You probably do not have a warrant out for your arrest. However, your license may be suspended and you might not know it.
When you miss your traffic court date, whether you forgot, you were sick, or you couldn’t get out of work, the clerk will mark “FTA” on the file, which means “Failure to Appear.” If your charge is a minor traffic violation (not a careless and reckless, and especially high speeding, or a DWI), a warrant should not be issued for your arrest. But, there are still consequences.
If you (or your attorney) has not made an appearance on the ticket within 20 days of the missed court date, the clerk will enter the FTA into the system, which will trigger an additional fine. The clerk will also notify the NC DMV. The DMV will then suspend your license. Theoretically, the DMV should send you a letter to notify you, but often these letters get missed or lost in the mail. Many people do not find out they are driving without a valid license until they are pulled over.
What do I do if I missed my court date?
Call a Raleigh traffic attorney immediately. That attorney will look up your missed charge, fill out a form, and ask the magistrate judge to reschedule the date. If you missed for a valid reason, such as being in the hospital, your attorney will need that paperwork to provide to the judge so you are not charged with the FTA fine. If you simply forgot, the magistrate judge is less likely to strike the fine.
The sooner you take care of the missed date, the better. If you get pulled over for driving while license revoked, you will receive more tickets and have more attorney fees to deal with.
In Wake County, missing a court date generally does not affect the ability to get a reduction on the speed, but some assistant district attorneys will not allow someone who missed a court date to receive an improper equipment (a non-moving violation that does not affect your insurance rates).
Can an assistant district attorney dismiss a driving while license revoked?
Yes, once you have your license back, as long as it’s a driving while license revoked non-impaired, which means your license was not revoked due to a DWI-related charge or conviction.
Can a cop pull me over if he knows my license is revoked?
Unfortunately and unfairly, yes. Although it seems like a massive violation of the Fourth Amendment, case law allows police to run your license plate, and if the owner of the car comes back in the system as unlicensed, the officer can pull the car. Under very recent North Carolina Court of Appeals law, even if the person driving isn’t the owner of the car, the officer can still continue the stop, which could lead to further charges.
What if I have missed court in multiple counties?
You can either choose to hire one attorney for each county, or hire one attorney to cover all of the counties. Some attorneys are willing to travel far outside their county for license restoration; some prefer to stay within their home courthouse.
How much is this going to cost?
It depends. If you have missed court in many counties, you’re looking at probably over $1,000 between court costs, fines, the DMV restoration fee, and attorney fees. If it’s only in one county, it might not be terribly expensive, depending on the attorney you hire.
Lawyer Paige Feldmann handles missed Wake County court dates and driver’s license restoration in Raleigh frequently and offers very reasonable rates. For a free consultation, email Paige at email@example.com
Find more information about missed court dates, see here.