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When Do You Have To Appear in Court for a Traffic Ticket?

A traffic officer may issue a citation for a number of violations of traffic law. These can include offenses like speeding or running a red light as well as driving drunk or reckless endangerment. The ticket will usually carry information informing you whether or not you need to go to traffic court. The requirement is usually based on the seriousness of your offense.

Criminal Offenses

There are two types of criminal charges that may arise from a traffic violation: felony or misdemeanor charges. The less serious of the two is the misdemeanor. Misdemeanor charges arising from a traffic violation include driving under the influence, driving with an invalid license, or reckless endangerment. These offenses are crimes that involve the possibility of prison time if convicted. Therefore, you are usually required to go to court for offenses such as these.

While most criminal offenses relating to traffic violations are misdemeanors, some are so serious that they rise to the level of a felony. If someone is seriously injured, killed, or put in mortal danger as a result of your behavior behind the wheel of an automobile, these may be considered aggravating factors that can raise the offense to the level of a felony where it would otherwise be a misdemeanor.

Traffic Infractions

However, most violations of traffic law are only infractions. These are not serious offenses committed with criminal intent. Mostly, they are the result of carelessness or thoughtlessness. Nevertheless, they still pose a potential danger to yourself, your passengers, and others with whom you share the road.

It is often not required for you to appear in court for a traffic infraction. As an alternative, you can choose to pay the fine and mail it in with your ticket. However, if you take this course of action, keep in mind that it amounts to an admission of guilt that will stay on your driving record for a long time and could result in demerit points against your license.

You may choose to go to traffic court to contest the ticket even if it is not required of you. If you can present a valid, reasonable case, it may be possible for you to get a favorable ruling from the judge. Another possibility is that the judge may choose to throw out your case summarily if, for example, the officer who issued the ticket does not show up to court.

If you do choose to go to court to contest your traffic ticket, it can be helpful to hire a lawyer to represent you and help you build a defensible case. Get started by calling a Traffic Violation Lawyer, like the lawyers at The Law Offices of Mark T. Hurt, to arrange a consultation.


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