Harassed by court
July 28, 2005 3:15 PM   Subscribe

LegalFilter. Back in Feb I had a 10-mile-over ticket in Austin TX. I plead guilty at a court cashier cage, paid the fines, and applied for a defensive driving deferral, but was in the midst of the move and could not do the class. I figured the violation would just get put on my record. Now I'm getting letters from Austin threatening me with a warrant if I don't appear in front of a judge on Sept 8.

What is confusing is I got a letter a few weeks ago saying that I missed the deadline but had a $0 balance. Now this letter says "you failed to comply with the order of the court" and "hereby ordered to appear before a judge at xxx to explain why you failed to comply".

For cripes sake, what is this all about? Why can't I just pay whatever extra fine they want? I live 200 miles from Austin and it's not a trivial deal to go there for something like this.
posted by shannymara to Law & Government (7 answers total)
According to the affidavit for defensive driving deferral in Austin, TX, nope, you've gotta appear in front of the judge.

As I understand it, the defensive driving deferral fee was paid instead of court fees/a fine, as a program to avoid you getting points on your licence (and the associated insurance headaches). You have not lived up to your side of the bargain, and therefore they want to see you to find out why. The law is an ass, but the law is the law, and they have a policy they're sticking to. You didn't pay the fine, paid for the course, but then didn't complete it as demanded.
posted by wackybrit at 3:28 PM on July 28, 2005

Response by poster: Fair enough -- guess I'll have to suck it up and go, and bring a wad of cash for the inevitable fines.
posted by shannymara at 4:59 PM on July 28, 2005

Before you bother going, perhaps you could contact someone via phone to explain the moving situation, and see if you could substitute a local defensive driving course in the meantime. Although judges aren't keen on people disobeying court orders, they are also flexible when dealing with normal people in tough situations.
posted by MrZero at 5:32 PM on July 28, 2005

My experience with this kind of thing is that the minor infractions get tossed into a huge bureaucracy without much flexibility, so there's not really much hope in getting anyone on the phone who can make any decisions about your case. Better off just driving the 5 hrs to Austin than getting the warrant.
posted by footnote at 6:27 PM on July 28, 2005

You could try writing a letter to the judge and asking for permission for a telephonic hearing.
posted by gatorae at 8:39 PM on July 28, 2005

Well, of course, I wouldn't just fold over, do try something on the phone first like these nice people suggest ;-)
posted by wackybrit at 12:50 AM on July 29, 2005

I live in Austin and can pretend I'm you.
posted by rleamon at 1:47 PM on July 29, 2005

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