to ensure a successful request.

Send your request by registered mail, and request a return receipt so that you have proof of when you asked for a delayed court date.

Call the court if you have not received an answer by three days before your court date.

Requesting a Deferred Adjudication in an Emergency

Take action promptly if you planned to appear in court on your appointed day but something unexpected happens that prevents you from appearing. Not showing up may result in a fine, the suspension of your driver's license or the issuance of an arrest warrant against you.

Call the court as soon as you realize you will not be appearing in court. Explain your situation calmly, and ask for guidance.

If your court will not accept phone calls, send someone in your place as a representative.

About the Author

Tracie Harris lives in Atlanta and has been writing lifestyle articles since 2008. W.W. Norton is publishing her work in "The Seagull Guide" due out in 2011. Her writing has also appeared in "The Historian" and The Good Cook. Harris is a former social studies teacher. She holds a B.A. in history and secondary education from Agnes Scott College.