Can you get an arrest warrant for a traffic ticket?


Can you get an arrest warrant for a traffic ticket?


Traffic ticket warrants are possible under certain circumstances. The first thing you need to understand about a traffic ticket is that it is a citation. It is different from criminal charges, which can result if you do things that are a violation of the criminal code, like drive drunk or engage in reckless driving or get into an accident when you don't have car insurance.

A citation is commonly issued for things like running a stop sign, speeding (unless your speed is so far above the limit you are considered to be engaged in reckless driving) or running a red light. When the citation is issued, you do not face an arrest warrant, but you do have to deal with the court and legal action is required on your part. You may choose to just pay your citation and send in the fine (which is essentially pleading guilty) or you may choose to plea bargain to reduce the fines/points on your license, or you may choose to defend yourself. However, if you do not do one of the above and you just ignore the ticket or don't pay it, then a traffic warrant may be issued for you.

The arrest warrant usually issued for non-payment of traffic tickets is called a "bench warrant," and it can result in you being arrested if you have any encounters with law enforcement (such as a police officer running your name through his computer and seeing that you have an outstanding warrant out.) When a bench warrant is issued based on traffic tickets, it is rare that you will actually serve much jail time, if any. However, you will face some hefty fines (in addition to the fines you owe based on the penalties for the original citation.) 

If you do have traffic ticket warrants issued for you, you should deal with them before you find yourself in jail. Check and see if a court near you offers an "amnesty" day where you can go take care of the problem without fearing arrest. You should also call a lawyer for help in determining how best to deal with the warrant with the minimal cost and risk to you.

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