People do not always take traffic tickets seriously and think that nothing will happen if they do not show up for court. However, they could not be more wrong. I am often still surprised to hear how many people fail to answer in court.
Failing to show up in a Georgia traffic court could result in a suspension of your driver's license, and a warrant may be issued for your arrest. This is a relatively new change to traffic law, but one that will have a significant impact on your life if ignored.
Before the update in June 2017, if you failed to appear in traffic court, your information was sent to the Department of Driver Services (DDS), and they suspended your license. To reinstate your license, you had to pay any charges owed to the court and then submit proof of payment to DDS along with a reinstatement fine. You will need a license clearing form called a DDS-912 Form.
For a serious traffic offense, where you had to make a bond, the bond could be forfeited, and the judge could issue a bench warrant for your arrest.
A bench warrant is an arrest warrant that is ordered by the judge. If you have any contact with the police after a bench warrant has been issued, you will be taken into custody. Even if the contact with the police was the fault of someone else (such as an accident for which you are not at fault), you will be arrested.
For the most part, bench warrants do not have a set bond amount. Persons arrested on a bench warrant very often must remain in jail until they have a court date.
In either situation, whether a license suspension or a bench warrant, there was no grace period. The license suspension or the warrant would happen on the day of the missed appearance.
Georgia Traffic Law was amended in 2017 to allow for a grace period to resolve a failure to appear in a Georgia Traffic Court. If you miss court, you will be notified you by mail of your failure to appear. You will then have 30 days from the listed date to dispose of the charges. After the thirty days, the court will issue a bench warrant for your arrest along with sending your information to DDS so they can suspend your license.
Once a warrant is issued, or a person's license is suspended, the procedure to resolve the matter is the same as described in the pre-2017 law.
Although the law was amended to allow for a grace period and notification by the United States Postal Service, many courts have yet to adopt these procedures. As a result, if a client misses court, our attorneys will need to check for a warrant and a suspended license.
Never assume that prosecutors, defense attorneys, and judges are aware of changes to our traffic laws. Additionally, many suspensions and warrants are processed by court clerks who may also be uninformed about the change in the law. Our job as Georgia Traffic Ticket Attorneys is to point out changes in the law that may help our clients.
If you have received a ticket and have to attend traffic court or you failed to appear in traffic court, you need help! The Law Office of Richard Lawson has over 20 years of criminal defense experience, and we know the ins and outs of Georgia Traffic Law. Contact us today for a free case evaluation.