Missed My Traffic Court Date
March 13, 2009 12:59 AM   Subscribe

Got a traffic ticket and missed my court date but the letter they sent me to appear in court had the wrong driver's license name and number. Right auto information though.

Hi folks, long time reader, first time poster here.

Anyway, I received a traffic ticket last September. When the letter from the Los Angeles Superior Court arrived in the mail ordering me to appear in court, I made every attempt to just pay the bail amount online, in person at the clerk but for some reason I was required to appear in court. But given that the date scheduled for me were inconvenient (I planned to be out of the country) I had to file extensions a couple of times.

Now, the last date that I should appear in court was March 11 and I just totally forgot about that.

Upon review of my ticket tonight, I noticed that the driver's license number and name were incorrect.

Anyway, my questions are, how do I resolve this issue once and for all? Do I just show up in court? Do I want to fall in line at the clerk again? Is there a possibility that I'd get away with not just doing anything about it? The thing is, the vehicle information is accurate so I might get dinged somehow when I register my car at the DMV.

Thanks in advance.
posted by onich to Law & Government (7 answers total) 1 user marked this as a favorite
onich: Is there a possibility that I'd get away with not just doing anything about it?

When you miss a court date in many states, they issue what is called a bench warrant. Then they arrest you if you get pulled over.

Trust me, it's not a very good idea to let this go. I spent a day in jail last year over something just this silly and stupid, and it wasn't fun at all. If you go to the court and talk to the clerk, they'll know what to do - this happens to people all the time.
posted by koeselitz at 1:15 AM on March 13, 2009

Seconding just going to talk to the clerk and settle it. Tell them the absolute truth and they'll probably roll their eyes, mutter something about idiots in another department, and you'll be on your way to getting this cleared up. Don't procrastinate on this. Do it today.
posted by elendil71 at 1:31 AM on March 13, 2009

Yeah, thirded. Get your ass in to court right now and explain the mixup to the clerk.
posted by turgid dahlia at 1:55 AM on March 13, 2009

n-thing getting this taken care of today.

Bring your ticket with you. As the driver's license name and number are wrong on it, you can probably get the whole thing dropped. The cop is going to have no way of proving that it was you, seeing as he hasn't recorded your correct information where it counts, so you've got an excellent shot of having this thing just go away.

But you do have to go in and do something about it. That something may well involve appearing in court and showing the judge what's going on, but ignoring the problem, especially when you can probably get off scot free, is a Bad Move.
posted by valkyryn at 5:11 AM on March 13, 2009

Thanks, folks. I'll make sure to get to the clerk today...
posted by onich at 9:32 AM on March 13, 2009

Oh just a follow-up, I checked online and on the phone. It seems that my case was dismissed. Lucky, lucky, lucky.

Thanks again.
posted by onich at 3:32 PM on March 13, 2009

"Oh just a follow-up, I checked online and on the phone. It seems that my case was dismissed. Lucky, lucky, lucky."

I'm not sure whether the terminology is the same in your state as in most (assuming you're in the US), but there are two types of dismissal-- with prejudice and without prejudice. If your case was dismissed with prejudice, then it's dead and can't be refiled...which should let you fill in the blank as to what can happen if the case was dismissed without prejudice. Yup, they can refile it. If they think they need to change something, they'll change it.

So I recommend calling them back and asking if the dismissal was with prejudice or without. The technicality of them getting your license number and name wrong wouldn't (necessarily) have been enough to stop a conviction. They may have just pulled the case to fix the mistakes, and will refile it. Will you get notice of any of that? I really don't know. Due process suggests that you should, but it's not at all overwhelming-- after all, you DID have notice of the original court date, and there's a whole line of cases holding that you rely on the word of what a court clerk tells you over the phone at your own risk.
posted by missouri_lawyer at 8:33 AM on March 14, 2009

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