Who else can I contact!
November 17, 2022 5:46 AM   Subscribe

I'm supposed to go to traffic court today in 20 minutes. I tested positive for COVID yesterday. I called the court about 15 times yesterday to let them know I need my appearance rescheduled and no one answered the phone. What should I do?

The court office's answering machine literally says "do not leave a message if this is important we rarely check the messages." As after my 15th or so attempt to call yesterday I gave up and left a message so at least I can say I tried. The court office opened again this morning at 8:30 and I've been calling but still, no answer.

I got a speeding ticket a month ago and was fully intending to go to traffic court to try to plea it down but I'm obviously not going out in the world with COVID and exposing everyone else at court to it. I don't want my no-show to result in a conviction or a license suspension or anything in that vein, but I have no idea how else I can reach the court and let them know that I am no able to attend today.

Would calling the police station where the officer who ticketed me is based be an option? I figured once you are given a ticket it's out of the cop's hands and in the hands of the court.

Are there other options that just aren't coming to me? I'm pretty exhausted at the moment and Googling for ideas only returns results that day "contact the court". Honestly it's beginning to seem like there is no one in the court clerk's office, ever, or they just don't answer their phones.

I'm locacted in upstate NY. The court is in Albany County, but not anywhere near the city of Albany - it's in a small sort of podunky town about 20 miles outside the city limits.

Any ideas would be welcome! Thank you.
posted by nayantara to Law & Government (8 answers total)
Does the court have email or a contact form on its web page? Can you send someone to the court on your behalf?
posted by jacquilynne at 5:50 AM on November 17, 2022

The country has decided that contracting Covid is a normal risk for being in public, along with flu, colds, etc. You are a good and ethical person for asking these questions, but it seems likely that you will not be the 10th, 50th, or 100th person in that court and testing positive in the last month. If you don’t go to court, it sounds like you would potentially face some serious consequences. If it were me, I would mask up (N95), go in, and explain at the door, or as early during my time in the building as possible to someone in authority that I did not know ask what to do, and what is their preference at this point.
posted by cupcakeninja at 6:06 AM on November 17, 2022 [3 favorites]

Best answer: Call the police non-emergency number and ask what the best approach is. When I was in a similar position I got a note later saying “you didn’t show up, try again next month.” It would have been a lot of months before I got a bench warrant.
posted by chesty_a_arthur at 6:07 AM on November 17, 2022

Response by poster: No contact email and at this point unfortunately there's no time to send someone in my place, the court is over an hour away from my home and I don't feel right asking someone else to take PTO to handle this. My stepdaughter is at SUNY Albany but has classes today and honestly even if she didn't I'd feel like a heel for asking her, we are close but this feels like it would be a major overstep even if she agreed and if it got back to her mother, both me and my partner would never hear the end of it (her mother is honestly quite mean - there's a reason why my partner left her years ago - and she doesn't like me and her relationship with my partner is tenuously amicable as long as we walk on eggshells around her).
posted by nayantara at 6:09 AM on November 17, 2022

Response by poster: Hooray I called again just now and someone answered, they said they would make a note of it and I should mail in my ticket indicating a not-guilty plea postmarked today and they will reschedule me. My postman picks up our outgoing mail as well so I should be ok.

Thanks for the suggestions everyone - good to know in case there's a next time. It's my first speeding ticket ever so I am not sure what the penalty would be for a no-show without at least attempting to provide an explanation.
posted by nayantara at 6:12 AM on November 17, 2022 [9 favorites]

If this is your only ticket in years then I think you will be fine, even if you just pay it. I had planned to fight one in the past in a neighboring state and then could not get there. I just paid the ticket and a late fee. One speeding ticket will not ruin your driving record.
posted by soelo at 6:17 AM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

It's probably too late now, but what is your jurisdiction?
posted by NotLost at 6:22 AM on November 17, 2022

Best answer: My postman picks up our outgoing mail as well so I should be ok.

Might want to make sure it'll definitely get postmarked today - sometimes things don't get processed immediately.
posted by trig at 6:57 AM on November 17, 2022 [1 favorite]

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