Even the best drivers sometimes receive traffic tickets. If you have never received a ticket before, or if you have only received minor tickets, you may have been surprised when a ticketing police officer told you that you had to appear in court. Is this really true? Shouldn’t you simply be able to pay the ticket and be done with it? This simple guide will explain everything you need to know about whether or not you really do have to appear in court for a traffic ticket.
Do You Have To Appear in Court?
Most of the time, a court appearance is not required after receiving a traffic ticket. However, if the violation is especially severe, it may indeed be mandatory that you appear in court to determine what the consequences of the violation will be. It is important to understand that the rules surrounding this aspect vary greatly from state to state. This makes things especially complicated if you receive a ticket in a state other than the one you live in. Some of the common violations that require a court appearance are:
- Driving drunk
- Causing death or serious harm with your driving
- Reckless driving
In many states, you must attend court if you were driving more than 30 miles per hour above the speed limit. This is an example of how especially severe versions of otherwise mundane violations may require a court appearance. If you do need to appear in court, the ticket will specify it and the issuing officer will let you know.
If You Think There’s a Mistake
Police officers are not the final authority on this matter. Officers do make mistakes or may not have a full understanding of the law. If you believe that your violation should not require a court appearance, the best thing for you to do is to speak with a traffic attorney. A legal professional will be able to tell you if the violation you committed really does warrant a court appearance and what you can do if the ticket wrongfully states you need to.
It is never a good idea to skip the court appearance, even if you believe it is incorrect. The consequences for skipping the required appearance are more severe than if you just go. Usually the fine will be increased and you may lose your license or even go to jail. If you have any doubts about your traffic ticket, the very first thing you should do is speak with a DWI attorney in Washington, DC.
Thanks to Frederick J. Brynn, P.C. for their insight into criminal law and going to court for a DWI.