If You Ignore Your Ticket

What happens if you ignore your traffic ticket?

If you ignore (do not respond to) your ticket, your situation will only get worse. Your fine will increase and additional penalties can be added.

If you can show the court that paying the ticket will cause you or your family a financial hardship you may ask the court to consider your ability to pay. If your case is in collections you can still contact your court for an ability-to-pay determination in cases of financial hardship.  After considering your situation, the court may decide to reduce the amount of the fine or the fee, to approve a payment plan, or to order community service. However, not all courts may offer all of these options, not all fines or fees may be eligible for ability-to-pay determinations, and the court may decide you owe the total amount. If you do not appear in court or pay your ticket your driver’s license may be suspended and there may be additional penalties.

If you do not go to court on your court date

If you do not appear in court or pay your ticket your driver’s license may be suspended and there may be additional penalties. When you do not appear in court it is called a “failure to appear” (FTA). If you violate your written promise to appear at court, that you signed when you got your ticket, you can be found guilty of a new crime. Note: if you contacted the court prior to your “Notice to Appear” date to address your ticket and took action on it (i.e., pled guilty and paid, requested arraignment date, posted bail and requested trial without arraignment, or requested trial by declaration), you may not need to appear. When you talk to the court, be sure to confirm with them that your appearance is not required.

In addition, if you do not appear, a “civil assessment” of up to $300 may be added to your fine amount; you may be found guilty in absentia; your case may be referred for collection; or, the court may issue a warrant for your arrest. The court can also charge you with a misdemeanor or an infraction for “failure to appear.” If you get a “civil assessment” but had “good cause” for not appearing in court or paying your fine, you may be able to ask the court to cancel it, if you ask in a timely manner.

If you do not pay the fine

If you do not pay your fine within the time the court gives you, your driver's license may be suspended. You may also not be able to renew your car’s registration.

In addition, if you do not pay your fine on time a “civil assessment” of up to $300 may be added to your fine amount; your case may be referred for collection; or, the court could issue a warrant for your arrest. The court can also charge you with a misdemeanor or infraction for “failure to pay.” Again, if you appear in court to respond to your ticket you will avoid these additional penalties. It will also give you an opportunity to present the court with any financial hardship or ability to pay issues that you may wish to present. Remember, you may request an ability-to-pay determination at any time, even after your case has been referred to collections.

If you get a “civil assessment” but had “good cause” for not appearing in court or paying your fine, you may be able to ask the court to cancel it, if you ask in a timely manner.

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