A statute of limitations will not prevent Alabama from collecting the amount an individual owes on a traffic ticket. Because a law enforcement officer issues and delivers the traffic ticket immediately, the statute of limitations tolls when the paper or electronic ticket is issued.
A statute of limitations limits the amount of time for bringing a civil or criminal action against an individual. In Alabama, the statute of limitations for misdemeanors is one year from the date of the occurrence. A traffic ticket is a misdemeanor. The date the officer issues the traffic ticket stops the statue of limitations from running. The statute of limitations applies to the amount of time the officer has to issue the ticket for the traffic offense. A statute of limitations does not limit the amount of time the state has to collect the fee owed.
In Alabama, an officer issues a traffic ticket when he stops the driver. The complaint and summons filed in any Alabama court make up the Uniform Traffic Ticket and Complaint, a paper or electronic version of the ticket. The electronic version must contain the same information as the ticket. The officer must use the ticket in all non-felony traffic cases.
Instead of issuing a paper ticket, the officer can generate a notice to appear in court. The notice is an electronic document printed and served at the time of the traffic stop. A notice to appear also would toll the statute of limitations.
Alabama law requires the law enforcement officer issuing the ticket to follow procedures. The officer must complete and sign the ticket, serve a copy of the ticket on the defendant and -- often within 48 hours -- acknowledge under oath the case's facts to anyone within the judicial branch of government authorized by the state to administer oaths and file copies of the ticket with the court.