What to Expect in Traffic Court

With over 196 million drivers in this country, most drivers can expect that at some time or another, they will face a traffic stop. If that problem is a driver's fault, they will face a ticket and possibly a day in traffic court. What can a driver expect in traffic court?

Defendant Options

Before even entering traffic court, it is important to understand the options available. Most drivers have the option to pay their fine by mail, accept the fines and points (if any) assessed for that infraction, and put it behind them. However, there are other options:

  • They may also contest their charge by mail in some states. Writing an explanation of the circumstances or the errors in the citation (such as the wrong make of car or the wrong street name). They will receive a reply about whether their plea worked or they must still pay the fine and be found guilty or contest the ticket in court.
  • They may have the option to choose traffic school immediately. In some situations, that may satisfy the requirements of the court and it may result in no conviction on their driving record.
  • They usually also have a date for traffic court, at which time they can contest their ticket.

Traffic Court

Traffic court can be a long ordeal. All of those cases scheduled on that day will appear in court and wait until their case is called. If the defendant retains a lawyer, their case will be among the first called. Others will have to wait until those are complete. The process is then generally quite simple.

  • Check in upon arrival, showing the ticket and waiting for the case to be called.
  • When the case is called, the defendant steps forward and enters a plea of guilty or not guilty. Those who plead guilty will have a conviction on their record and the court determines their penalties. However, they may ask for a lesser charge at that time. If they plead not guilty, they have several alternatives:
  • If the arresting officer is not in court, the charges are generally dropped and the case dismissed.
  • If the arresting officer appears and testifies, the defendant may question the officer and present their defense.
  • The result may be that the defendant wins and the charge is dismissed. On the other hand, the prosecutor may win a conviction, at which point the defendant may request to attend traffic school and, upon completion, have the charge dismissed from their record.

Getting Legal Help for Traffic Court

This is an important legal process, and it is important to prepare effectively if someone is going to fight his or her traffic ticket. A lawyer can be essential to mounting an effective defense. They can help the defendant obtain the arresting officer's notes in order to know what they will face in court. In addition, they can obtain information about any electronic evidence, such as radar devices, traffic cameras, and more. This help may be invaluable in preventing a conviction in traffic court and keeping the driver's record clean.

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