A person seeking a continuance on a traffic ticket may get one by contacting the court. In many jurisdictions, the court requires that a request for a continuance be in writing. Yet courts vary on this point. A party should read the rules of the court before submitting a request.
Filing a Request in Person
A party may file a written request in person at the court. If there is an outstanding warrant that is related to the traffic case, he could be arrested when he goes to court. A defendant in a criminal case that involves a traffic violation should consult his attorney about continuance requests.
Filing a Request by Other Means
An individual seeking a continuance may file a written request by mail or fax. Some cities and states allow a party to file a request by email or through the court’s online system. In some areas, such as Leon County, Florida, she may have to file a motion to continue rather than file a request. A party may need a case number for the matter to electronically file the motion.
Continuance May Not Be Automatic
In some areas, such as Newport News, Virginia, a continuance is not automatically granted. In that city, a continuance will be granted the first time for good reason. In areas where the court wants proof of good cause, the continuance is subject to denial by the judge.
In other areas, such as King County, Washington, the clerk of court will automatically issue a continuance. The number of automatic continuances is usually limited to one. The party will be required to request the continuance a certain period in advance of the court date. The period varies by jurisdiction, but is usually between three and 10 days.
Read More: How to File a Continuance Hearing in a Family Law Court
When a Request Is Received Late
When a request is received in less than the required time before the party’s court date, the request will be submitted to the hearing officer in court. The hearing officer may grant the request or hear the case in the party’s absence. If the case is heard without the party, the court may enter a default judgment against the party.
Dealing With License Suspension
A party who fails to appear for court, does not pay her fine and does not follow the instructions on the back or at the end of the citation may see her driver’s license suspended. The court will notify the department of motor vehicles of the state in which the party is licensed to drive. She may then need to reinstate her license with the department of motor vehicles.
When a Court Date Is Scheduled
The court may have special rules for requesting a continuance when the party already has a court date scheduled. In Santa Clara County, California, the clerk of court is able to give only one continuance. The clerk can give a continuance for cases set for arraignment or court trial, when the matter was not set by the court. If a court date was set for arraignment or court trial, the party must ask for the continuance at least 10 court days before the proceeding.
Requesting a Continuance for Other Purposes
A party can request a continuance on other matters relating to a traffic ticket, such as his traffic school completion date and the payment plan on his bail forfeiture. The term bail forfeiture means paying the amount of the ticket without seeing a judge. A party who is not delinquent can make the request online, by phone or in person without having to see the judge.
- The Superior Court of California, County of Santa Clara: Extensions
- The Superior Court of California, County of Orange: Extensions
- City of Tucson, Arizona: Civil Court Traffic Information
- Superior Court of California, County of Los Angeles: Traffic
- State of Maine Judicial Branch: Contest a Ticket
- King County, Washington: Reschedule
- Virginia's Judicial System: Newport News-Traffic General District Court
- The Office of Gwen Marshall, Clerk of the Circuit Court & Comptroller, Leon County, Florida: Traffic
- City of Tucson: Ask Judge (file motion) . . .
- Harvey Ruvin, Clerk of the Courts, Miami-Dade County, Florida: Civil Infraction Tickets
- California Courts: What Is a Traffic Appeal?
- Oregon Courts: Criminal - Failure to Appeal for a Traffic Trial
- 2019 California Rules of Court: Rule 1.10. Time for Actions
- Always file for a continuance before your court date. Missing a court date without filing beforehand could result in further charges, or even your arrest for failure to appear.
Jessica Zimmer is a journalist and attorney based in northern California. She has practiced in a wide variety of fields, including criminal defense, property law, immigration, employment law, and family law.