Road Law – October 2020
With all due respect
Jeff McConnell and James Mennella
It’s not uncommon that we get calls from drivers who have failed to respond or appear in court to resolve their traffic violations. While some have turned their tickets over to their employer who has dropped the ball, many have chosen to just ignore the problem all together. When you ignore the problem, it doesn’t get any better or easier to deal with down the road.
Q. I received a citation that I didn’t deserve, and I don’t want to deal with it. What can they do to me if I don’t appear or pay?
A. There are several things that can happen depending on the nature of the charge against you and the state where you received the ticket. The first thing that can happen is the clerk will issue a default when your due date lapses and they haven’t heard from you. This generally takes the form of a failure to comply notice to the department of motor vehicles. This action can take two forms, the first being to put a hold on your license until you resolve the issue, which prevents you from renewing your license, and the second is a driver license suspension if you don’t comply by a certain date. This process still works even if you are not licensed in the state where you received the ticket, since most states are members of the Driver License Compact and Non-Resident Violator Compact.
The other option is that a bench warrant may be issued for your arrest in addition to the suspension request to the DMV.
The problem with this scenario is that you may need to come back to the court, get booked, bond out of jail, and then come back at a later date to resolve your case. You can also get picked up in another state, usually at a port of entry or scale house, and held while they determine if you will be extradited back to the original state.
Q. I ignored a traffic ticket and was suspended for noncompliance. I paid the citation, but the word “suspended” is still on my record. How do I get it removed?
A. When you receive a suspension notice for failure to comply, it will generally say that your license will be suspended on a certain date if you do not respond to the court.
If you fail to handle the matter, then your license will be suspended, which becomes a historical fact on your driver record and payment after the fact will not get rid of the word “suspension.”
Q. I received several citations about five years ago and never did anything with them. I contacted several of the courts to inquire about getting a court date and was told that my only option is to pay the tickets. Is this true?
A. It depends on the nature of the charges and where you received the tickets. Many states will issue a default conviction in your absence on the charges and consider your case adjudicated. In these scenarios, your ability to request that your case be reset or reheard is limited by state statute. In other situations, it may require a formal motion to the court to reset the case back on the calendar for a hearing. The court clerk can’t give legal advice, so he or she is not going to inform you of what legal procedures may be available to try correcting the mess you are in other than paying your citation. LL
Send any questions or comments regarding transportation law to: Jeff McConnell and James Mennella, Road Law, 3441 W. Memorial, Suite 4, Oklahoma City, OK 73134; call 405-242-2030, fax 888-588-8983, or contact them via RoadLaw.net.
This column is the opinion of the writer and does not necessarily reflect the opinions of Land Line Magazine or its publisher. Please remember everyone’s legal situation is different. Consult with an attorney for specific advice on your situation.