Do I Have to Go to Court For a Ticket?

Whether you must appear in traffic court for your ticket depends on the specifics of your case. However, here’s the good news: No, you do not have to appear in court for every traffic ticket. However, there may be significant advantages if you are willing to take the extra time and effort to present your case before a judge. There are a few types of serious offenses that will require a mandatory court appearance in New York.

Most traffic tickets do not require a court appearance to resolve.

Many offenses do not require a mandatory court appearance: parking tickets, tailgating, failure to stop at a sign or light, failure to yield right-of-way, speeding under 30 over the posted limit, driving without a working headlight, use of text messaging, or failure to stop for a bus. For these tickets, you can usually pay your fine online, by mail, by phone, or in person. You are presumed “guilty as charged,” but no further punishment other than the fine is necessary.

Though not required, appearance in court can help with some tickets.

You may fight your ticket or ask the court to reduce your fine or the points violation put on your license for a variety of reasons. Maybe you were wrongfully accused. Maybe you were guilty, but don’t have hundreds of extra dollars sitting around to pay. Maybe you already have points on your license and fear suspension (after reaching 11 points within 18 months).

Maybe you want to scrub your record clean, so you don’t have to worry about escalating insurance premiums. Whatever the case may be, our New York car accident lawyers can help with this type of case, as these legal professionals are no strangers to traffic courts and the local judges. Sometimes you can get off with no punishment at all if the judge believes you were innocent or if the officer fails to appear.

Certain ticketed offenses require a court appearance.

Misdemeanors or felonies do require a mandatory court appearance. Hit-and-run, fleeing from an officer, reckless driving, driving with a suspended or revoked license, driving under the influence (DUI), driving while impaired (DWI), street racing, or driving with inadequate brakes. If you have multiple similar violations on your record, you will likely be expected in court to defend what has escalated to a misdemeanor or felony offense.

If you’re under 18, plan on going to court for your ticket.

Laws are stricter for young drivers; minors must appear in juvenile traffic court along with a legal guardian for all moving violations. The judge will ask a juvenile offender to “admit” or “deny” the traffic charges. Those who wish to fight it should have a lawyer’s help. Supporting evidence may be required to go up against the witness testimony of the ticket-writing officer. Penalties may include a fine, suspension of permit or license, mandatory driving school, or community service. A lenient judge might reduce or even throw out the ticket.

Failure to appear in court when necessary leads to serious consequences.

You cannot bury your head in the sand if you receive a summons to court for a traffic infraction. If you are required to appear in court for your ticket but fail to do so, the consequences are severe. A warrant could be issued for your arrest. Your license could be immediately suspended. Additional fines and possible jail time could result, and you may have to face the stigma of having a criminal record for years to come.

Do you need a lawyer to represent your case?

Traffic tickets are a common part of living in a congested city like New York, but it pays to take matters seriously. If you need guidance after a motor vehicle collision, the New York City personal injury lawyers at Douglas and London can be of great assistance. The more serious the accident was, the more beneficial the advocacy of a personal injury lawyer will be to your case. A legal professional will generally know the best strategy to get you the compensation that you deserve.