Speeding and traffic tickets can be a hassle, especially when your court date is scheduled for an inopportune time. Although the fines and penalties for speeding tickets might seem minor, missing a court date is never a good idea. Courts take these matters seriously, and so should you.
Missing the Date
Several things can happen if you miss your speeding ticket court date. First, a judgment will likely be entered against you for the ticket, meaning you can't challenge it and you're automatically found guilty. Second, the court may issue a bench warrant for your failure to appear. Third, you may even lose driving privileges or have your license revoked.
In most jurisdictions, missing a speeding ticket court date will not result in a warrant, a license revocation or other negative actions taken against you, but the possibility exists and you should be aware of that. You can often call the court in advance and let them know if you know you're unable to attend your court date. Court officials will usually allow you to reschedule or arrange for a new date, but practices vary widely by jurisdiction. It can be difficult to know exactly what will happen and what your options are.
Hiring an Attorney
If you can't make your court date or if you don't want to go, you can hire an attorney to appear on your behalf. Prosecutors are often more receptive to defendants who hire attorneys, so many times your lawyer can visit the prosecutor in advance and take care of the speeding ticket before your scheduled court date. This is a courtesy often offered to attorneys, but don't expect the court to do the same for you.
If you have missed your date, hiring an attorney is often a good idea if a bench warrant has been issued for your failure to appear. Attorneys can often go to court on your behalf and ask the court to set the warrant aside. Judges will usually go along with this request, but may be less likely to do so if you appear without an attorney.
Rescheduling or Paying
Depending on the jurisdiction, you'll probably have to reschedule your court date after you miss the original one. You may have to pay a fine or do both. Rescheduling fees or late court fees may also be imposed, and you may have to come before the court to explain why you missed your appearance. Of course, if a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you may be arrested in the interim or at the time you come to court. Calling to ask if any warrant can be set aside may also be an option, but there's no guarantee it will happen.
Roger Thorne is an attorney who began freelance writing in 2003. He has written for publications ranging from "MotorHome" magazine to "Cruising World." Thorne specializes in writing for law firms, Web sites, and professionals. He has a Juris Doctor from the University of Kansas.