Imagine going about your business one day and suddenly remembering that you never paid the speeding ticket you received a couple of months ago. You frantically pull the ticket out and see that the fine was due three weeks ago. Yikes!
It’s natural to panic in this situation: Missing your court date and failing to pay your traffic citation can lead to costly legal fees and probably a warrant for your arrest.
What happens if you ignore a traffic ticket?
If you miss the court date on your ticket, you are in contempt of court. The consequences for failing to appear include:
- A contempt of court fee of $50 or more, plus the cost of the ticket, plus any late fees associated with not paying the ticket on time.
- The court can choose to suspend your driver’s license, which means you will have to apply for and pay to have it reinstated at the DMV–that’s on top of the contempt of court fees, the cost of the ticket, and any late fees you have already paid!
- Your car can be booted or towed. If that happens, you’ll have to pay to get your vehicle back, and you’ll still be responsible for paying the ticket, the contempt of court fee, the driver’s license reinstatement fee, and any late fees you have incurred.
- When you finally do go before a judge, you can expect he or she to scold you in open court for being so irresponsible.
- If you end up pleading guilty to the speeding ticket, the late payment and the suspension of your driver’s license will go on your driving record, thus adding points to your record and likely causing your car insurance premiums to rise.
In worst-case scenarios, you can be pulled over for an unrelated traffic infraction, and quickly end up in jail for failing to address the first ticket you received.
And that would be just your luck, right? Getting pulled over after missing your court date.
Listen, it happens to more people than you’d think.
For example, let’s say you got a speeding ticket in Orleans Parish and never paid it or appeared in court. You get pulled over in St. Charles Parish for running a red light, at which time the officer runs your driver’s license information and sees a warrant, or an “attachment,” in Orleans Parish. The officer arrests you and takes you to jail in St. Charles Parish, but it’s a Saturday, so it takes two days for you to be transported to Orleans Parish to be booked for your warrant there. That’s three days in jail, all because you forgot to take care of a speeding ticket.
How can a traffic attorney help?
If you ignored your traffic ticket and you’re faced with any of the above penalties, you should consider hiring a traffic attorney to help with your case. A traffic lawyer is well-versed in local traffic laws and the penalties associated with your infractions. An attorney can help navigate the system, ask the judge to waive the contempt, ask the court to recall the warrant, negotiate a lesser fine, and possibly get some of the infractions removed from your record.
Don’t tempt fate. Take care of your old tickets.