What to do about a missed court date for a speeding ticket?

Speeding and traffic tickets can be a hassle, especially when your court date is scheduled for an inopportune time. Though the fines and penalties for speeding tickets might seem minor, missing a court date is never a good idea. Courts take the matter seriously, and so should you.

Missing the Date

If you miss your speeding ticket court date, several things can happen. First, a judgment will likely be entered against you for the ticket, meaning you can't challenge it and will be found guilty. Second, the court may issue a bench warrant for your failure to appear. Third, you may lose driving privileges or have your license revoked. Though in most jurisdictions missing a speeding ticket court date will not result in a warrant or license revocation or other negative actions taken against your driving privileges or record, the possibility exists, and you should be aware of that. If you know you are unable to attend your court date, you can often call the court in advance and let them know. Court officials will usually allow you to reschedule or arrange for a new court date, but since practices vary so widely by jurisdiction, it's often difficult to know exactly what will happen and what your options are.

Hiring an Attorney

If you can't make your court date, or if you don't want to go, you can hire an attorney to appear on your behalf. Because prosecutors will often be more receptive to defendants who have hired an attorney, many times your lawyer can visit the prosecutor and take care of the speeding ticket before your scheduled court date. This is a courtesy often offered to attorneys, but don't expect the court to do the same for you. If you have missed your date, hiring an attorney is often a good idea, especially if a bench warrant has been issued for your failure to appear. Attorneys can often go to court on your behalf and ask the court to set the warrant aside. Judges will usually go along with this request, but may be less likely to do so if you appear without an attorney.

Rescheduling or Paying

Depending on the jurisdiction, after you miss your original court date you likely will have to reschedule your court date, pay a fine or both. Rescheduling or late court fees may also be imposed, and you may have to come before the court to explain why you missed your court date. Of course, if a warrant has been issued for your arrest, you may be arrested in the interim or at the time you come to court. Calling to ask if any warrant can be set aside may also be possible, but there is no guarantee it will happen.