Making Up for Missed Court Dates

As much as it irks anyone to get a ticket or traffic citation, it’s even more frustrating when you know your court date will take place in a county or state other than the one in which you live. And when months go by in between the ticket actually being issued and your scheduled court appearance, it’s no surprise that many drivers forget to show up entirely!

But whether intentionally done or not, what are the consequences for failing to appear in court or to pay the appropriate fine after you receive a ticket?

The problem  

First things first: don’t automatically assume there’s a warrant out there for you if you missed your court date. While this can sometimes be the case, if your ticket was recorded by the officer that pulled you over as a refraction – as is fairly typical in North Carolina – then that’s one less thing for you to have to worry about moving forward.

But that doesn’t mean you’re home free yet. Once you’re in the system with a high enough infraction under your belt, you’re not only barred from driving in that state, but from renewing your license in your home state as well. That is, until the issue is resolved: either by you or a trusted attorney and the court system.

Your options

So how do you go about making things right and restoring all of your usual driving privileges in your hometown? You could simply pay the fine, plus the additional cost incurred after you missed your court date or a payment deadline. But, doing so will have a negative effect on your auto insurance premium, and you’ll end up carrying that around for much longer than should be necessary!

Insurance companies base rates off of previous driving records, as well as a number of factors including age, the type of car you drive, and regional statistics. So if you have a history of traffic tickets or accidents already on your record, your insurance company is going to weigh the potential cost of insuring you versus what it will make over the life of your policy. More often than not, this results in a rise in monthly costs for you, even if you don’t run into any more trouble with traffic rules after you sign on with your latest policy.

Our recommendation? Find a reputable lawyer based in the county in which you got your ticket and hire him or her to handle the fallout of missing a court date for you. Most attorneys will be able to get the ticket reduced or even resolved, and then the worst you’ll have to handle is the initial cost of the ticket, actually renewing your license, and paying the fees for your lawyer’s services.

Because you also have to factor in lost wages and opportunities from a drawn-out process, not to mention the stress of dealing with court procedure and legal jargon yourself, the cost of a ticket is hardly as cut-and-dry as it may seem on first pass. But when you have a sharp legal mind on your side, you can have the matter handled in no time. Contact Wentz Law Firm if you’ve gotten a ticket or citation in New Hanover or Pender counties, and we’ll walk you through every step of the way.

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